In Devon everything in the countryside takes on the colour of the soil; and that colour is often red. The Devonian red sandstone here colours everything. The wind-blown red desert sand which formed these rocks has kept its colour over hundreds of millions of years. When I last visited Paignton Zoo the animals were coated in it. There were naturally Pink Flamingoes with their feet in muddy red Devon pools rather than beautiful blue lagoons. Even the Zebras had pink and black stripes.
Today, on Exminster Marshes near Exeter the Mute Swans have red heads:
It’s a ginger swan.
The Swan’s nest - I’m walking through a narrow walkway in the reeds, looking for Reed Warbler’s nests, when I come across a Swan-made clearing in the centre of the reeds. It’s an enormous pile of reed stems to keep the eggs and chicks out of the river at the highest of high tides … Waterbed - Have you ever tried making love on a waterbed? Ask a swan what it’s like. Archimedes could have predicted the outcome; you are far less buoyant with a swan on your back. The male has to get a move on or his long-term mate will drown. He has to grab … There are no words - If you ask this swan what species it is, it won’t tell you. It’s Mute. The river walk - Here are a few familiar faces from my social distancing walk. This Mute Swan is one of the aggressive pair which have eggs to incubate. I’m looking forward to following their journey. There’s a sleek Magpie, one of a pair which have built a couple of nests, the first in … A grey day on the Teign - I’m out with my son in the early morning. He has a camera too and takes a photo of me. As we walk along the River Teign I spot a Cormorant approaching. It doesn’t see me until the last moment and veers wildly to avoid me: There’s an Oystercatcher in … Flotilla - It’s a beautiful, placid scene. It’s gorgeous light on the River Teign as I spot a Mute Swan flying and then landing in the distance on the river. That may be a problem. There’s a resident pair of Mute Swans here. Their nest is just next to the old railway … Return to Daisy Nook - In a time before the lockdown I visited Daisy Nook Country Park. It’s in Failsworth, which is a great place to have the local Driving Test Centre. It’s 40 acres of varied dog-walking space. In an hour, here are the species I found: European Nuthatch, Sitta europaea: Across the canal … Bird portraits at Stover Country Park - It’s cold and I fancy a walk. There are Black Headed Gulls at Stover Country Park. I love the way their toes dangle. The male Blackbird has a bright yellow beak in the low sunshine: A Robin sits in the shade: There are Cormorants perched on the top of a … Swans’ ankles - There’s a Mute Swan upending itself on the lake. It’s giving me clear views of its ankles, or ‘backwards knees’ as many people see them. I love the black dinosaur scales on their feet and that strange back toe marooned half-way up the foot. I want to watch them and …