Baby Bird Alert – Epping Forest and Woodford Green

Now that the mandarin ducklings have grown up and left Earl’s Path Pond a mummy mallard has moved in. She has eight new ducklings. They mostly kept to the shade, but one of them came out to feed amongst the water lilies.

baby mallard

baby mallard

I was quite pleased with this picture as you can see the water the duckling is spitting out.

Over at Strawberry Hill the terrapins are still enjoying the Sun,

terrapins

terrapins

although one of them seems to have fallen out with his mates.

The Garbo of the chelonian world

The Garbo of the chelonian world

There are more baby mallards at the pond at Woodford Green.

Mallard ducklings

Mallard ducklings

They are very keen on bread and we were really sorry that we didn’t have any when they came to join us at the water’s edge. There were also a pair of moorhen chicks which wee a bit more wary.

Moorhen chick

Moorhen chick

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

A Hard Act to Swallow at Walton-on-the-Naze

We took a trip to the Essex seaside today for a slap up haddock and chips at Whites and a walk by the Naze. Up on the Naze itself some swallows have made a nest in the public loos and I was lucky enough to get this shot of one of them perched on the tree outside having a bit of a stretch.

Swallow

Swallow

Sadly the tide was in for most of the afternoon, so I only managed to get a few pictures of some seabirds including this group of juvenile herring gulls on a breakwater down by the pier in the town,

Juvenile herring gulls

Juvenile herring gulls

and a cormorant having a scratch down by the Naze,

Cormorant

Cormorant

although we did also spot some black headed gulls, wood pigeons, jackdaws and a couple of rabbits which were flushed out of the undergrowth on the red cliffs by an idiot who didn’t have his dog under control. Fortunately the bunny got away with only a fright.

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

Catching up with the Mandarin Family – Epping Forest

Many of you were enchanted by the mandarin ducklings we met at Earl’s Path Pond¬† on one of our walks. They are now getting quite grown up,

Mandarin Duckling

Mandarin Duckling

and mum seems content to leave them to it most of the time. I think this

A handsome fellow

A handsome fellow

fellow is a little drake, judging by how his plumage is developing. I think that he will soon have those distinctive sails to impress the lady ducks.

Looking this good takes some effort.

Looking this good takes some effort.

Here’s a photo of dad just to show what the ladies have to look forward to.

Mandarin Duck broadside

Mandarin Duck broadside

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

Room for One More on Top – Epping Forest

I know I have been posting a lot of photos of the terrapins at Strawberry Hill Pond lately, but when I saw this yesterday it made me laugh.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Obviously this must be the best place to sun yourself, especially if you have a pal who doesn’t mind you standing on his back. The other two terrapins looked like they were about to launch themselves back into the water and swim over to join them.

Prepare to Launch ....er terrapins, not quite as impressive as Stingray

Prepare to Launch ….er terrapins, not quite as impressive as Stingray maybe

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

Epping Forest’s Silent Killer

There is a killer lurking in the rushes at Strawberry Hill Pond

Silent KillerSilent Killer

It’s a grey heron and I have seen him every day this week. Last night I think he was hunting for the fish predating upon the tiny froglets that are starting to emerge from the ponds at last.

Froglet

Froglet

You can just about see one in the picture above, they are very well camouflaged and we did get a bit worried about squashing them underfoot so we left them to it. Of course this seasonal bonanza of tadpoles and froglets explains why these chaps are so well fed.

Terrapin

Terrapin

I caught a flotilla of three of them leaving the rushes at Strawberry Hill on Monday, although they were too widely spaced to get them all into a single frame.

Up periscope

Up periscope

They reminded me a bit of that old newsreel footage of U-Boat wolf packs leaving harbour to hunt for allied shipping. This wasn’t going to end well for some baby frogs. Now I think they must have started emerging on Tuesday because on Monday the heron was fishing at the nearby Earl’s Path Pond.

Hunting heron

Hunting heron

Earl’s Path Pond is quite different to Strawberry Hill, it’s smaller and covered by water lilies.

Water Lilly

Water Lily

The water lilies provide a nice bit of shade for the fish and a great place for herons to stalk them.

