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Birds at Wetlands

Many species of birds reside and visit Wetlands. Here are just a few that have been spotted.

Moorhen

The moorhen is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling bird, that is usually found near water. From a distance it looks black with a ragged white line along its body. Up close it is olive-brown on the back and the head and underneath are blue-grey. It has a red bill with a yellow tip. It breeds in the UK in lowland areas, especially in central and eastern England. It is scarce in northern Scotland and the uplands of Wales and northern England. UK breeding birds are residents and seldom travel far.

There's a chance of seeing a moorhen anywhere where there is water - from a small ditch or a lake in a city centre park, to a big lake or reservoir.

They feed on water plants, seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, snails and worms.

moorhen

Cormorant

A large and conspicuous waterbird, the cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear almost 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 and with its breeding concentrations at a few sites it is an Amber List species.

Found around the UK coastline on rocky shores, coastal lagoons and estuaries, it is increasingly being seen inland at reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits.

Their diet is Fish.

cormorant

Coot

All-black and larger than its cousin, the moorhen, it 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 instead of webs when swimming. It patters noisily over the water before taking off and can be very aggressive towards others.

They can be seen on freshwater lakes, gravel pits, reservoirs, rivers and town park lakes when deep enough. Sometimes seen offshore, especially in winter if freshwater areas are frozen.

They eat vegetation, snails and insect larvae.

Coot

Oyster Catchers

The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight, it shows a wide white wing-stripe, a black tail, and a white rump that extends as a 'V' between the wings. Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited. Breeds on almost all UK coasts; over the last 50 years, more birds have started breeding inland. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast; where they are joined on the east coast by birds from Norway.

Possible to see on almost all coasts of the UK. Look for breeding birds in summer at RSPB coastal reserves. In winter, you can see large numbers on major estuaries, such as Morecambe Bay.

With a diet of Mussels and cockles on the coast; mainly worms inland.

oyster catcher

Mallard

The mallard is a large and heavy looking duck. It has a long body and a long and broad bill. The male has a dark green head, a yellow bill, is mainly purple-brown on the breast and grey on the body. The female is mainly brown with an orange bill. It breeds in all parts of the UK in summer and winter, wherever there are suitable wetland habitats, although it is scarcer in upland areas. Mallards in the UK may be resident breeders or migrants - many of the birds that breed in Iceland and northern Europe spend the winter here.

It is the most common duck and very widespread so you have a chance of seeing it just about anywhere where there is suitable wetland habitat, even in urban areas.

They feed on seeds, acorns and berries, plants, insects and shellfish.

Mallard

Teal

Teals are small dabbling ducks. Males have chestnut coloured heads with broad green eye-patches, a spotted chest, grey flanks and a black edged yellow tail. Females are mottled brown. Both show bright green wing patches (speculum) in flight. They are thinly distributed as a breeding species with a preference for northern moors and mires. In winter birds congregate in low-lying wetlands in the south and west of the UK. Of these, many are continental birds from around the Baltic and Siberia. At this time, the UK is home to a significant percentage of the NW European wintering population making it an Amber List species.

Best looked for in good numbers in winter on wetlands, both coastal and inland. Particularly important sites include the Somerset Levels and the Mersey Estuary.

They eat seeds and small invertebrates.

teal

Blue tit

Its colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green make the blue tit one of the most attractive resident garden birds. Almost any garden with a peanut feeder will attract them and they readily breed in nestboxes. In winter they form flocks with other tit species and a garden with four or five at a bird table at any one time, may be feeding 20 or more.

A common woodland and garden bird, also seen along hedgerows and in most places with trees and bushes.

Diet of Insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts.

blue tit

Common Gull

It looks like a small, gentler version of the herring gull, with greenish legs and a yellow bill. Despite its name, it is not at all common in some inland areas, though often abundant on the coast and in some eastern counties. They are now seen more often in towns and on housing estates in winter.

In summer look along coasts and inland marshes and lakes of Scotland, N Ireland and N England. Elsewhere in England and Wales seen in winter on farmland, near lakes and marshes and on the coast.

Feeding on worms, insects, fish, carrion and rubbish.

Sea Gulls

Common Tern

These delightful silvery-grey and white birds have long tails which have earned them the nickname 'sea-swallow'. They have a buoyant, graceful flight and frequently hover over water before plunging down for a fish. They are often noisy in company and breed in colonies.

Breeds along coasts with shingle beaches and rocky islands, on rivers with shingle bars, and at inland gravel pits and reservoirs, feeding along rivers and over freshwater. Migrating birds can be seen offshore in autumn.

They eat Fish

tern

Magpie

Magpies seem to be jacks of all trades - scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers, their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. 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. Non-breeding birds will gather together in flocks.

Found across England, Wales and N Ireland, but more localised in Scotland, absent from the Highlands. Seen in a range of habitats from lowland farmland to upland moors.

Omnivore (means they eat both animal and plants) also scavenger.

magpie

Stock Dove

Stock doves are similar in plumage and size to rock doves/feral pigeons. They are largely blue-grey with an attractive iridescent bottle green band on the back of the neck. In flight they show black edges to the wing and two partial black bands near their back. Unlike rock doves/feral pigeons they do not have pale rumps. They are widely distributed in the UK, except for parts of northern Scotland and Ireland, with particularly high densities in the English Midlands and South West. Over half their European population is found in the UK.

Across the UK. In the breeding season, look in parkland, along woodland edges, and by quarries and cliffs. In winter, look for small flocks feeding on farmland stubbles.

Diet of seeds.

Stock Dove

Woodpigeon

The UK's largest and commonest pigeon, it is largely grey with a white neck patch and white wing patches, clearly visible in flight. Although shy in the countryside it can be tame and approachable in towns and cities. Its cooing call is a familiar sound in woodlands as is the loud clatter of its wings when it flies away.

Found across the UK in fields and woods, and also in towns and cities where they frequent parks and gardens.

They eat crops like cabbages, sprouts, peas and grain. Also buds, shoots, seeds, nuts and berries.

Wood Pidgeon

Tufted Duck

The tufted duck is a medium-sized diving duck, smaller than a mallard. It is black on the head, neck, breast and back and white on the sides. It has a small crest and a yellow eye. In flight it shows an obvious white stripe across the back of the wing. It breeds in the UK across lowland areas of England, Scotland and Ireland, but less commonly in Wales, with most birds being residents. Numbers increase in the UK in winter because of birds moving to the UK from Iceland and northern Europe.

Found across the UK at most times of year. Look in suitable habitat such as a local reservoir, gravel pit or lake.

They eat molluscs, insects and some plants.

Tufted Duck
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