The weekend before last, Damian and my Dad were doing some repointing work to the side of our house, so I took the children for a walk around Reddish Vale to get them out of the house and to stop them from ‘helping’ too much! Reddish Vale is a place I’ve really grown to love over the last month and it’s a place the children are enjoying too as we explore and get to know it better.
We had a good wander around the lakes and it’s truly amazing just how many different types of birds you can see. I am, by no means, a proficient bird spotter; I can just about name the more common types of ducks. However, as we embark on our nature curriculum this week I want to be able to identify more of the creatures we see over the course of the year.
Whilst we were at Reddish Vale we managed to spot the beautiful Mute Swans and their two cygnets. I love watching the swans, as do the children. It was fun watching them pop their heads under and seeing the water roll off their feathers when they popped back up again. There’s an experiment to do with the children in a few weeks I think to demonstrate how their feathers stay waterproof.
We also spotted the herons, something that never fails to impress me. There tends to be one on the pond dipping pond past the butterfly meadow most days we have been there, although this time we did spot a good five or so on the main water areas. The most amazing spot was when we saw a lone heron on the decked area with some mallards. It started walking so I (wrongly) assumed it was about to take off in flight. However it walked around the decked area and grabbed a magpie out of a bush! I was truly astounded – it was only the distinctive squawking of the magpie and the flash of black and white that confirmed it was a magpie it has grabbed. It was amazing to see.
We of couse spotted pleny of mallards and one that resembled a mallard, but was much too stocky and much darker. I tweeted the RSPB to ask what it was and they promply informed me that it was in fact a ‘manky mallard’ – the name made me chuckle!
This is a hybrid domestic mallard, aka a Manky mallard.
— RSPB (@Natures_Voice) August 24, 2017
The children and I enjoyed watching the Great Crested Grebes and their young dive under the water – they are very beautiful birds and I intend to have a go at sketching one this week if I get chance. Miss E has a much better eye than me – she was able to spot them come up out of the water across the way – much better eye sight than me and I think she quite enjoyed looking out for them!
We also saw a robin – it was a great lesson for Mr D in patience and silence. We left some bird seed on the edge of the fence for it. I was confident it would come to take some if we could stay quiet enough and, sure enough, it hopped along to take a beak full!
On the walk back towards the car we spotted what I think are moorhen chicks – Miss E was very taken with these and they are lovely little things.
I was also lucky enough to spot a kingfisher. It’s the first time I have seen one and it’s colours were so striking. I wish I had had my camera in my hand but it flew off over the river before I could take a picture. I really hope I get to see one again on our next visit there. It is such a beautiful bird and I hope the children get to see it too.
I’m really looking forward to starting our nature curriculum and getting better at spotting the different birds and creatures.