Breaking the Ice

10.30 a.m.: Most of the mallards and mute swans, along with a female goosander and a female wigeon, have gathered in a patch of open water on sunny side of the frozen Lower Lake at Nostell but increasing numbers of mallard are making their way to the corner near Sheep Bridge, where there’s a chance that visitors might feed them.

Not wanting to be left out, the resident swan family starts making its way over, keeping close to the shore where the ice is thinnest.

I think that it’s the male, the cob, that is taking the lead, pushing through the ice. He’s the larger of the pair and has a thicker a neck than the female.

Males have a larger knob on their bills than the females but I can’t see much of a difference between the two. Perhaps this is something that becomes more pronounced as spring, and the mating season, arrives.

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