Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Shelduck fly by

A pair of shelducks flying above the shilloe slopes on the south side of Arnside Knott.  The male on the right is recognisable by the boss at the base of his bill.  Somewhere up on the steep rocky hill slope, possibly in a rabbit burrow they will have their nest. They are particularly active in their morning flights along the south side at the moment, sometimes just a pair, sometimes five or more, communicating through a high pitched chatter.

There have been birds doing this on and off since March, the pair bond formed before that. Now is said to be the time when the eggs are laid, and in a month the young will hatch out. Once the eight or more ducklings have hatched, the adults will take them on a long and perilous walk to water, from here more than half a mile with numerous obstacles of hedges, walls, fences and minor roads to cross.

Suitable breeding sites close enough to Morecambe Bay and the Kent estuary are in short supply. Which is why one of my former colleagues was leading a project to create nest burrows on  Chapel Island three years ago.

Update on the fly orchid. Alas, the one I blipped has been trodden on just after the third flower opened; the stem was bent but not broken, so it may survive to open a few more flowers.

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