Bald Coots and Psycho Swans – Welcome to Epping Forest’s Connaught Water

Connaught Water is an artificial lake dug in 1880 to drain some of the forest land near Chingford. Named after Prince Arthur Duke of Connaught and Strathean, the seventh child of Queen Victoria and the First Ranger of Epping Forest. It soon became a local tourist attraction for east end folk who fancied a paddle and then in 1888 a certain Miss Searle was granted permission to hire row boats. The row boats went in the mid 1970s, but it’s still a popular place for people who want to enjoy the birds or walk their dogs.

Mandarin Duck - Connaught Water

Mandarin Duck – Connaught Water

This year the mallards, teal and pochard have been joined by mandarin ducks (find out more about Epping Forest’s mandarins here). I was pretty pleased with this shot of a drake and duck, showing the contrast between the colourful male and the drab female.

Drake and Duck

Drake and Duck

Of course the duck’s less opulent plumage helps to keep her disguised from predators when she is brooding on the nest, but there were no baby mandarins to be seen over the weekend. There were some coot chicks though.

Coot chick

Coot chick

The funny thing about the coot chicks is that with that red colouration around the head you’d quite easily mistake them for young moorhens and you can see where the expression ‘bald as a coot’ comes from too. The Mute swan also had some young.

Mute Mum and Cygnets

Mute Mum and Cygnets

This mum had eight cygnets and very well behaved they were too.

Keep up kids

Keep up kids

Unlike their father. We dubbed him Psycho Swan a couple of years ago when we saw him pick up a coot by the neck and throw it aside in a feeding frenzy, but on Saturday it was one of the Canada geese that had upset him.

I'm gonna getcha

I’m gonna getcha

The poor goose wasn’t safe on land or water!

Connaught water is about a mile from Chingford with limited parking.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

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