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Circa 2008-2010, I would walk the fields, feed the wildlife, and take photos, at the Broughton Crossing lakes. This was before the Kingsbrook estate was built. Most of my photos were of wildflowers, and the birds, predominately Swans and Canada Geese, who nested on the islands in the lakes.
QDs in town sell swan and duck food nutritionally engineered to supplement their diets and that was a great aid in befriending them and taking some photos I’m proud of, and that are pleasant memories. I’d like to share them with you in this post. I hope you will enjoy it.
After a number of weeks or months of visiting, the Canada Geese and the Swans soon got used to my presence, and would happily eat from my hand. As the months, and years, went on, and the wildlife had learned that I wasn’t a threat – but rather a source of food, they would rub their necks against me, and on one memorable occasion when I was laying down catching some rays, a Swan scrambled up on to my belly, stood there, and started honking!
On the islands in the lakes, and other quieter places, the waterfowl would nest, and when their young were born, the cute, little, fluffy balls of downy fur would come just as close as the parent Geese or Swan. Like this pair of cute Canada Goose goslings…
Canada geese are a familiar sight throughout the UK, where they have become established as a non-native species originating from North America.
One of the most striking features of Canada geese is their impressive size and distinctive markings. These birds can grow up to 1.2 meters in length, with a wingspan of up to 1.7 meters. They are easily recognizable by their black heads, white cheeks, and brown bodies, which give them a striking and elegant appearance.
Another fascinating aspect of Canada geese is their impressive migratory abilities. These birds are known for their long-distance flights, and they are capable of travelling up to 1,500 miles in a single journey. During the winter months, many Canada geese leave the UK and head south to warmer climes, such as the Mediterranean and North Africa, before returning in the spring to breed and raise their young.
Watching a family of Canada Goose goslings grow and develop over the spring and summer months is a true joy for any nature lover. From their soft, downy feathers to their awkward, ungainly movements, these charming creatures never failed to lift my spirits. I felt privileged to share my local environment with these beautiful birds and the many other species that were there.
Mute Swans were another big presence at the lakes, with their distinctive white feathers and bright orange bills. One interesting fact about mute swans is that they are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. Despite their name, they are not actually mute and can make a range of vocalizations.
Mute swans are also known for their aggressive behaviour when defending their territory and young. They will hiss, flap their wings, and even attack with their bills if they feel threatened. It’s important for nature lovers to keep a safe distance from nesting swans to avoid disturbing them. After years of seeing them, they would let me get close enough to throw some food pellets within the reach of their long necks though, but I would never get closer, mindful not to make them uncomfortable or aggressive.
In addition to being a beautiful sight in nature, mute swans also play an important ecological role. They are herbivores and help to control the growth of aquatic vegetation in waterways, which can improve water quality and reduce the risk of flooding.
The hedgerows, fields, and trees surrounding the lakes were a haven for bird life, and many other creatures. Often the corner of an adjacent field would flood, and on one such occasion, I was fortunate enough to take some shots of some Geese I hadn’t seen before. They are Chinese Geese aka Swan Geese, and are quite rare in these parts I believe.
In the lakes field, I also saw Snipes, Herons, Moorhens, and Coots can occasionally be seen.
Moorhens are a member of the rail family and are identifiable by their distinctive red and yellow beaks, and their chestnut brown plumage. They are omnivorous birds and will feed on a variety of foods including plants, insects, and small fish. They are monogamous birds, and will often mate for life. Both parents take an active role in caring for their young, teaching them how to forage for food and providing protection from predators.
There is comfort and calm to be found in nature. Admittedly, every year, you have to walk or travel further out of town to experience it, as the town continually expands. But whether you’re in good or bad mood, there is much to observe – such as the wildlife going about their much more simple lives – caring for, protecting, and teaching their young, foraging for food, and generally splashing about!
I will be visiting the Broughton Crossing lakes again soon, after many years, and I am hoping some of the wildlife has come back now the machinery that scared them away has long gone, and Kingsbrook is now an established and settled part of the town. I’ll let you know what I see in the comments!