Patience pays off

After weeks of relentless rainfall the sun has finally returned to Aberystwyth, just in time for the beginning of summer! Taking up my usual uncomfortable (and slightly damp) seat on the slipway beside the harbour edge this morning I soaked up some much needed sunshine whilst waiting to see what birdlife might appear. An hour…

The darker side of ducks

For all creatures no matter how great or small, their primary aim in life is to survive long enough to reproduce and pass on their genes to the next generation. This instinct can result in some startling behaviour as demonstrated with the local mallard population here in Aberystwyth. Mallards are very common birds and often…

Bird Behaviour: Food sharing

Many species of bird will share food with each other, a behaviour known as allo-feeding. This most commonly occurs between parents feeding their chicks however it is also seen among adults, particularly during the breeding season and as part of courtship behaviour. But why should a bird waste energy feeding it’s partner who is more…

Love is in the air

Although capable of breeding year round (provided they can find enough food) the harbour pigeons have waited for the welcome return of warmer weather before beginning their breeding efforts. Now this spring is well underway, the quiet morning air is regularly filled with the sounds of the male pigeons soft cooing calls as they strut…

Sing your heart out

It is that time of year again when the air is filled with birdsong as territories are defended and there are potential mates to impress. Today a male house sparrow was making his presence felt, singing loudly from these railings with his wings lowered and quivering from the effort. The song of the house sparrow…

Spring fever

As spring fever grips the country, here in Aberystwyth the mallard population have kicked off their breeding season with a bout of enthusiastic courtship displays. The purpose of such behaviour is for the males to demonstrate their health and desirability as a mate, and for the females to choose the best fathers for their offspring….

Young gulls

It is nearing the end of summer, and for most birds the breeding season is over for another year.¬†For the Herring Gulls though, their work isn’t over just yet. The gulls begin nesting from late May onward and usually lay a clutch of around 3 eggs. Chicks remain in the nest for up to 40-50…

Five fluffy cygnets

I have now spent a few days watching the mute swan family from a frustrating distance, as they introduced their newly hatched cygnets to the territory but keeping their distance from my side of the river. Happily today they finally entered the harbour ‘gap’ and into range of my camera as the tide rose around…

Fight for survival

Sadly it seems that the failure of last year’s mallard ducklings to survive is set to repeat for a second year. Just a day after the ducklings left the safety of their nest before my very eyes (see here), only one duckling remains at it’s mothers side. The others were most likely predated by the…

Baby boom!

It’s 1st of June, also the first day of meteorological summer and it seems that today is the day for a baby boom! Almost exactly a year to the date from the arrival of last year’s cygnets, this summer the Mute Swan pair have successful hatched five tiny babies. Hopefully this bigger brood will increase…

Shall we dance?

With full bellies and the sun warm on their backs the pigeon flock were feeling in a flirtatious mood today, with the males keen to strut their stuff and impress a mate. During courtship the male birds puff out their neck feathers to look as big and impressive as possible and emphasize the iridescence green…

Swan courtship

This morning I experienced one of those “right place, right time” moments. No sooner had I got down into the harbour with my camera, did I find the resident pair of Mute Swans acting unusually. They were swimming in very close contact and dipping their heads into the water and preening their wing feathers in…