Sunday, February 22, 2015


I am very lucky to work in a hospital that was built on a site that is surrounded by extensive parkland; the site of a former country house. This is a much needed green space on the edge of a large urban area. It is widely-used by the local population but sadly much underused by the hospital staff. It provides me with welcome respite from my work and would surely benefit more people if only they would stretch their legs and investigate what the park has to offer. I know from personal experience that wildlife watching is very therapeutic.
I have birdwatched this area for a number of years and over that time I have seen some special birds including Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo, Kingfisher and even a flock of Whimbrel. There is an ornamental lake and waterfall that attracts a small selection of wildfowl, but a surprise visitor the other day was a stunning Little Egret. Not so long ago this was a real rarity, even nationally, but the nearby Dee Estuary has a thriving breeding population, but this was a first for me in the park.
Another bird that has increased in the park recently is the Mandarin Duck. This is an introduced species but the gaudy males are stunning birds. They have bred in the park in recent years but on a lunchtime stroll last week I saw more than a dozen males; the most that I have ever seen at one time. And what a spectacular sight they made; parading like little rainbow-coloured sailing boats with their orange spinnakers on full display. Their beauty was somewhat undermined by their pig-like grunting! The females were far-more demure and subtly-plumaged. I only had my compact camera with me at the time, so I vowed to return with my DSLR to try obtain some sharper images.



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