Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just a Glimpse of the Orient


On Monday D and I went for a walk with a friend alongside the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we enjoyed these views. This is the start of our walk.


The Wendover Arm was first constructed in 1797, but as sections of it leaked it was "de-watered". From 1989 onwards it has been restored and this is what it looks like today.







Kingfishers can be seen along the canal, but we didn't see any on Monday. There were lots of other birds though, ducks, moorhens, coots and dabchicks (otherwise known as little grebes), busy diving and collecting nest material.






The ducks were in fine form, taking off a high speed and then landing with legs flailing before splash-down.


Further along the canal we saw a swan sitting on a large nest over on the other side.



The canal opens up into an area known as the Wides, with areas of grass and shrubs with a tiny island on the far side. Trees have invaded what was once open water and without management the canal would disappear in a few years.

Then came a surprise - a pair of mandarin ducks. I'd never seen these before; they looked very different from the other birds on the canal, but just so beautiful. The male has very distinctive chestnut brown and orange fan wings sticking up above his body, whilst the female is a duller brown with white spots. They were swimming together in and out of the trees. When I came home I looked them up in our bird books. Originally from China these ducks like streams and overgrown lakesides in broad leaved woodland and they nest in tree cavities. The canal is the perfect place for them.




4 comments:

GeraniumCat said...

That sounds like a lovely walk. Don't the mandarin ducks look exotic on an English waterway! I've only seen them in bird collections, I think.

Cath said...

What a lovely spot for a walk. Tow paths are perfect if you just want a flat undemanding stroll. We often walk along our local one which is only 12 miles long, but has many access points letting on to some very varied parts of the countryside between here and Wellington. Thank you for sharing your photos.

BooksPlease said...

Geraniumcat, I don't think I've seen them in bird collections and you're so right - they looked exotic.

Cath, tow paths are brilliant and in the Chilterns there are a few to enjoy as well as the hills.

Les said...

That male mandarin duck almost looks like a decoy! What a treat to see one!