I paid a visit to one of my local country parks, Buchan, during April after reading that their female great-crested grebe had finally joined the male there on Douster Pond. I had never seen one before so thought it would be the perfect opportunity to tick another species off my bird list and if I was lucky, catch them doing their infamous mating dance. I wasn't disappointed!
I only caught a small snippet of the dance, but it was enough to see them shaking their heads and swimming away and back in a perfect mirror-image of one another. I was really, really pleased to have seen it. They certainly are beautiful birds, particularly the russet colouring around their heads.
I also enjoyed watching this cormorant busy himself with lots of diving to the bottom of the pond. Trying to catch a photo of him when he kept disappearing was a challenge; I had to try and predict where he would resurface next! Alongside the grebes and cormorant were coots, moorhens with four very new chicks, canada geese, foraging blackbirds and mallards. Buchan had mentioned on their Facebook page that they also had Mandarin ducks on the pond, but sadly I couldn't find these. I wish I had as they are another species I haven't seen before!
Last month I went on a long walk through the countryside. We followed footpaths we'd never walked before and discovered fields and tracks we never knew were there. Best of all, we heard the first cuckoo of the year, a day before it is traditionally heard! What an unmistakable call; I don't quite know how anyone can possible mistake it for a wood pigeon. I also spotted a blackcap on that walk and plenty of butterflies including orange-tips, small tortoiseshells and peacocks.
The blue tits have officially nested in our new nestbox. I collected fur taken from our cats' brush and some hair dropped by the passing horses on our lane and put it out for the birds; it was extremely popular and was carried away by the tits very quickly. It was wonderful to see them with beaks full of fur and knowing that their nest would be the cosiest in the neighbourhood!
Both the blue tits and the nuthatches have recently started carrying insects into their nests. It's hard to tell the parents apart but after reading up on their nesting habits, I've decided it's a bit too early for their eggs to have hatched (I certainly haven't heard any chicks cheeping) so the food must be from the male feeding the female as she incubates the eggs. I'm greatly anticipating the day when the chicks fledge!