18th Sept. The sky, cool breeze and changing patch atmosphere reminded me that we are now well into autumn. I had taken the short walk down to the lake and found upwards of thirty Swallows feeding over the lake. Rain fell for a brief time, but generally the sun was bright and there was good reflection on the small lake. A handful of Lesser Black Backed Gulls remained on the sports centre roof and they had been joined by Common Gulls and many more Herring and Black Headed Gulls. A small number of Pochard were on the water. The Amphibious Bistort is long past its best, but hanging on to some colour.
I soon found the Great Crested Grebe family. The two youngsters are now becoming independent and almost reaching the size of the adult birds. One of them exercised the wings as it almost lifted and flew down the lake. Watching this family of birds had me reflecting upon the pleasure I have had this year having watched the pair of Great Crested Grebes successfully raise two broods. I spent many hours watching these birds often in the company of fellow patch birder Sam. We’ve had the privilege of watching these birds through every stage. We’ve wondered at times if the birds have got to know us. Having come across the second nest unexpectedly on 5th July I had at the time given the birds little chance of success with their second clutch of eggs. I’d found the nest from day one of egg laying and in a very vulnerable position. Neither bird was on the nest at the time although one egg was visible, and the nest was waterlogged and wind blown. I thought the birds may have abandoned it. Fortunately they went on to lay two more eggs. Sam and I had our fingers crossed for the birds for almost a month as we carefully watched progress and then again as the young have grown from day one. I believe the heavy rains of July were the saviour of this pair’s second brood of the year, as it kept everyone away from the nest. I wish I had a pound for every time I heard a parent say to their child, don’t go there its too wet! It wasn’t just the children who stayed away. Large fish had been left stranded on land the day I found this nest, which under-lined just how much rain there had been and how high the lake had risen. We’ve had some great photo opportunities and no doubt some of these will be shown at some point. Watching these birds encouraged me to learn much more about this species and grebes in general. Watching them has been one of the highlights of my birding so far this year. It was good to share the experience with Sam.
The male Goosander remains and further down the lake I found a single Little Grebe amongst the many Tufted Duck. I assume that this is the same Little Grebe I have seen on occasions throughout the year. At some point there was a pair. Mute Swans flew down the lake in V formation.
As I returned home I bumped into Sam and so we watched the Great Crested Grebes again for a while. Although almost independent the young are still taking food from the adults. We wondered for how much longer they would remain on the lake. Hopefully we’ll be able to watch this very successfull pair of adults again next year. Perhaps we may see some progress with the floating reed-bed too, although I won’t be holding my breath over that one despite having heard of some progress in that respect!Four Pied Wagtails flew beside the lake as we walked home.