Environment Wildlife Diary
Wildlife Diary: 2006

Gary's Latest Update 4th June 2006

There are three cygnets left and all appear to be enjoying the attention they are getting. One of the remaining ones is darker than the rest, although I don't know why - maybe it'll darken with age.

What Newt



One question I have is what type of newt was this I managed to photograph on one of my visits. Any answers would be appreciated via the wildlife forum on the message boards.





They've Hatched ! 19th May 2006

Newborn swan


The latest photographs from Trust photographer Gary Mason. The wait is over this little cygnet is one of six hatched on Monday (reliable local source) but sadly there's only five survivors.

New family swans


Although they can swim it will be a while before they can fly (120-140 days), while they explore, the cob keeps an eye on all around them making sure nothing comes to close.





A regular visitor. 17th May 2006




Another photograph un-touched by human or other type of hand. One of our regular visitors to the canal in Swindon. There are up to three that hang around trying to catch not just the fish, but I have read that they also have a taste for WATER VOLES (I better watch out).

Maybe they might fancy a nice MINK steak. You have to be patient with these, their eyesight is outstanding. If you are lucky to get close to one get down low (on your belly would be perfect) and watch. You'll be amazed on how still they can be before they strike with deadly precision. On many occasions I've got close and off they go 100 meters down the bank.






It wasn't a one-off !deer pair

A couple of e-mails and a few queries came in about the last picture of a deer - someone even suggested it was a composite photograph and that there aren't any deer along the canal..Well as the expression goes - Have I got news for you !

There are deer across the whole of West Swindon and Wroughton and our photographer (Gary Mason) is so proficient he doesn't need to enter into composite photographs. I have also seen deer, although I've never had my camera with me at the time.

The keen eyed will note the different types of deer photographed along the canal side at Westleaze. So if you have the time, and more importantly the patience, get out yourself and see them ...


Recovery after the flood!

swan 2
Recovery is well underway following the recent flood at Westleaze. The swans can be seen turning over their eggs - so it can't be too long now before there are signets on the canal.




The first batch of Moorhens were also caught in Gary's most recent visit.




A visitor to Kingshill




This little deer turned up today with her mate, I know for certain its not a mountjack (there is a small heard of red deer around this area ). I've seen other deer around here before, one was a young buck got pretty close but the wind changed direction and that was it off he went.

To cap it all ,all the photos I had taken aren't up to my usual standard. That's why no one has seen them. One good bit of news the coots nest that was ruined by the water rise has been taken over by another (hopefully ) family of coots.

The female keeps slapping her feet on the nest base as to flatten it down (just like when you tamper a new floor) I will keep my fingers crossed - Gary Mason



Flood destroys nesting habitats

Gary Mason reports a number of nests and habitats destroyed following the flood at Westleaze. At least four coots nests and their occupants have been wiped out. Unfortunately, at this time there is no evidence of rebuilding.

Hatching in Swindon:

coots may 2006

Gary Mason caught this nest full of Coots at the beginning of May 2006.

Although this is a little late, it could be an early second brood!

This spring has been a good one for nesting birds on the Wilts & Berks in Swindon. So much so, that the repairs to the leak at Westleaze may take longer than anticipated until their nesting period has passed.


swan show


Far from a swan song. Richard Bellamy caught this displaying swan just a few meters away from its mate sitting on a newly constructed nest. For obvious reasons, the exact location is being protected, however the branch are pleased with the prospect of signets in the not too distant future.

swans_nest_0506_300Gary Mason took a long lens shot of the nest while unattended. There are actually four eggs in the nest being well protected by the breeding pair.