The First Ducklings of 2018

Pictures of ducklings exploring the Gaywood River.

INTRODUCTION

I saw two broods of ducklings while on my way to a Musical Keys session on Saturday. 

THE PICTURES

I was delighted to see the ducklings, particularly in that location, on the Gaywood River, where they are far enough from the Great Ouse that they should not fall victim to large and aggressive gulls (yes, gulls do target ducklings).

Duck family outingDucklingspale ducklingducklingduck and ducklingFemale mallard with ducklingssix ducklings

Blue Tit and Butterfly

A blue tit and a butterfly from yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was a Musical Keys day, and on the way there I got a few photographs which I think warrant a post of their own, before I move on to the main meat of today’s blogging.

THE BLUE TIT

This was a picture I took more in hope than expectation, since small birds nearly always fly out fo shot before the camera has picked them up, but on this occasion fortune smiled…

Blue tit
blue tit in tree branches, on the path than runs betwee the King Edward the Seventh Academy and The King’s Lynn Academy.
Blue Tit - close up
The blue tit, extracted from the foregoing picture.

Blue tit - bird book

THE BUTTERFLY

As I approached the Scout Hut where Musical Keys sessions take place, walking along the bank of the Gaywood River I spotted a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. I investigated further and finished with six splendid pictures.

Tortoiseshell ButterflyTortoiseshell Butterfly IITortoiseshell Butterfly IIITortoiseshell Butterfly IVTortoiseshell Butterfly VTortoiseshell Butterfly VI

Different Bird Species – Same Pose

Two birds of different species exhibiting similar behaviour (which I have previously only ever observed in cormorants).

INTRODUCTION

This is whimsical little post inspired by an odd coincidence I observed while out walking yesterday.

DIFFERENT BIRDS, SIMILAR POSES

While I was out walking yesterday afternoon I saw a Muscovy duck in the stretch of the Gaywood River that is currently serving as home to a small colony of these unusual visitors to our shores posing in the fashion that cormorants sometimes so (for an amusing take on this see Anna’s recent cormorant drawing). Here is a composite picture featuring both posing birds:

juxtaposition

National Park Cities Thunderclap

Introducing the concept of National Park Cities, publicising a thunderclap about the same and displaying some of my own photographs.

INTRODUCTION

To take part in a Thunderclap you have to be on at least one of facebook, twitter or tumblr, so for the benefit of those among my readers who cannot take part I am also including some recent photos of my own that tie in well with this particular thunderclap. 

NATIONAL PARK CITIES

The idea behind this thunderclap, set up the folks at team4nature is that there are recognized health benefits to people having easy access to nature. Among the potential pioneers of the concept of a National Park City is London, and you can declare your support here. To take part in the thunderclap click here, or on the image below, which shows the story in full:

NPCTC

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my recent nature pictures, which also feature the two main parks in King’s Lynn, The Walks and Lynnsport Park and sections of Bawsey Drain and The Gaywood River.

GullsMerula IWalks IWalks IIWalks IIIWalks IVWalks VMerula IIMerula IIIMagpieGulls IIbirdsSmall birds ISmall birds IISmall birds IIISmall birds IVMerula IVbrown patchesOmniaOmnia IIgrey specklesdark muscovydark muscovy IItwo foron the bridgedark muscovy IIIGreymuscovies and mallardseightPanoramaParting shot

Can You Identify These Birds?

Can you identify these large water birds that I saw near Kettlewell Lane, King’s Lynn, today?

INTRODUCTION

I was out walking this afternoon, and one of the places I walked was a section of river that runs parallel to Kettlewell Lane in King’s Lynn. It was there that I saw some birds I have never seen before…

BIG NEW AVIAN FIND

These are large birds, similar in size and build to a goose, but with colouring unlike any goose I have ever seen, and not matching any of the goose species listed in my bird book. They were probably about half as big again in each direction as the mallards that I also saw (and due to being overfed King’s Lynn mallards are bigger than average mallards!). I have lots of photos for you…

Geese 1Geese 2Piebald birdWhite birdMixed plumagesVariegated birdsMixed birdsSplendid birdshiny birdMainly white birdMainly white bird IIBlack bodied birdPink billed birdBrown birdDark birdMainly Brown BirdSwimming Bird ISwimming Bird IISwimming Bird IIITwo birdstwinsFront ongrey and blackDouble actHeadBeakFront on shot

Based on the size of the birds and all the features that my camera managed to pick up can you identify them? If you can please let me know by commenting.

