Friday, 21 January 2011

A library, some swings, and the odd Goosander!


Tuesdays stroll took us to our local park at Hillsborough. Hillsborough Park was created in 1897 by the Dixon Family, who built Hillsborough Hall. It is now owned by Sheffield City Council and the hall is used as a library. Although in the centre of a suburban area and overlooked by The Sheffield Wednesday Football Ground, Hillsborough Park has hidden areas where wildlife is abundant such as the fishing lake and a walled garden next to the library with plenty of trees and bushes for small birds to feed on and a small wildlife pond.
After seeing on the Sheffield Bird Study Group [] that several female Goosanders, known as Redheads due to their appearance and a Goosander drake had been spotted on the pond we decided to have a look!
We took the dog along for the ride hoping that she wouldn't scare the ducks too much...or them scare her! We started off walking around the path around the large grassed area in the park and soon spotted a pied wagtail in a muddy area looking for a snack! As we approached the pond we could see the usual suspects such as Mallards, Canada Geese, Moorhens and Coots and two of the unusual looking Muscovy Ducks.

Muscovies are the only domestic ducks that are not derived from mallard stock. Wild muscovies coloration is black and white, but domestication has produced many different colours. They also have a bright red crest around their eyes and above the beak.
As we circled the pond we spotted what we had hoped for, Goosanders. Nestled next to one of the islands in the pond we saw seven Redheads and the one drake. They seemed very comfy by the island so unfortunately we didn't get to see them too close up but were more than pleased with our sighting.
We also managed to spot two female and one male Tufted Duck. Tufted Ducks are a bird that are normally pigeon-holed as a different coloured Mallard to the casual dog walker, however on close inspection, you can see why they have the name 'Tufted' Duck. Like a slicked back 1980's hairstyle, the tuft is very easilly seen on the heads of  both male and females, with the males showing off with the longer tuft to accompany its blazen white side panels compared to  the more dull light brown colour of the female.

After our walk with the waterfowl we ventured to the walled gardens which were the secret garden style private gardens of the Dixon Family at Hillsborough Hall in the 1800's. As we walked towards the wildlife pond where newts can be spotted we heard a very territorial grey squirrel shouting at another in the next tree! It was either territorial, or rabid, either way we didn't want to get any closer to it!
Ever present Blue Tits and Blackbirds were fluttering about either above us in the trees, or scavenging around the floor. 
Then to our surprise(Especially me, Sam, as it was my first sighting!) a Waxwing flew over our heads towards a part of the garden that was even more secret, basically it was locked so we couldn't get in!
With our necks still transfixed backwards looking to the sky, we were lucky to see a graceful Grey Heron fly above, no doubt back to its tree to roost for the night, either that or it fancied a game of crown green bowling on the lawns bang behind where we were. 

It just goes to show that even the more run of the mill places, like a local park can be ram packed with wildlife. You just have to squint that little bit more!

As always any new species that we have mentioned in this blog will be detailed at the left hand side of the page, just click on the name and you will be able to find out all the information you want, well apart from what their favourite film is, or shirt collar size. 

All the best, and happy wildlife watching
Sam & Jam x 

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