Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Changing Patch

2nd Mar.  It’s that time of year when there are signs that the patch is about to go through change.  The meteorologists inform me that it is spring!  Well, standing in the bitterly cold wind beside the lake today suggested that winter is still with us.  The birdlife doesn’t seem to be too fooled by the temperatures and there were definite signs of some species gathering prior to movement.  Numbers of Goosander and Goldeneye remain on the lake and I was quite surprised to see so many Pochard today.  On the small lake we have one rather edgy female Wigeon which is a rarity on the lake these days.  Recent incoming birds included a pair of Oystercatchers and two pairs of Great Crested Grebes.  One pair of grebes was well advanced with nest building but seem to have been hampered by the strong winds and the rough water.  In the background Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard drumming.  Numbers of Mute Swan remain high as does the number of Canada Geese.  Hopefully the breeding pair of swans will be successful again this year.  Oh well, the next two or three weeks will no doubt see the return of the Chiffchaff which begins the build up of warblers and then we really can believe spring has arrived.  It was noticeable today that the Shovellers weren’t present.

Wigeon Anas penelope

I was interested to hear from Sam the other day that the scientific species name for Shoveller clypeata means shield or shield carrier, referring of course to the shape of the bill.  It had me checking one or two other scientific names of our waterfowl.  In the case of  Wigeon Anas penelope  it is believed that penelope refers to the wife of Ulysses, and famous for her embroidery, so in the case of the name for the duck it may well refer to the beauty of the drake.  In the case of Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, bucephala means having a head like an ox (or buffalo) and clangula stems from the Latin term clangere meaning to resound, in reference to whistling wings.  Apparently it was John Ray who in 1678 first used the name Goldeneye.  Now in the case of Goosander (Common Merganser in North America) Mergus merganser, mergus is Latin for waterbird and anser of course for goose. 

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