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 (2)

In 1972 Richard Mabey wrote a book called “Food for Free” which was published by Collins. This book has proved so popular it is still in print and Collins also have produced a pocket sized “gem” edition.

Edible Plants

Living in Lanarkshire, the damp conditions beside the Rivers Avon and Clyde provide an excellent environment for many of the plants mentioned in the above book. I have tried some of the recipes in the book including:

  • wild garlic leaves in salads 
  • heather tea 
  • dandelion leaf salad 
  • dandelion root coffee 
  • comfrey leaf salad
  • cooked chickweed
Wild Garlic
Wild Garlic

Many of the flowers can also be found in many gardens so it is not always essential to walk miles to get free food. Although Richard Mabey includes a chapter on fungi, I have not tried to eat any unless bought from a shop.


Summer is also when the birds rear their young. On the River Clyde a female Goosander was on the water with her youngsters. When she saw us she swam to the other side of the river with her goslings.

Goosander and Goslings

The Goosander was quite far away and we only had a compact camera, but we managed to get a blurry photograph. It was quite a cold day despite it being at the end of May and the goslings tucked themselves under mum’s feathers to keep warm.

Greylag Geese

A pair of adult Greylag Geese were also on the water with their youngsters and were not afraid of the people walking about.

Mallard Ducks and Ducklings

Yes, summertime is a great time for those who love wildlife.

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.