Monday 30 September 2013

Bird Group Visits Ward Park

Last Monday the weather was a bit iffy, however my bird class decided to go out so we walked through Ward and Castle Park, up to the Walled Garden and back again.  It only rained when we were in the Walled Garden and so we went into the glass houses to see what they had planted this year.

There were the usual Black headed Gulls and Mallards and we enjoyed seeing the birds in the aviaries (later post).  As you would have seen from yesterday's post, the Greylag Geese have arrived, however these 2 Geese looked different and I think they are a mix of Canada and Greylag.

These are part of my Bird Group.  There are 10 members although not all were there that day.  One thing I did not know until that day and that was that 4 of them were over 80 years old and all as sharp as a tact!!

As we walked through Castle Park we looked at various trees as they are a great age and this one caught our eye.  The bark was fantastic.  I took some close ups (see below).

As we walked through we hear Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, saw Blackbirds, Magpie and Derek, one of our members spied a Heron on top of a very high tree some distance away.  It took quite a while before all the group were able to see it.

This is the group sheltering from the rain.  The gardeners had planted quite a number of varieties of tomatoes, some aubergines and peppers. (see below)

Then we went into another glass house and saw this beautiful bud on the twisted stem, another bud bursting out and then the purple flower.  If anyone knows what it is, please let me know.

As we were walking out of the Walled Garden, I looked up and saw the mast which they had very cleverly hidden in this conifer tree above.

Then we passed the Greylag Geese as we headed for home but not before passing these lovely Kaffir Lilies, Begonias, Hostas and Nausturiums.

Now I have a very short video that can be accessed at

If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear.

Many thanks for visiting my post today and I hoped you enjoyed it.

Greylag Goose

 Greylag Goose, Anser anser is the ancestor of domesticated geese in Europe and North America. Flocks of feral birds derived from domesticated birds are widespread.  Within science, the Greylag Goose is most notable as being the bird with which the ethologist Konrad Lorenz first did his major studying into the behavioural phenomenon of imprinting.

While walking through the park beside  my home, Ward Park, I took these photographs and video.  Throughout the photos I will intersperse some information.

The Greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the grey geese of the genus Anser.  It has a rotund, bulky body, a thick and long neck, and a large head and bill.  It has pink legs and feet, and an orange or pink bill.  
It is 29 to 36 ins long with a wing length of 16.2 to 19 ins. It has a tail 2.4 to 2.7 ins a bill of 2.5 to 2.7 ins long, and a tarsus of 2.8 to 3.7 ins. It weighs 2.16 to 4.8 to 10.1 lb, with a mean weight of around 7.3 lbs. The wingspan is 58 to 71 ins. 
Males are generally larger than females.

The plumage of the Greylag Goose is greyish-brown, with a darker head and paler belly with variable black spots. Its plumage is patterned by the pale fringes of its feathers. It has a white line bordering its upper flanks. Its coverts are lightly coloured, contrasting with its darker flight feathers. Juveniles differ mostly in their lack of a black-speckled belly.

In the UK, Greylag Geese breed from the beginning of April to May, laying usually five to eight eggs in a large nest amongst floating vegetation or hidden in reeds.  The incubation period is about 28 days and, unlike many species of waterfowl, the male goose or gander stays with the family group.  

Geese, in fact, have a more cohesive family unit than ducks and both parents guard the goslings against attacks from other birds or predatory mammals.  The Greylag Goose family continues to remain together throughout the year and will migrate from their wintering grounds as a group within a larger flock.  Only when the adult birds are ready to establish a new breeding territory will the gander drive off the previous year’s young birds.

Geese are primarily grazing birds, although they also take grain, root crops and leafy vegetation. Geese have relatively short bills, and prefer pasture or meadows that are grazed by cattle or sheep.  A flock of geese will work their away across the fields, nibbling the more nutritious growing shoots of the grass or cereal crop. Grass, by itself, is not particularly high in nutrients, and geese have to eat almost continuously in order to gain any nourishment from it. 
To allow these bulky birds to be able to take-off in an emergency, they process this grass at a remarkable rate.  The birds defecate almost continuously whilst grazing so that their gut is not weighed down with food and they can still make a quick getaway if danger threatens.

Greylag geese are a migratory species and their breeding and wintering range extends across much of Europe and Asia.  Greylags breed in Iceland, around the North Sea and Baltic coasts of Scandinavia, Finland and Northern Europe, and southwards through central Eastern Europe and western Russia as far south as the Black Sea.  Winter populations range from the Iberian east coast, across southern Europe and Asia Minor, through the Himalayas and Thailand to the China Sea.

In Great Britain, their numbers had declined as a breeding bird, retreating north to breed wild only in the Outer Hebrides and the northern mainland of Scotland. However, during the 20th century, feral populations have been established elsewhere, and they have now re-colonised much of England. The breeding habitat is a variety of wetlands including marshes, lakes, and damp heather moors.

In Norway, the number of Greylag Geese is estimated to have increased three- to five fold during the last 15–20 years. As a consequence, farmers' problems caused by goose grazing on farmland has increased considerably. This problem is also evident for the pink-footed goose.

This is a close up of their feathers.

This species is one of the last to migrate, and the "lag" portion of its name is said to derive from this lagging behind other geese.

Close up of their feet and legs.

Now don't tell the geese this!!!  

Traditionally eaten at Michaelmas, Mrs Beeton recommends cooking with a glass of port or wine to which has been added a teaspoon of mustard, some salt and a few grains of cayenne pepper. 

It has a loud cackling call, HOOOOOONK!, like the domestic goose.
The video can be accessed at

If there is a black space below, Click it and the video will appear.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I am just back from the weekend away without internet access so have not been able to look at any blogs.

Thank you for visiting.

Thispost islinked to The D'pot

Friday 27 September 2013

Garden Birds at Breakfast Time

Often while having my breakfast I sit at a window looking onto my back garden (with camera) and watch the birds that arrive in a 15 minute period.   The small birds are a bit tricky  to photograph as thy are so quick at the feeders so I thought I might catch more footage on video which you will see at the end of the post.
I have 2 Collared Doves come regularly however only one of them was there that morning.

There is always a Robin in my  garden and I think sometimes he thinks he is a Hummingbird as he tries to hover at the feeders!


The Coal, Blue and Great Tits are regular visitors however do not stay long on the feeders but quickly dash into the bushes and trees to consume the seeds.  I managed to catch a few more birds on the video so hopefully you will enjoy it.

The video can be accessed at

If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear.

I hope you enjoyed the birds that arrived in my back garden the other day.

Thank you for visiting.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Bangor Birding Group Goes To County Antrim

Last Saturday five of us made our way to Ballycarry Bridge but the tide was out although we saw 4 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron, Gulls, Redshanks, Cormorant, Shag and Mallard.  We then moved to Glynn where we saw Great crested Grebe, Teal, 23 Red breasted Merganser,Swallows, House Martins, Black Guillemot, Buzzard, more Gulls and Lapwing.  We  made out way to the river where we saw the Grey Wagtail, Jackdaw, Rook, Goldfinch, Wren and Bluetit. At the lagoon near a Ruby Club we saw 13 Greenshank, Rock and Meadow Pipit.  On our way home we called into the RSPB Belfast Reserve were there 9 Snipe, Moorhen, Coot, Common Terns, Curlew, Wood Pigeon, Oystercatcher and Black tailed Godwit. Total species seen -51.  I also saw Speckled Wood and small White Butterflies.

I hope you enjoyed this  post and I thank you for visiting. 
 I appreciate your comments