If you only visit the Broads once a year this is the time to come. The waterways are full of birdlife busily rearing their adorable young in the sunshine.
There are two families of adorable little cygnets delighting boaters alongside scores of ducklings and families of greylag, Canada and Egyptian geese goslings in Wroxham village.
Perhaps our favourite place to spot young birds at the moment is Salhouse Broad. There are at least three families of great crested grebes carrying their adorable little ‘greblets’, which have black and white stripy faces, around on their backs. Other than looking super cute this protects their young from predators such as pike grabbing them in the water.
Two more great crested grebes are still incubating their eggs on floating rafts near the downstream entrance to the Broad, so we are eagerly awaiting more new arrivals!
The reason that these birds are still nesting is that they had their initial nests destroyed. Undeterred they built another floating raft for their eggs and things are going well this time!
Another bird that builds floating nests is the coot and we are enjoying spotting their cootlings with fluffy bodies and brightly coloured beaks.
Better still we have been enjoying regular kingfisher sightings in the area, not only as an electric blue flash as the birds fly fast and low over the water, but also perching on branches where passengers can get a good look at them. On several occasions there have been two kingfishers perching together on a branch and diving into the water to catch fish.
Passengers are loving spotting otters on a regular basis and we have had some amazing encounters with them recently. Skipper Tom and his passengers were captivated by watching an otter carrying a huge pike in its mouth recently “the pike was almost as big as the otter!” he said.
But perhaps the biggest surprise came when a very large dog otter slid out of the water and stood behind crew member Donna, while over 100 people were boarding the Queen of the Broads. Skipper Oli said: “I looked up the pontoon where Donna was boarding customers and was amazed to see a huge otter stood right behind her. Donna was completely unaware of the otter, like the classic scene from a pantomime and when I shouted ‘its behind you’ she jumped out of skin!”. It really shows how confident otters are becoming even with lots of people about.
Another welcome visitor to the Broads is common terns, who have been migrating in from Africa for the last few weeks. More than 20 pairs of the terns are laying their eggs on a special floating platform filled with sand on Hoveton Great Broad. We are loving spotting the birds fishing on nearby Salhouse Broad where they perform amazing aerial acrobatics before dive bombing into the water to catch their lunch.
Finally, we will leave you with this rather amusing Broadland picture of duckling being raised as part of a greylag goose family at Irstead Staithe (near Barton Broad).
Marilyn who lives near the staithe and took the picture explained “A pair of greylag geese have been raising a little duckling alongside their goslings for the last couple of weeks. It’s really cute and the mother goose seems quite unaware that the duckling isn’t one of her own goslings despite the size difference!”
The picture certainly deserves a good caption. Skipper Tom suggested “What the duck!”. If you have any better ideas we would love to hear them! (Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org)