Bird Spotting

This is a page under construction: a living article, and things will be added as they become available.

Listed are all the birds that we’re aware of in the park, if you know of any additional ones please let us have details.

We haven’t started on the geese/ducks on the lake yet – so many other birds to log!

BLACK SWAN  

Photo Paul Bettison

 

Photo: Brian Irvine

Black Swans are mostly black-feathered birds, with white flight feathers. The bill is bright red, with a pale bar and tip; and legs and feet are greyish-black. Cobs (males) are slightly larger than pens (females), with a longer and straighter bill. Cygnets (immature birds) are a greyish-brown with pale-edged feathers.

Photo: Brian Irvine

Black Swans are native to Australia and are the state bird of Western Australia. They were brought to the UK as ornamental birds like peacocks and golden pheasants. Like many other captive birds, they occasionally find their way out into the wild.

Ever since the inception of FoSP there have been Black Swans on the lake, hence they form the basis of our logo. At one point there were 5 adults who produced cygnets every year. 

Unfortunately over time we had 5 adults killed by dogs not on leads. One juvenile cygnet had to be removed to a sanctuary for its own safety – the parents were trying to kill it as they’d had another clutch. Another tiny cygnet was also removed to a sanctuary as its parents had abandoned it and it was going to die.

By 2019 there was only one adult left. White Swans had tried several times to take up residence without success – the Black Swan always won the ‘battle in the air’.

The Blue Green Algae and Avian Botulism problem that surfaced on the lake in 2018 saw the last swan off – s/he moved on before they could succumb to the disease as the geese and ducks were dying in great numbers. There haven’t been any swans on the lake since then (to date: 2020).

 

Robin

Wherever our volunteers are gardening, there’s sure to be a Robin nearby keeping an eye on things and no doubt looking for a tasty morsel.                                             

Photo: Wendy Barclay

The European  Robin, known simply as the Robin or Robin Redbreast in the British Isles, is a small insectivorous passerine bird, specifically a chat, that was formerly classified as a member of the thrush family but is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher. (Wikipedia).

With a bright orange-red breast, brown back & dumpy shape, Robins are familiar garden birds. They are one of only a few garden birds to sing throughout winter.

 

House Sparrow

House Sparrows are finch-like birds. They have stout bodies, rounded wings and broad heads, with deep, conical bills adapted for seed-eating.

It is a familiar, streaky brown bird of towns, parks and gardens. Males sport a grey cap and black bib, the size of which indicates their status.

 

Blackcap

The Blackcap is a distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female a chestnut one.

Its fluting song has earned it the name ‘northern nightingale’. Although primarily a summer visitor birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

Garden Warbler

A very plain warbler with no distinguishing features (a feature in itself!).

It spends a lot of its time in the cover of trees and bushes and can be more difficult to see than its relative, the Blackcap. Despite its name it is not really a garden bird, except in mature gardens next to woods. Its song is similar to that of a Blackcap, but has longer mellow phrases. They eat insects and berries. 

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

Shelduck

This is a big, colourful duck, bigger than a mallard but smaller than a goose.

Both sexes have a dark green head and neck, a chestnut belly stripe and a red bill. They eat invertebrates, small shellfish and aquatic snails.

They are only infrequent visitors to the park but often stay quite a while.

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

Mandarin

The Mandarin Duck was introduced from the Far East, where it can still be found in China, Japan, Korea and parts of Russia. It escaped, or was deliberately released, from captivity in the UK.
 

Mandarin ducks are actually quite shy birds, often hiding beneath overhanging willows and usually only forming small flocks.

A beautiful, unmistakable duck: male Mandarins have elaborate plumage with orange plumes on their cheeks, orange ‘sails’ on their back, and pale orange sides; females are dull in comparison, with grey heads, brown backs and white eye-stripe.

They stayed in the park for a couple of years, left, and return periodically.

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

Blue Tit

A colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green makes the Blue Tit one of our most attractive and most recognisable garden visitors.

In winter, family flocks join up with other tits as they search for food. A garden with four or five blue tits at a feeder at any one time may be feeding 20 or more.
They eat Insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts.