Look out below!

Look out below!

Sadly when the heron struck he was off before I could bring the Nikon to bear, but the fish he took (a carp by the look of it) was surprisingly large.

All photos taken by me except for the little froggy snapped by Mab

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

Epping Forest – Time for a Squeeeee!

If you thought the baby mandarin ducks that I photographed in Epping Forest were cute, just take a look at these fellows

Baby Bunny

Baby Bunny

There were loads of them out in the forest yesterday evening when Mab and I went for our walk and Mab had her camera ready.

What's this then?

What’s this then?

They are quite confident and you can get quite close to them before they hop it.

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

Return to Terror(pin) Island

There’s something primordial in the swamp.

Here there be monsters

Here there be monsters

Caught this fellow out hunting in the shallows of Strawberry Hill Pond in Epping Forest.

His friends were all up on the island,

Sunbathers

Sunbathers

catching a few rays in the early afternoon.

Going flat out

Going flat out

As far as I can tell there are three of these creatures in the pond and given their size I don’t think they have any natural predators to worry about.

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

Mandarin Mum – Epping Forest

I took a walk through Epping Forest around lunchtime and was pleased to encounter Mummy Mandarin and her brood at one of the ponds.

Mandarin Mum

Mandarin Mum

The ducklings are getting quite large now and there are another two who were just out of shot. I’m glad to see that she has moved the family while their little legs are still vulnerable to the non-native predators at Strawberry Hill pond.

There be dragons

There be dragons

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

Midsummer in Richmond

Okay so this is old news but on Midsummer’s Day we paid a visit to Richmond Park to see how the deer were getting on.

Red Deer Richmond Park

Red Deer Richmond Park

It wasn’t long before we found a herd of red deer. The deer are quite chilled at the moment because the mating season does not kick in until later in the year when things start to get a little more unpredictable and potentially dangerous as we found out back in October 2011

Spot the stag

Spot the stag

If you click to enlarge the photo above you can see that the deer with his head turned to the left has the beginning of a pair of antlers growing from his skull. By October these will be bloody enormous and he will be using them to fight with other stags for possession of these lovely ladies.

Red deer - stag to the left

Red deer – stag to the left

Here he is again on the left.

We also got to see some of the park’s shyer fallow deer. They made a dash through the red deer herd,

Red and fallow deer

Red and fallow deer

and over the road to hide in the undergrowth.

Fallow deer

Fallow deer

As you can see the stags have the beginnings of antlers, although they seem a touch more developed than those of the red deer.

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

Baby Birds at Verulamium Park, St Albans

We had lunch at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans on Saturday, it was a very good lunch too, but one of the greatest pleasures of lunch at one of the oldest pubs in the UK is the walk from the car park to the pub through Verulamium Park.  This is because of the huge numbers of water fowl that live around the lake.

Cananda Goose Goslings

Canada Goose Goslings

Most of the birds have broods of young right now, including the coots,

Cootlings

Cootlings

and the Canada geese.

Canada Goose goslings having a wash and brush up

Canada Goose goslings having a wash and brush up

Some families are more grown up than others, as I was shooting the two little guys above this mob came bearing down on us like a pack of velociraptors.

Like a bunch of dinosaurs

Like a bunch of dinosaurs

I’m intrigued by water rails like moorhens

Moorhen

Moorhen

and coots, I think its their big feet.

Coot

Coot

you see both of them are good swimmers, but unlike ducks or gulls that don’t have webbed feet. Instead they have fleshy lobes on their toes that they use to propel them through the water. you can see them quite well on the photo of the coot above.

Unfortunately we didn’t see any baby herons, perhaps the strange weather we have been having this year has messed up their breeding season. We did see some swans, greylag geese, lots of mallards and some handsome tufted ducks though.

Tufted ducks - drake on the right

Tufted ducks – drake on the right

Verulamium was the name given to the town by the Romans. It was one of the first to be settled by them in the south of England following the invasion in AD43. In AD60 the British Queen Boudicca burnt it down along with London and Colchester. Us Brits like to celebrate such heroics while calmly brushing the following 350 years of Roman domination under the carpet!