A Correction To My Previous Post

INTRODUCTION

A whole post to make a correction? Yes – this error is important enough to warrant such treatment as far as I am concerned.

THE CORRECTION

In the first published version of the post I put up earlier today I misattributed the exhibits that included living creatures from the Gaywood River to the Gaywood Valley Conservation Group. It was in fact put on by the Norfolk Rivers Trust, and I have just corrected the original (I realised my error while on the bus to Norwich and have been waiting for access to a computer to correct it).
two sticklebacks

 

The Gaywood River

An account of an educational event about the Gaywood River that took place in the Scout Hut on Beulah Street on Sunday.

INTRODUCTION

I have had a very busy few days, which is why there have been no new posts here since Saturday. I will mention my activities since Monday in later posts, but this post is solely concerned with the activity that dominated (in a good way) my Sunday. At the end of this post I will be including a variety of links related in various ways to its content. Here is a map showing the course of the Gaywood River:

FINDING OUT ABOUT THE EVENT

I got an email from my aunt a few days before the event was due to happen explaining her role in it and asking if I wished to meet her there and go back to hers for sausage and chips or if I would prefer a saturday supper. I decided that the event could be quite interesting, so I opted for the former course of action.

GETTING THERE

Since the event was taking place at the Scout Hut on Beulah Street, which is on the bank of the Gaywood (Beulah Street ends in a bridge that crosses the Gaywood into the car park that serves the Scout Hut) I was going to walking, and since it was a bright, sunny morning I decided on an extended route. Leaving my flat I headed across Baker Lane Car Park to the bridge over the upper Purfleet, heading across King Street to the north bank of the lower Purfleet. Here are some photos from that early part of the walk:

Moorhensigull with spread wings

From there I followed the line of the Great Ouse as far as my favourite cormorant observation point…

BoatCormorantiCormorantiiCormorantiiibirds 'n' churchcormorantiv

…before heading round by way of All Saint’s Church to the Library and entering the parkland area, following the Broadwalk until the path through the Vancouver Garden splits off from it, when I followed that and then the path out of the Vancouver Garden that joins the Tennyson Road end of St John’s Walk, at which point I was back on what would be the officially recommended walking route to Gaywood. There were squirrels about (in King’s Lynn only the grey ‘bushy-tailed rat’ variety as opposed to the red ‘Squirrel Nutkin” variety), though it is not always easy to get good photos of them…

SquirreliiiSquirreliv

Moorhen Chick
This picture and the next feature the heavily sculpted segment of the Gaywood River that passes through the parkland.

Moorhen parent and child

Traini
Apart from photograph opportunities the other plus side to being held up a by a train at the Tennyson Road level crossing is that you can cross the road itself in perfect safety as the cars are all stationary.

trainii

From Tennysod Road I followed the footpath the runs between the King Edward VII Academy and the Lynn Academy to Gaywood Road, which I crossed, then crossing the Gaywood on a pedestrian bridge before following its bank all the way to the Scout Hut. 

Butterfly
Although darker than their usual colouring I think from the markings that this is a peacock butterfly.
Gaywood river
A section of the Gaywood River

AT THE SCOUT HUT

Immediately outside the Scout Hut the Gaywood Valley Conservation Group had a gazebo and display boards (it was there that I took the photo that appears in the introduction). 

GazeboDisplay boardGaywood Valley 1LeafletsDisplay BoardGaywood Valley 2Gaywood Hidden HeritageGaywood Valley 3Display Board

Inside the hut was the Civic Society Stall, a cake stall, and various river related learning activities (colouring in pictures of river creatures for the artistically minded, an A-Z quiz of which more later). Although it was not the first thing I looked at, because it was my aunt’s reason for being there I start with…

THE CIVIC SOCIETY STALL

They were looking for people who knew about the history of the Gaywood river, because information boards will be going up at various points along it. They already had some good stuff, but wanted more.

