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Arnside and beyond

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Monday 13 February 2012: Goosanders

The Kendal Three have been much in evidence lately, including a starring role on Page 3 of last week's Westmorland Gazette. We had a meeting on the other side of Kendal today, so it was a good opportunity to walk the river Kent between Romney Bridge and Busher Walk, there and back. But alas, not an otter was to be seen.

But there were plenty of grey wagtails and dippers, and a lot of swans have appeared, perhaps displaced from frozen tarns in the Lake District. Meanwhile, at Stramongate Bridge we counted 15 goosanders. Elsewhere on the river, these birds are not easily approached, but here they compete for food with the mallards and gulls. As we left, another two were flying in.

In the photo are a male (nearest) and a female cruising in the late afternoon light on the rippled water of the River Kent. Goosanders, when they aren't eating bread and scraps, are fish-eating birds. They have thin bills with a turned over tip, and the bill is designed to give the bird a firm grip on a slippery fish.

On the walk I added a new species for the 2012 bird list, redpoll - two birds in scrub at the river's edge. That's now 91 species.

If you want to see the Kendal Three, there is a clip here.

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