We visited Blackford pond yesterday and were delighted to see the mute swans have a healthy family, with several cygnets having grown to full size. Here are a couple of my photos of one of the adults with one of the youngsters
There's also a lone adolescent swan, one of last year's youngsters, that was sitting in the grass, yesterday
Someone recently filmed this young swan causing a bit of a stir on the pond (see this tweet!)
The other family is the rat family, in fact there might be two rat families, Crafty Green Boyfriend took this photo
Of course rats are part of nature, but they're a desctructive part of nature and are likely to have eaten eggs and nestlings of some of the ground nesting birds on the pond. They probably live there in such large numbers because people leave too much food around for the birds and the rats eat all the extra bread (which shouldn't be fed to the birds at all) and seeds.
After we had walked round the pond we continued on past Midmar Paddock
through the Hermitage of Braid and into the small park at the edge of the Hermitage
which now is home to a small orchard
the bare soil here will be planted with native wildflowers to encourage pollinators to visit the trees. Just round the corner, the ivy is in bloom and several hoverflies were enjoying the sunshine, including this Eristalis sp.