Victor's Wildlife Report - June 2011

This year we have had a lovely sunny Spring which lasted for several weeks, whilst as we have moved into June the rain has come back once again to dampen our music festival. One ‘wit’ commented that “We had our Summer last Friday week”, as now the weather looks set for overcast days and heavy showers for the foreseeable future.

This year the Mallards seemed intent on nesting in the back yard, behind the Lakeside Centre, with three different Mallards deciding that it met their needs as a nesting site. Unfortunately the chicks all fledged whilst people were otherwise engaged and so it is difficult to say exactly how many birds were hatched but we now have some 24 new juveniles Mallards on the Lake. One Mallard even chose one of the lakeside railing flowerboxes as her nesting site - so obviously the island has little appeal to these birds.

The Coots also did well this Spring, preferring the floating islands as nesting sites and some six chicks are now well into their grey plumage whilst a further five still have their younger red colouration. The island near to the Boathouse is deeper in the water than we would like, but we were unable to attend to this problem whilst the birds were still on their large nest. It will also be noticed that all the vegetation on this island has disappeared as all the waterfowl seem to have taken a great liking to it and have eaten it all. We hope to get the chance to replant it up, once again, after the Coots have left their island nest.

The Herons again raised a brood on the island, with their nest just opposite the Lakeside Centre. Now four herons can be seen on our lake, two juveniles and two proud parents. This is an excellent sight for wildlife lovers though our fishermen might not agree with this statement.

One upsetting feature of the Spring has been the excessively aggressive actions of our breeding pair of Swans. We are used to seeing them drowning any goslings who are silly enough to get too near to their nest or their offspring, this is only nature’s way of the birds protecting their own young,… but this year a totally new behaviour has been observed - where the Swans were gripping the gosling in their beaks and bashing their head again the brickwork surround of the lakeside or against the floating islands until they were dead. Such savage actions upset quite a number of the public, who were quite unable to prevent the Swans from killing the offending goslings. We will be contacting the North West Swan Survey service to see if this aggressive action has been recorded elsewhere, or if it is an entirely new development. The Swans hatched four cygnets this year, but one died very quickly and so now, in early June, we only have three cygnets swimming with their parents.