One of Cardiff’s greatest joys is heading to Roath Park Lake in late spring to watch the resident birds nesting, and eventually hearing the pitter patter of tiny bird feet! This year I’ve been making more frequent visits to watch what happens and to see who’s going to be calling Roath Park Lake home during the nesting season!
One of the more obvious nests to spot is the Coot’s palatial twig pile. They build large, bulky nests from sticks, which you’ll see them collecting on the build up to nesting season in March time. You’ll often see the males sharing food with the female during the time of incubation as the female is chief incubator, and you’ll also find the male helping out with nest maintenance – you can never have enough twigs!
Around a month later the chicks will start appearing; punky looking little things who will be fed by both of their parents. I loved watching them bob around as their parents chaperoned them between the grouchy geese who they share the lake edge with. They’ll soon start looking more like their parents, but until then, look out for our prickly (in appearance and attitude!) little pals.
I want a goose that’ll lay gold eggs for Easter! Ahem, I digress. One of Roath’s most notorious residents are the geese – always on the look out for an ice cream to chase after. The park is home to both the Greylag Goose, a native breed that has over time become domesticated in our parks and similar areas, and the Canada Goose, an introduced species from North America. You’ll also find Greylag hybrids, where Greylags have bred with domestic geese, often resulting in white splodgy markings (not to be confused with the white markings of the White Fronted Goose).
Greylags and Canada geese are monogamous and partner for life, both incubating their nest for around a month, with their goslings fledging around 2 months later. The parents are rightly fiercely protective of their young, but are often moulting during this time so are unable to fly, which is why you’ll see them running after any potential threats (read: children who have ventured too close at the park!). Contrary to popular belief, Canada Geese are resident in the UK, and do not migrate, so the geese you see here will probably stay here all year round.
And finally the last nest spotted was the Mute Swan, another monogamous bird who builds a large nest of twigs close to the water. The pen (female) builds the nest whilst the cob (male) supplies the materials, the pen will then incubate whilst the cob guards the nest. The wardens of Roath Park often fence off the nests which give the swans space from the weekend crowds – I’m sure the swans appreciate it!
For more posts like this, click here!