Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Kearsney Abbey and Bushy Ruff

Not too far from St Margaret's is the picturesque gardens and parkland at Kearnsey Abbey. It is a popular place for a walk in the fresh air but there are still quiet areas where you can get a closer look at the wild life there.
The two lakes are host to numerous Mute Swans, Coots, Moorhens and Mallards and at this time of the year many Gulls come in to bathe and rest on the lakes. Many of the Moorhens were feeding on the lawns and in one area I counted 55 together.

This Mute Swan had just finished a thorough preen and was having a stretch. Preening is an extremely important function for birds as this is when they waterproof their feathers. They collect an oil from their preen glands, on their beaks and carefully apply it to their feathers. Without it the expression "like water off a ducks back" would have a lot of meaning!
Just across the road from here is the little park of Bushy Ruff, a small and almost hidden treasure. Also situated on the River Dour, Bushy Ruff is at the western end of the more form Russell Gardens. The lake has many of the same species as Kearnsey Abbey and there were a few small birds in the surrounding trees.

This Goldcrest was singing its high pitched, breathless little song from the sunny side of the trees, unlike the one I tried to photograph across the road, which remained resolutely in the shade.
As I sat watching the bathing gulls and other waterfowl I heard the braying call of the Dabchick. After quite a wait one finally came out of the vegetation by a shady bank and fed not to far from me.
At one point all the ducks etc. swam towards the bank on one side of the lake. I've often seen birds do this when a fox if near by, they seem to have a sense of curiosity that puts them in a certain amount of danger. In this case it was this very handsome cat. The owners obviously try and make it difficult for this one to catch birds as it carries round its own alarm bell.

As this was going on the Wren above came out to give me a blast of its song. What an amazingly loud noise they make. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, but althoughthere were no surprises I did take a lot of photographs that can be seen by clicking here.

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