great crested grebe

Diving Ducks

next day nature diary previous day back Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary,
Monday 1st November 1999

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larch needle path A BRIGHT OCHRE PATH runs through the plantation conifers in Newmillerdam Country Park near Wakefield. Not fresh wet sand, as I'd thought, but an even carpet of larch needles. The conifers here were planted for pit props. Who would have guessed 30 years ago that, by the time this crop was mature, deep mining would have been almost entirely replaced by opencast.

Today Ellington, Northumbria, the last colliery in the north east has closed. One of the problems was the cost of replacing the old pit props.

tufted duck feeding tufted duck diving Six or seven Tufted Ducks are diving over a patch nor far from the shore of the lake. I see one emerge with an object that is a little larger than an acorn in its bill. It rotates the object around in its bill, repeatedly biting it. The object drops back in the water but the duck immediately dives and recovers it. I wonder if it is dealing with a water snail or a small freshwater mussel. If so it doesn't discard the shell. It swallows the whole item.

Several of the ducks go through the same routine.

hybrid goose and Canada goose heron A large goose on the lake appears to be a hybrid between a Canada and a farmyard goose.

A Heron wades in the shallow top end of the lake, then flies past us, neck and feet tucked in, which gives it a compact silhouette.

In the car park on School Hill, the site of the former Newmillerdam Colliery, there is a single stunted plant of Vipers Bugloss still in flower next to a kerb stone.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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