 

Great Tit

The largest UK Tit, it is green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song.

It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a bird table, fighting off smaller tits. In winter it joins with blue tits and others to form roaming flocks which scour gardens and countryside for food.
They eat insects, seeds and nuts.

 

Coot

All-black and larger than its cousin, the Moorhen, the Coot has a distinctive white beak and ‘shield’ above the beak which earns it the title ‘bald’.

Its feet have distinctive lobed flaps of skin on the toes which act in the same way as webbed feet when swimming. It patters noisily over the water before taking off and can be very aggressive towards others. They eat  vegetation, seeds, snails and insect larvae.

 

Magpie

With its noisy chattering, black-and-white plumage and long tail, there is nothing else quite like the Magpie in the UK.

When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers and a green gloss to the tail.

Magpies seem to be jacks of all trades – scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers, their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. Non-breeding birds will gather together in flocks. They are omnivores (an animal or person that eats a variety of food of both plant and animal origin) and scavengers.

 

Coal Tit

Not as colourful as some of its relatives, the Coal Tit has a distinctive grey back, black cap, and white patch at the back of its neck.

Its smaller, more slender bill than blue or great tits means it can feed more successfully in conifers. A regular visitor to most feeders, they will take and store food for eating later.

In winter they join with other tits to form flocks which roam through woodlands and gardens in search of food. They eat insects, seeds and nuts.

 

Song Thrush

A familiar and popular garden songbird whose numbers have declined markedly on farmland and in towns and cities.

It’s smaller and browner than a Mistle thrush with smaller spotting. Its habit of repeating song phrases distinguish it from singing blackbirds. It likes to eat snails which it breaks into by smashing them against a stone with a flick of the head. They eat worms, snails and fruit.

 

Cormorant

A large and conspicuous waterbird, the Cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear reptilian.

It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry. Regarded by some as black, sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers which can bring them into conflict with anglers and they have been persecuted in the past. The UK holds internationally important wintering numbers.

Photo: Tracy Evans-Phillips

 

Chaffinch

The Chaffinch is one of the most widespread and abundant bird in Britain and Ireland.

Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes most obvious when it flies, revealing a flash of white on the wings and white outer tail feathers. It does not feed openly on bird feeders – it prefers to hop about under the bird table or under the hedge. You’ll usually hear chaffinches before you see them, with their loud song and varied calls. They eat insects and seeds.

 

Pied wagtail

The Pied Wagtail is a delightful small, long-tailed and rather sprightly black and white bird.

When not standing and frantically wagging its tail up and down it can be seen dashing about over lawns or car parks in search of food.

It frequently calls when in its undulating flight and often gathers at dusk to form large roosts in city centres. They eat insects.

 

Collared Dove

Collared Doves are a pale, pinky-brown grey colour, with a distinctive black neck collar (as the name suggests). They have deep red eyes and reddish feet.

They have a  monotonous cooing. Although you’ll often see them on their own or in pairs, flocks may form where there is a lot of food available. They eat seeds, grains, buds and shoots.

 

Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is a highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch.

Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting bird tables and feeders. In winter many UK goldfinches migrate as far south as Spain. They eat seeds and insects in summer.

 

Grey Wagtail

The Grey Wagtail is a common bird of fast-flowing rivers and can be found in high densities in the hills of England, Scotland and Wales. In winter, they move to lowland areas and can be spotted in farmyards and even in towns.

It is more colourful than its name suggests with slate grey upper parts and distinctive lemon yellow under-tail.

Photo: Gary ThatFoto
Photo: Gary ThatFoto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingfisher

Kingfishers are small unmistakable bright blue and orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly, low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water’s surface. They are vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses.

Photo: Scott Holland

 

Kingfishers are amber listed because of their unfavourable
conservation status in Europe. They are also listed as a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act offering them additional protection. They eat fish and aquatic insects.

 

Mistle Thrush

The Mistle Thrush is is a pale, black-spotted thrush – large, aggressive and powerful. It stands boldly upright and bounds across the ground. In flight, it has long wings and its tail has whitish edges

Photo: Brian Irvine

It is most likely to be noticed perched high at the top of a tree, singing its fluty song or giving its rattling call in flight.
They eat worms, slugs, insects and berries.

