And next is the hawthorn

With the lighter days, some shrubs are beginning to show leaf. Most trees are still bare, some with catkins, like the featured pussy willow. But now the hawthorn is coming into leaf, second only to the willow (earlier post).

Fresh hawthorn leaves at Shakerley Mere.

Soon all will be covered in leaves, all in the rush of the new energies of rapidly increasing light, of the spring equinox.

Water, ice and snow

The recent cold spell means that Shakerley Mere is part frozen, giving rise to patterns of water, ice and snow.

The common resident black-headed gulls sunbathe on the ice, awaiting walkers with food to offer.

Of course, at this time of year their heads are not black.

The gull on the right shows the dangers of bleaching from the low winter sun.

Goosanders at Shakerley

Our recent walk around the local Shakerley Mere showed some unusual visitors, in addition to the usual ducks, Canada geese, grebes, swans and the odd heron. There were cormorants in the trees, but also three unusual ‘ducks’. It soon became apparent that these were not dabblers, as they sped around the lake much faster than a mallard, diving under water for periods in the manner of grebes. Their speed made for difficult photography. This was the best one, at the limits of my pocket superzoom.

These are goosanders, also known as common mergansers in the US. Their long serrated ‘saw bills’ are ideal for catching fish.

According to Wikipedia these are seaducks, equally at home in salt and fresh water.

The heron and the swan

For less than a minute this grey heron and mute swan faced off on Shakerley Mere. They were perhaps in each other’s way. I managed to pull compact camera out of pocket and take this before the confrontation ended, the heron backing off. The heron seemed to be hissing at the swan, but I couldn’t capture that moment.

The limpid water gave rather good reflections of the individual birds.