Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mute Swan

Down at my local pond today I was fortunate to see a Great-spotted woodpecker feeding its young in a nest  situated within a tree.

The nest was inside an old tree and the Woodpecker entered the nest through a small circle in the tree. The mother was busy feeding the young in the nest and was in and out the nest continually while the youngsters were crying for more food.

Great-spotted woodpecker takes a dragonfly to feed its young
Great-spotted woodpecker takes a berry to feed its young
Leaving the nest
Taking more food
Next on the menu is a dead moth
Feeding the young

Mute Swan and Cygnets

Meanwhile a male Mute swan was taking two youngsters for a swim in the pond. The female was still sitting on the nest so some more young may be about to appear. The father was very protective of his young and they kept close beside him.

If one of the cygnets got left behind it started squealing.

Mute swan with young
Mute swan with young

On another pond the Coots were feeding their young but unfortunately were too far away to get a photograph of them through the scope.

It had been another great day.


Summertime In Lanarkshire

May is an exciting month for wildlife lovers as it is the time when new things take place. The trees become covered in leaves, flowers appear and the birds start producing and rearing their young. 

Down at my local bird pond the Mute Swan was still sitting on her nest. Hopefully in the next week or so she will be on the pond with her cygnets. The Heron was on its usual post on the pond. 


On the other pond, a Mute Swan was also sitting on her nest but there was no sign of her mate. I will keep an eye on this pond to see if the male re-appears. Hopefully no harm has come to him.

Otter On River Avon

Walking along the banks of the River Avon we stopped to have a look over the river with our binoculars. A ripple could be seen in the water but no birds were in sight. As we looked we could see an otter’s head appear briefly on the surface before disappearing again. Unfortunately we were unable to get a photograph of it.


As we left the path beside the riverbank we heard a screeching noise in some bushes. As we walked over to see what was causing the noise, two small Polecats appeared with one chasing the other. The one in the rear gave up the chase after a short time allowing the one on the front to disappear into some bushes ahead.

Swan Fight

Our next port of call was the large pond with the nesting Whooper Swan. On our previous visits we have only seen the female Swan but today the male was present.

Whooper Swans

What is unusual about these birds is that they migrate to Iceland at the end of March to breed. However, there are a few Whoopers remaining in the area probably due to them being unable to make the long journey to Iceland. 

Male Mute Swan takes to the Water

Over on the other side of the pond, a family of Mute Swans were having a rest on the grass next to the water. The male Swan decided to take to the water (see above photograph) and as he started swimming, it became apparent he was making for the island where the Whooper Swans were living.

“Just going to sort out these Whooper Swans”

After swimming a short distance, the Mute swan started flapping his wings and flew to the island with the Whooper Swans.

Mute Swan (front) chasing the Whooper Swan.

He then started attacking the male Whooper Swan. At one point the pair flew over to where we were standing .The long grass prevented us from seeing what was happening, but it sounded quite a vicious encounter. 

Eventually the Mute Swan flew off and after a few minutes the Whooper Swan’s head popped up from the long grass and he flew back to his island home.

The Mute Swan then attacked him again before being joined by the female Mute Swan and the cygnets.

Female Mute Swan and Cygnets

The Mute Swans then all swam off together, leaving the Whooper swans in peace.

Mute Swan Family

The other birds on the pond were swimming peacefully and not showing any signs of aggression towards the other birds. These included Great Crested grebe, Coot, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese.

It had been an eventful day.

Photographs of Nesting Birds

Recently I visited some of the ponds near where I live to see how the nesting birds were getting along. Most of them were still sitting on nests incubating their eggs, although some Coots and Mute Swans had already hatched their eggs and were swimming in the water.

Mute swan Incubating the eggs

Royal Birds

With reports of Eastern Europeans killing and eating swans in the area, the local people are keeping an eye out for any unusual activity. I have also not given the location of the ponds to try and ensure the birds safety. 

The Queen has a prerogative over all swans in Great Britain. The Swan Keeper also dispatches swans all over the world, sent as gifts in the Queen’s name. 

Nesting Whooper Swan

Nesting Whooper Swan

The nesting Whooper Swan was unusual as Whoopers migrate back to Iceland in the spring to breed. The one above had not made the journey, probably due to injury. There was no sign of the male Whooper Swan on the day we were there. 

At Baron’s Haugh in Motherwell there were some injured Whooper Swans which had not managed to migrate back to Iceland in the spring, so this bird may be one of them.

Greylag Goose

Greylag Goose Nesting

As we were about to pack up observing in one area, I spotted a Greylag Goose nesting in the reeds. She was well hidden and was only spotted by accident. In the picture above she can be seen keeping a close eye on us. 

Coots Nest

Coots Nest

In another pond a Coots nest was in the process of being built. Coots nest on still water to minimize the danger from flooding.

Mute Swan in another pond

In a smaller pond there was only one pair of Mute swans nesting. No other birds could be seen, apart from some Mallard ducks.


The Heron above was seen looking for food, but no nest for it could be seen.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese Nesting

Some Canada geese could be seen nesting on a small island, well away from people. A small boat would be required to get to this nest so it should be safe from humans.

Adult Mute Swans and Cygnets

Family of Mute Swans
Family of Mute Swans
Family of Mute Swans

The first sight we got of Cygnets was at another pond were two adult swans were out and about with their young family. At one point they swam close to where we were standing with the scope on the male started hissing at us. We moved back a bit to be less threatening to the birds. 

Swans are very strong and it is not advisable to go near them when they have young. A Swan can break a person’s arm with its wing if it feels threatened. 

It was quite a dull and wet day and with the light getting worse, we decided to pack up. We had managed to get some good photos of the birds through my scope, which can be seen above.

I am looking forward to seeing how the birds develop over the summer.