 

Moorhen

Photo: Brian Irvine

Moorhens are blackish with a red and yellow beak and long, green legs. Seen closer-up, they have a dark brown back and wings and a more bluish-black belly, with white stripes on the flanks. 

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

Sometimes called marsh hens, they are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family.  They are close relatives of coots
They eat water plants, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails, worms and small fish.

 

Blackbird

The common Blackbird is a species of true thrush. It is also called the Eurasian blackbird, or simply the blackbird. It breeds in Europe, Asiatic Russia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand.

While male blackbirds live up to their name,  females are actually brown, often with spots and streaks on their breasts.

 

Heron

Grey herons are tall, with long legs, a long beak and grey, black and white feathering. They can stand with their neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunched down with their neck bent over their chest.

Photo: Derrick Bewell

 

They eat lots of fish, but also small birds such as ducklings, small mammals like voles and amphibians. After harvesting, grey herons can sometimes be seen in fields, looking for rodents.

 

Redwing

The Redwing is most commonly encountered as a winter bird and is the UK’s smallest true thrush. Its creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank patches make it distinctive.

They roam across the UK’s countryside, feeding in fields and hedgerows, rarely visiting gardens, except in the coldest weather when snow covers the fields. Only a few pairs nest in the UK. It is listed as a Schedule 1 species of The Wildlife and Countryside Act. 

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

The first redwings reach the UK in October. They spend the autumn in hedges and orchards, where they feed on fruit and berries. As winter draws on, and the fruit is used up, they move onto open areas in search of earthworms. 

 

In spring they leave the UK for their northern breeding territories, where they nest low down in boggy woodland and birch forest. Many redwings that spent the winter in Spain and southern Europe also stop off in eastern England to refuel as they head back north.

 

Great Spotted Woodpecker

About blackbird-sized and striking black-and-white. It has a very distinctive bouncing flight and spends most of its time clinging to tree trunks and branches, often trying to hide on the side away from the observer. Its presence is often announced by its loud call or by its distinctive spring ‘drumming’ display.

The male has a distinctive red patch on the back of the head and young birds have a red crown. They eat insects, seeds and nuts.

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

Wren

The Wren is a tiny brown bird. It is dumpy, almost rounded, with a fine bill, quite long legs and toes, very short round wings and a short, narrow tail which is sometimes cocked up vertically. 

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

It is the most common UK breeding bird, although it suffers declines during prolonged, severely cold winters. Wrens explore shady, overgrown places on or near the ground, for small insects and spiders. They are well known for their unusually loud, vibrant songs. Males make several nests, from which the female chooses one in which to lay her eggs. 

 

Green Woodpecker

The Green Woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain.

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

It has a heavy-looking body, short tail and a strong, long bill. It is green on its upperparts with a paler belly, bright yellow rump and red on the top of its head. The black ‘moustache’ has a red centre in males. They have an undulating flight and a loud, laughing call. 

They eat ants, ants, and more ants. They use their strong beak to dig into ant colonies and eat the inhabitants.

 

Tree Creeper

The Tree Creeper is small, very active, bird that lives in trees. It has a long, slender, down-curved bill.  They are mottled brown above, white or whitish beneath, and have stiff tails, used in the manner of woodpeckers’ as support when climbing, and large feet with sharp, arched claws.

Photo: Brian Irvine

Their bills are curved and sharp, for extracting insect food and seeds from crevices in tree bark.

It breeds in the UK and is resident here. Birds leave their breeding territories in autumn but most range no further than 20 km. 

 

Nuthatch

The Nuthatch is a plump bird about the size of a Great Tit that resembles a small woodpecker but more agile, perching up on their feet with bodies and tails held well clear. They can descend head-first and hang upside down beneath twigs and branches.

Photo: Brian Irvine

 

 

It is blue-grey above and whitish below, with chestnut on its sides and under its tail. It has a black stripe on its head, a long black pointed bill and short legs.

It is a woodland bird, always associated with trees or tall bushes. It has the unique habit in the UK of plastering mud around the entrance to its nest hole.
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