Thursday, 6 June 2013

Ticket to ride


Joy enough to see a goosander on the canal in Saltaire, but to see one with a new brood - and to see them hitching a ride on mum's back - was really exciting. This little family created quite a stir as they sailed along, with lots of people trying to capture the scene on their phones and cameras. I didn't have a long enough lens to do a really good, sharp job and they were moving surprisingly fast but this snap isn't too bad.

I first noticed them in the channel beside the mill. When I came back from my walk a couple of hours later they had successfully run swum the gauntlet of the busy stretch beside the church (past the ice-cream boat and its queues of people) and had made it safely as far as Hirst lock. I watched for a while as the mother puzzled over how to get her brood up the fast-flowing side channel beside the lock, which is quite steep and rather like a waterfall. She kept swimming up to the bottom 'step' of the channel, having a good look and then circling round, with the chicks scrambling after her. In the end she clearly decided that a walk along the canal bank, hazardous though that would be, was the only option so she hauled herself and her ten chicks onto the bank. I don't know what happened after that but I do hope they made it to the other side of the locks and back to to the relative safety of the quieter stretch of canal beside Hirst Woods.

Goosanders are members of the sawbill family, with long serrated beaks for catching fish. They are not uncommon on the canal and rivers round here, but I have only ever seen them in the winter. To think that they are breeding locally is thrilling. They are such beautiful birds.

11 comments:

  1. What a fantastic photo. It must be one in a million -- well, a thousand maybe. That is so neat. I wonder if the little ones at the back were also paddling like mad to help Mom keep going.:) :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Until now, I'd never even seen a picture of a Goosander. Well caught!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ho, how cute and lovely!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's amazing! What a good job you had your camera at the ready.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A delightful capture .... it makes my heart sing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a sensational sight and snap. I have never heard of these birds. It must have been exciting to see this. Ten chicks!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Excellent, jennyfreckles. I have never seen baby chicks hitching a ride on their mother's back. It is so very charming.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Isn't that just adorable? Aww...I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks like there's no more room.

    ReplyDelete

No WV here but I've enabled comment moderation on older posts so I don't miss any of your messages. I love reading them - thank you! And thanks for visiting my blog.