• Acton Park – The Birds of The Lake

    This page is intended only to show those birds which are seen in Acton Park.  It will build slowly and enlarge through the seasons as new visitors arrive.  There will be updates about the numerous nesting boxes and young that are born in the park. All photographs of the birds were taken in the park unless otherwise shown.

    The Coot – we have numerous resident Coots on Acton Lake who breed in February or March when their behaviour changes from their winter flocking to become aggressively territorial as the breeding season approaches.

    Coots are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family. They have predominantly black plumage and, unlike many of the rails, they are usually easy to see, often swimming in open water.

    They have white frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead, and coloured bills, and some have white on the under tail.

    The Mallard – One of Acton Park’s most successful ducks with dozens of birds throughout the year – made even more successful by the amount of feeding by park visitors!

    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. It is the commonest duck and eat seeds, acorns and berries, plants, insects and shellfish.

    The Pochard – A single male visitor to Acton Park, resident for the last few months. Not very sociable but seems to enjoy living here. A shy duck who spends most of his time in the middle of the lake.

    They have a bright reddish-brown head, a black breast and tail and a pale grey body. Females are more easily confused with other species; they are brown with a greyish body and pale cheeks. However, when the ducks grow new feathers – the males look similar to the females. They become more camouflaged so that they don’t draw the attention of predators.

    The Grey Heron – A frequent visitor to Acton Park, partliculary in the mornings to feed on fish generously provided by the fishermen and women!

    Grey herons are unmistakeable: tall, with long legs, a long beak and grey, black and white feathering. It is a large bird, standing up to 100 cm (39 in) tall and measuring 84–102 cm (33–40 in) long with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wingspan.They can stand with their neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunched down with their neck bent over their chest. Sometimes, grey herons circle high up into the sky and can be mistaken for large birds of prey.

    The Embden Geese – The most famous residents of Acton Park Lake who have appeared in several newspaper articles. They have been resident on the lake for over 3 years and are always accompanied by their best friend – a Canada Goose!

    The breed is pure white with a short, light orange bill, and orange feet and shanks. They are fast growing birds and will quickly reach about 9 kg (20 lb) for the Goose, and 14 kg (30 lb) for the Gander. The origins of this breed are thought to be from region North Sea, in Holland and Germany.

    The Mute Swans – Probably our most popular and iconic visitors. Swans have bred on the lake several times, most recently in 2010 when 5 of the 6 cygnets grew to maturity. Their most recent visit, in February caused a stir when they had to be rescued by the RSPCA from a local garden having flown into telegraph wires – fortunately there was no damage to the swans or the garden!

    It has a long S-shaped neck, and an orange bill with black at the base of it. Flies with its neck extended and regular slow wingbeats.

    The Mandarin Duck – An infrequent visitor to Acton Park – this is our most colourful visitor. Its last visit was a couple of years ago and caused great excitement amongst the human visitors to the park.

    The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and “whiskers”. The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange “sails” at the back. The female has a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

    The Moorhen – We have several resident Moorhens on Acton Lake who have bred very successfully over the last few years. They spend most of their time on the water but can be seen on the grass in the time leading to the breeding season.

    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. You can see them at any time of year, and any time of day.

    The Great Crested Grebe – on Acton Park Lake this pair of beautiful birds tend to be shy, rarely leaving the lake, spending most of their time near the cover of the island. They have bred successfully here over the last few years.

    Great Crested Grebes dive to feed and also to escape, preferring this to flying. On land they are clumsy because their feet are placed so far back on their bodies. They have an elaborate courtship display in which they rise out of the water and shake their heads. Very young grebes often ride on their parents’ backs.

    The Canada Geese – There are several Canada Geese at Acton Park who visit frequently but we have have one who remains throughout the year and seems to have adopted the pair of Embden Geese as its parents. They are rarely apart either on the lake or on the grass! They make loud ‘cackling’ calls particularly as they come in to land.

    A large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patch. An introduced species from N America, they have successfully spread to cover most of the UK.

    Black-headed Gulls – During the winter and early spring there is a very large population of black-headed gulls at Acton Park probably due to generous feeding by the human population!

    The summer adult has a chocolate-brown head (not black, despite the name), pale grey body, black tips to the primary wing feathers, and red bill and legs. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark vertical streaks. This is a noisy species, especially in colonies, with a familiar “kree-ar” call. Its scientific name means “laughing gull”.