Waterside Walk

ABOUT THREE-QUARTERS of the lake at Newmillerdam is ice-covered this morning but there’s room for Tufted Ducks to dive, apparently for freshwater mussels, in a spot ten or twenty yards from the shore between the boathouse and the war memorial, where I’ve seen them diving before.

Can there really be so many mussels in the lake?

Nearer the shore we can see these shells, at least some of which look empty. I’ve boosted the contrast in the photograph because of the glare on the water surface.

Amongst the Mallards there’s a single Pink-footed Goose, which hisses as it pecks at some scraps that a visitor has left on the path.

Barbara picks up this feather which I assume is from the goose but looking at my photograph of the bird, a breast feather like this should be greyer and banded horizontally, rather than streaked vertically, so I think this is more likely to be a feather from a female Mallard.

At first glance, as it dives under, the Dabchick or Little Grebe looks like a diminutive duck but, as it keeps bobbing up briefly, we can see the more pointy bill of the grebe. By the boathouse we see a Goosander, a saw-billed duck (the saw-like edges of the bill help it grip small fish).

I’ve drawn squirrel-nibbled cones on several occasions but, as it was too cold to be comfortable to stop and sketch, I picked these up to draw in the studio later.


As we walk back through the conifer plantations, there’s a twittering all around us in the tops of the trees. Even with binoculars I can see no more than a dark silhouette, possibly with streaky plumage, but the shape and the shallow notch in the tail make me think it’s a finch and the size, about the size of a Blue Tit, narrows it down to Siskin. Siskins visit in large flock during winter and often visit conifer plantations.

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1 Comment

  1. I like your tufty duck! The lake walk looks very beautiful and interesting — but cold. I’m very impressed with your drawing skills. Wish I could do that.

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