|Photographs of wild flora and fauna l have taken whilst walking around Gazen Salts Nature Reserve, The Ramparts, along the River Stour, Sandwich Bay, and other wildlife country walks around the historic town of Sandwich and the county of Kent, where l also happen to live.|
|Gazen Salts Nature Reserve|
The woodlands are also home to many flora species, such as primroses, celandine, dog rose, oak, ash, wild cherry, elm, field maple, wild privet, marsh marigold marshmallow, meadowsweet, black bush, yellow iris and many other exciting plants of interest.
The lake and the waterways in the Reserve are sustained by a sluice gate connected to the River Stour.
The waters further feed and play host to a diverse range of wildlife, including species such as sticklebacks, pond skaters, diving beetles, frogs and toads, newts, kingfishers, moorhens, bats, rats, shrews, weasels, stoats, foxes, hedgehogs, moles, water voles, grass snakes, mallard, tufted, pochard and shoveler ducks, warblers, woodpeckers, blackcaps, sparrowhawks, grey squirrels, parakeets and others including many butterfly species too.
|I use the following cameras and lenses; Canon IXUS 185 8 x Optical Zoom, Canon EOS 700D, 18-55mm Lens, 75-300mm Zoom Lens and extension tubes for macro photography.|
|Natural Encounters Season 2|
|If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. |
Laura Ingalls Wilder
|Musical Score – Stardust|
|Wildlife Snippets of Interest!|
Also known as Marsh Hens and Waterhens are members of the Rail family and are found in freshwater streams, town parks and nature reserves, lakes and ponds and other aquatic type environments.
Moorhens are omnivorous. I often see moorhens when walking, and l find them to be nervous birds and quite skittish. They feed whilst walking and foraging on plants like chickens, searching for grasses, fallen seeds and berries. They will readily take small fish species, small rodents, algae, tadpoles, insects and water spiders, snails, and worms. Adults measure between 30 – 38 cm.
The males are slightly larger than the females, and both sexes are very similar looking. The moorhen has a striking red bill tipped with yellow on a dark brown-black body and a grey underside striped with white sides and undertail. Its long toes help it to walk on floating vegetation and riverbed banks.
Moorhens are not the most substantial flyers l have seen, preferring low height flight in short spurts. They walk with a strange gait and swim forward in jerky motion as if always late for an appointment! If surprised, they will dive for cover or underwater.
Moorhen females lay between 6 – 12 eggs and may have between 2 – 3 litters per season. Both males and females care for and raise the young. Young moorhen chicks can forage for themselves after three weeks. Youngsters stay with their parents to assist with later clutches. Moorhen chicks are precocial [meaning they can leave the nest and feed themselves within a few days after birth].
|Gallery Above, River Stour Sunrise, Mallard Ducks, Maple, European Robin, Moorhen and Yellow Flag iris.|
|Wildlife Snippets of Interest!|
If it looks and sounds and swims like a duck, chances are it’s a mallard duck! I like most ducks but do have a soft spot for the mallards, and they are plentiful where l live. Mallards are widespread wildfowl in Britain and are found in almost any body of water in both rural and urban environments.
Mallards are long ducks with an overall body length of around 60cm with a wingspan of about three feet. Male’s [drakes] bodies are a buff grey with a dark green head, a yellow bill and a dark brown mauve breast and darker rear, whilst females [hens] have a mottled brown body with orange bills. Both drakes and hens have a blue speculum with a white feathered border on their wings, which is often seen in the females at rest and on the males when in flight.
Mallard ducks begin to pair up for breeding between October and November, and the nesting starts in March and continues through to the end of July. April is mid-season. The male leaves the female once the eggs arrive and has nothing to do with the rearing. The incubation period of the eggs is around 28 days.
A mallard egg clutch can have anywhere between eight to fifteen eggs. However, the survival ratio of ducklings can be variable – 30-50% due to predation. Magpies, seagulls and hawks, poor weather conditions, diseases, other ducks, large fish and predatory animals like foxes. Ducklings take between 50 to 70 days before they can fly.
The Mallard duck’s diet is omnivorous and comprises seeds, berries, aquatic plants, bugs and small fish.
|Gallery Above, Moorhen, Mallard Ducks, Magpie, European Robin and Plum Tree Blossom|