Monday, 18 February 2013

1,000

What a milestone!  This is the 1,000th post on this blog and who would have thought that I would still be sharing all this rubbish with all and sundry for so long.  It all started on 27th October 2008 with This.  And here we are four years and four months later with today's offering.

It was a nice walk this morning round Shipley Hill and Osborne's Pond.  When we got there, it was nice to see a small group of Goosander (Mergus merganser) swimming about in the middle of the lake.
In all there were about five female birds and four males in the group and all were keeping frustratingly far away.  In the dull light, it was tricky to get a decent photo, but they are such beautiful birds it's always worth a try.  The males are striking with what seems like black and white plumage - their heads are actually a deep, velvety green colour and they have a reddish bill.  The females are often called 'red-heads' because of their more ruddy colouration.  First recorded as a breeding bird in Britain in Perthshire in 1871 there is evidence of them being in Britain at least 150,000 years ago during the penultimate period of glaciation.
Overwintering birds boost the population to about 12,000 individuals.  Fewer than half that number stay in Britain to breed.
I mentioned the Hazel catkins dangling from the branches last Friday.  Well, today i went searching for the female flowers among the catkins.  Very small and easy to overlook, they are in fact rather beautiful when you can track them down.  About the size of a grain of pudding rice, they are red and not very 'flower-like' at all, but they will produce the familiar hazel nuts later in the year.
That's all for the thousandth post.  Here's to the next thousand...!
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