Once again our Mute swans are feeling broody. Nest rebuilding has begun in earnest with the female (pen) avidly collecting nesting material from the adjacent bank. This rebuilding will be a continuous business from now until the cygnets have flown the nest. Our Swans have proved, in the past, to be very house proud, and very good parents! We will keep you posted.
Some sad news today, our last remaining Cygnets have unfortunately disappeared. Last year the Swans had a very successful year with 7 eggs transforming into 7 wonderful young healthy Swans. But this year has been a different story, 9 eggs hatched and all was going swimmingly until about 6 weeks ago when the Cygnets started to strangely disappear. We think that they were affected by a parasite which meant that they could not eat and were therefore very weak and prone to getting picked off by anything that fancied a snack.
On a happier note we a visit from a Grey wagtail this morning, despite its name it has a wonderful flash of yellow on its chest and underparts, but it was no substitute for the Cygnets.
Every summer the coots seem to be constantly breeding, or at least constantly sitting on their nests looking slightly perplexed. Well a new brood has just emerged and the parents were proudly showing them off this afternoon. Scurrying around the middle lake feeding the little things.
A quick update on the rest of new bird life. We still have 3 Cygnets, who seem to be fit and well. The Mallards both new and old are numerous around all the lakes. We have young Buzzards constantly calling from the trees and while flying around. The cool Cormorant was again feeding on the lake this morning, as were a couple of Herons, but sadly they did not nest here this year.
The rest of the Park is looking especially verdant at the moment, with all this rain. In fact it is a bit of a battle slightly holding back the forces of nature,while maintaining a natural look. I think we succeed, come and have a look.
Once again the weather is playing havoc with our work schedule, but at least we were able to get out and cut the grass. We were rather hampered by our wildfowl blocking the way of the mowers. They had all decided to lie around rather casually on the grass we had to cut, and were very reluctant to move, even for our tractor mower. This meant that I had to initially move to a different area. Even the cygnets were getting in the way, sitting down while grazing on the grass, not sure why we were cutting, as they were eating it for us!
The weather did turn very dark and gloomy this afternoon. Some times this is the best time to see Prior Park with really dark clouds as a backdrop to the Palladian Bridge and perhaps the electric blue of a kingfisher as it flies past, on what always seems a very determined mission. They can and do lighten any dark day.
Having just got back from my holidays, where we had cool rainy weather, I returned back to Prior Park in glorious sunshine. The Butterflies seem to be out in force in the pasture and nearby Skyline. In particular we have a lot of Meadow Browns and Ringlets flying around making the most of the sun. Our remaining Cygnets (4) seem to be getting on fine and hopefully they are not effected by the suspected parasite that got to the others.
Meanwhile the rest of the Park looks jolly splendid; the volunteers have been working hard in my absence. The 18th century Shrubbery we have at the bottom of the park is just coming into its own, with the Hydrangea looking especially delicate.
It all looks just right for our ‘Capture the day’ photo competition that we are holding this Saturday the 2nd of July. Come along and have a look for yourself.
As I sat here in this rather hot office waiting for the computer to boot up a Raven and Green woodpecker flew by, which some sort of compensation for being stuck in, I suppose. Meanwhile we are, I’m afraid down to 5 Cygnets, but the ones that are left are as bold as brass and coolly sat by the lake as Nathan tried to blow grass cuttings away. Maybe this is their problem, they are too trusting and friendly.
Back in the middle of the lake one of our many crazy Coots is sitting firmly on another batch of eggs, they seem to be permanently sat on nests for the whole of the summer. That’s why we have a lot of them I guess!
Of course while I am stifling in the hot office our gallant Thursday volunteers are doing the real work and removing all the bramble and nettles from the Summerhouse glade, a hard and unglamorous task but they accept it with good grace and charm. What would we do without them?
This blog is rapidly becoming the Cygnets show. They seem to have gone crazy, if not a little bit naughty, this past 24 hours. By 5 pm yesterday they were spread all over the park, with one rescued by girls from our neighbours, Prior Park College, another rescued by the same girls and Matthew the Head gardener in the pasture above the Palladian Bridge, and the rest were spread about the bottom lakes. But now as I write they are all together (7 of them) floating serenely (sort of) on the lakes by the bridge. Probably hatching another jaunt!
More sad news today I am afraid, as yet another cygnet has been taken, by what we do not know, but the others decided to go on another jaunt. This time they trotted off into the pasture, looking for adventure I think.
Work has started on the Gothic Temple cascade. The trusty Tuesday volunteers have started investigating the feasibility of rebuilding the broken down cascade in front of the old Gothic Temple. It all looks very positive there. As do things in the pasture where our first Bee Orchid of the year has been spotted, along with a pyramidal Orchid. Lets hope the swans don’t eat them.
The level of the lakes has understandably gone up after the continuous rain we had yesterday. and of course all the foliage has been weighted down over the paths. So our first job of the day is to cut it back to allow an easier passage around the park. But of course it has not effected the wildlife of the park who go about their daily lives business as usual. The poor Buzzard was again being mobbed by the combined forces of Rooks, Jackdaws and most of all Magpies, they forced it to drop its prey (an even more miserable Pigeon) and flee.
On a more pleasant note a flock of a dozen or so Long-Tailed Tits flitted about in the shrubbery chirping away merrily as they did. Meanwhile the Cygnets were looking rather expectantly at me for food, but I am afraid this time they did not not get any.
Monday afternoon, a bit of a sad note to end on, but one of our Cygnets has been found dead in one of the bottom lakes, it does not appear to be injured or harmed – just one of those things unfortunately.
Hello and welcome to the Prior Park occasional blog. In it we hope to keep everyone up to date about what is happening here in the Garden, such as coming events, work around the grounds and what wildlife and plants can be seen.
Today started off very peacefully as I wandered around the lakes at the bottom of the Park. The Mute swans with their 9 cygnets were on the top lake patiently waiting for food (we feed them every day), a green woodpecker was feeding on the grassy banks, one of the Grey herons making it’s almost prehistoric call and a little Wren was darting back and forth from its nest in the dam, feeding its young.
Meanwhile the Mallards, Coots, Moorhens and various Gulls were going about their lives on and around lakes.
The peace was shattered by a young fairly newly fledged buzzard being mobbed by some Magpies, somewhat maligned but never the less beautiful birds.
The day then truly started as our Friday volunteers arrived, including Joel and Nathan, 2 students from France and we all set about strimming and mowing the grass, shattering the peace in the process.
News on the cygnets, they had just heard that I was writing this blog and decided to come up into the work yard to have a look, Mum and Dad were a little concerned but in the end came up with them.