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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wed 8th May 2013 - Corfe Camp, Porchfield.

A return visit this week to Corfe Camp near Porchfield, and luckily it had not started raining - yet!  Tasks included a fair amount of ditching work, as many of them have got clogged up with leaves and branches over the winter, and keeping them clear improves the drainage for the camping sites; there was also a fair amount of pruning in several places around the site, and ensuring the boundary areas of dead wood and cut branches were tidy.  We also went back to those areas we cleared of trees and bramble last time, to ensure that there were no trip hazards by cutting any tree stumps level with the ground

Carrie’s Nature Lesson.

A nature lesson with a difference this week, the subject is something alive! This beautiful juvenile mute swan (Cynus olor) was very happy to have his picture taken at Newtown Creek.  These are one of our largest waterfowl, can be up to 155cm long with a wingspan of 200-240cm, and weigh as much as 15kg. The adult has an all white plumage, sometimes with a yellowish tone, black feet and an orange/red beak with a black knob at the root, this being noticeably larger in the male.  The young are born with a grey, downy plumage that is gradually replaced by brown feathers, that slowly turn white in the first 1-1½ years, and their beaks are grey. The mute swan is usually silent, but it can make a hissing sound if it feels threatened, although they can be quite tolerant of human presence (the subject of the picture was only a couple of feet away).

They live near water such as lakes, moors and shallow waters feeding exclusively on vegetation found in the water or on the banks. Each couple requires a fairly large territory that it defends from other swans and sometimes also from other aquatic birds.  Breeding starts at the age of three, and in late spring the mute swan makes a huge nest where 3-7 eggs are laid, hatching out after 35 days. The mute swan is very protective of its nest and offspring and can be very aggressive towards intruders.  It is capable of delivering a strong blow with its wings, but rarely bites.

Many thanks to Carrie for the editorial, photographs and nature lesson.

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