May Birding Update: Little Grebe, Mute Swans and Mute Swan Chicks!

May Update

Unfortunately the author of these updates has been too busy to spend as much time as he’d like at the Ponds during May, but a couple of visits late in the month did show summer was well underway.

As expected the usual water birds have young, including Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe (pictured below right) and of course Mute Swan

mute swan

mute swan chicks


When photographed there were seven cygnets, this was lower than the number that fledged the nest, but will probably be more than are still going at the end of the summer season. Nature can be harsh, but this is precisely why water birds have such large numbers of young.

Other summering birds present include numerous Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and this year three singing little grebemale Reed Warblers. Only two males Reed Warblers were present last year, but the increase in reed fringes around some of the ponds has done the trick and the Ponds breeding population of this species has increased by 50%.

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With the continuing unseasonably mild weather, along with plenty of wind and rain, it was a quiet month for birds at Lower Bruckland Ponds. In previous years this month has produced some unusual duck species as they are displaced by cold weather from their usual wintering sites (i.e. Pochard, Tufted  Read more »

November Birding Update!

November Birding Update!

It may still be mild, but some of the birds certainly know we are heading towards winter. During this month all five species of wintering thrush have been recorded at the Ponds. Blackbirds and Song Thrush most regularly, along with flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares that often just drop in briefly before moving on, and on the last day of the month two Mistle Thrush that nicely completed the set.

Warbler numbers have dropped as expected, but there are still a couple of Chiffchaffs in the bushes, and on the 11th a Cetti’s Warbler was heard and seen well.

It’s been a very productive month for bird ringing at the Ponds, with 56 birds trapped and ringed. On the first of the month an impressive 27 Long-tailed Tits were ringed (four different flocks), including one showing an unusual pale claw! Also in this session, and three others during the month, highlights included a Treecreeper, a Coal Tit, a Grey Wagtail and biggest of all a Mute Swan!

A small team from Abbotsbury Swannery came over to help with the capture, ringing and inspection of the female Mute Swan of the resident pair. It was hoped both birds would be caught and fitted with uniquely lettered colour-rings so they can be identified as an individual forever, but at the moment it’s one down one to go…

Thanks to Steve for the November birding news — check out photos and more on the Lower Bruckland Facebook page (and please give us a like)!

October Birding at Lower Bruckland

October Birding Update from Steve Waite [Thanks again, Steve!]

Despite the unusually mild start to the autumn, the birds know the season is changing, as do the trees with leaves dropping in some quantity over the last half of the month.

Siskinmale1It’s been a really exciting month for birds, with the first Redwings and Fieldfares of the winter noted, along with a single fly over Brambling on the last day of the month. A couple of Redpolls have been lingering around the area, and for the entire month the alders at the bottom of the Ponds have hosted a beautiful flock of up to 45 Siskin. The flock consists of both the bright yellow males (pictured left), and much browner streaky females, and are often mixed in with Goldfinches that are also feeding high in the alders.

The willows usually contain flocks of feeding Long-tailed Tits, often accompanied by Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and other species of tit. These birds flock up at this time of year, it helps with the feeding but also offers them safety in numbers.

On the water it would appear the parent Mute Swans have chased away their young now, which is far earlier than last season, and Teal and Wigeon have been noted among the Mallards on the top pond. A real surprise on the 12th was this usual duck, identified as a Gadwall x Mallard hybrid (pictured below, the bird with the brown and green head). Not something the observer has ever seen before!


September Birding at Lower Bruckland

The usual thanks go out to Steve for this September birding update — a bit shorter than usual but he assures us he will be around a bit more in the coming months — be seeing you soon then mate!

September Update

swallowI’ll start with some old news, remember the adult female Swallow I caught at the Ponds on 26th June which was already wearing a ring? Well I have heard back from the British Trust for Ornithology with the full details of this bird.

It was ringed as a young bird on 2nd August 2013, when it was caught whilst roosting at Chew Valley Lake which is a large inland water body five miles south of Bristol. Lower Bruckland Ponds is 44 miles from Chew, but this is only half the story. Swallows are migratory birds and spend the winter in South Africa, so in reality between the two occasions this bird has been handled by bird ringers (Aug 2013 and June 2015) it’s probably flown in excess of 16,000 miles! Amaz ing when you consider the bird weighs just 18 grams.

Back to this month, and September is always the month that summer turns into autumn, with many of our summer visitors’ leave and are replaced with birds passing through from further north and Scandinavia. Not all have gone yet, with plenty of Swallows and House Martins still feeding over the Ponds. All across the UK there has been exceptional numbers of Siskins and Coal Tits following influxes from the east, and both these have species have been recorded at the ponds far more frequently than usual. Often the Coal Tits can be found tagged on to the end of one of the many passing Long-tailed Tit flocks, which hopefully will also attract a late autumn rarity within the next month or two.

— Steve Waite