Wildlife - Birds
We are very lucky to have a wide range of over 40 species of bird visitors. The surface of the pond and the rafts are host to large numbers of water birds; mainly gulls, coots, cormorants and ducks. Black-headed gulls dominate, but all the British species of gull can be seen at times with occasional visits from Mediterranean gulls.
Most of the ducks are mallards, which breed on the pond, with tufted ducks and red-breasted mergansers as regular winter visitors and the occasional smew, goldeneye, pochard, shoveller duck and Canada goose.
Coots breed on the rafts and moorhen breed in Dolphin Creek. Dabchicks (Little Grebe) are mainly seen in winter. Of the birds which can be seen in the air, kingfishers regularly add a special element of colour.
Mute swans breed frequently on Peter Pond and can be seen during summer and autumn with their cygnets. Heron and little egrets can be seen standing in the shallows. Reed warblers are audible during summer in the reed-beds.
A pair of Great Black-Backed Gulls has been nesting on the centre raft since 2012, producing 2-3 chicks a year. This has caused great concern as they are predators at the head of the food chain and are held responsible for the decline in the overall sea bird population. After discussion at the AGM that year we agreed to attempt to deter them by installing wires and canes on the rafts, but this has been unsuccessful for 3 years now; we are unable to do any more without violating the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Sadly the presence of these birds has reduced the number of other birds visiting the pond.
A full list of regular birds and occasional/rare sightings can be found below. For more information on each bird, we recommend visiting the RSPB.org.uk website - bird guide section and Brian Fellows' website.
Regular Visitors (16)
Black-headed Gull - all year. Up to 2000 in winter
Common Gull - winter - up to 50
Common Tern - summer
Coot - Up to 90 in winter - 3 pairs nest
Cormorant - winter - up to 13
Great Black-backed Gull - winter - nesting since April 2012
Herring Gull - winter - up to 50
Kingfisher - mainly winter
Lesser Black-backed Gull - winter
Little Egret - Up to 2
Little Grebe - Winter - Up to 4
Mallard - Up to 50 - Occasionally nesting
Moorhen - Nest in Dolphin Lake
Mute Swan - Pairs occasionally nest
Reed Warbler - summer
Swallow - summer
SMPPA Notelets (above) - taken from a painting by Marion Foster - illustrate the variety of birds that have been seen on our pond (notelets available for purchase - see our publications page)
Cormorants on one of the Rafts
Occasional Visitors (30)
Great Crested Grebe - winter
Great Northern Diver
Mediterranean Gull - winter
Red-breasted Merganser - winter
Sandwich Tern - summer
Tufted Duck - winter