Civic Soc display boardCS1CS2CS3CS4183818101960Wall DisplayMKBUrban Trees

Now we turn out attention to…

THE REST OF THE INDOOR ACTIVITIES

The cake stand looked awesome but discipline prevailed, and I did not sample any of the products. Although it was not really aimed at people my age I did the quiz, and predictably got all the answers in short order. The colouring proved popular, and many of the coloured creatures were then stuck on to a large picture of a river on the wall of the hut.

Quiz
I will reveal the answers (just in case anyone did not get them all) in a later post.

Colouring sheetsWall riverCakescolouring table

That is the inside stuff finished, but there was also plenty going on…

IN THE BACK GARDEN

There were two major centres of activity in the back garden, and I make my first port of call there, as I did on the day, at…

THE NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST GAZEBO

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust were showing children how to make portable ‘bug hotels’, and they also had a natural history display including a folder full of photographs of animals, and a stash of leaflets, to which I may return in a later post. 

NWTNH1NH3NH2NH4NH5NH6NH7NH8NH9NH10NH11NH12NH13NH14NH15NH16NH17NH18NH19NH20NH21NH22NH23NH24NH25NH26NH27NH28NH29NH30NH31NH32NH33NH34NH35NH36skull

We now come to what was for me the best of all the exhibits, courtesy of…

THE NORFOLK RIVERS TRUST

There were two parts to this exhibit. The minor part was display showing graphically how different treatment of land in the winter affects the soil:

Winter demo 1
These three models were side by side demonstrating what happens to soil when there is nothing there at all – gets washed straight into the river)…
Farm demo 2
When there are dead leaves covering it – still lots of it ends up in the river…
Farm demo 3
…and what happens when something suitable is planted – note the much clearer water at the end – most of this soil remains in place.

The second part of this display was a living exhibit from the river – two large buckets of river water with creatures that naturally live in it there to be seen (the amount of dissolved sediment in the water, the small size of these creatures and the fact that some of them live on the bottom of the river means that this the only way to make them visible). There was also a small sample dish which the person running the exhibit used to show as very small curiosities…

Caddis House
This is one of nature’s smallest houses – within it is a caddis fly larva, and at some point the adult fly will emerge.
Stickleback
The next three shots are of small sticklebacks.

Stickleback 2Stickleback 3

Gudgeon 1
This was described as a gudgeon, but looks different to the other gudgeons we will see later. The silvery sheen to its scales suggests a dace to my eyes.

Water shot

Stickleback 4
I am not sure what this piebald fish is, though it could be a stickleback.

Water shot 2

Sample dish
This shot of the sample dish showing the thumbnail of the dxemonstrator reveals just how tiny that Caddis fly home actually is – it was in this same dish that I saw it.

Water shot 3Water shot 4Water shot 5SaladsPond animals

Gudgeons1
Two gudgeons in the second bucket – note that as would be the case in the river they are at the bottom.

Gudgeons 2Water shot 6two sticklebacksWater shot 7Water shot 8Water shot 9

There was also a story teller outside…

Story

LINKS

To start this section we look at organisations who were actually involved in some way or other with this event:

Now we have a few science and nature websites:

  • Wildlife & Planet – interesting stuff about wildlife from all over the world.
  • WEIT – the website that grew out of Jerry Coyne’s classic book Why Evolution is True. 
  • Science Whys – the blog of Brandeis biology professor James Morris.
  • Rationalising the Universe – sets about accomplishing the big task laid out in its title and does a good job of it.
  • Faraday’s Candle – a science website that will really illuminate your life.

I conclude this section by mentioning a couple of bloggers who regularly feature nature in their work:

  • Cindy Knoke – keen photographer and nature lover. Below is the feature image from (and link to) her most recent post:
  • Anna – her posts about fighting to save nature in her part of the world are always inspiring, and her two recent series of posts “Paradise on Earth” and “Butterflies in Trosa” are both stunning. Below is the feature image from (and link to) her most recent butterfly post.

CONCLUSION

This was an excellent event and I learned a good deal about the history and nature of the Gaywood River. I have one kvetch which is that the event was poorly publicised – I only found out about it through my aunt and then only a few days before it was happening, meaning that anyone else I might have alerted would almost certainly have had other plans. If half of you have enjoyed this post even half as much as I enjoyed the event I have done a good job. I finish by urging you to take the time to follow up those links.