Dec 2016/Jan 2017 birding update from Steve Waite

In an unprecedented move, Steve has delivered us a double whammy of birdwatching updates spanning December and January 🙂

As always, his input is much appreciated and do make sure to check out his site at — not only is Steve an expert birder, he’s also a fantastic photographer and it’s well worth a visit!

December 2016 & January 2017 Update

The Tufted Duck from November remained throughout this whole period, and can be seen daily among the Mallard flock on the top pond. The other scarcity from November, the Yellow-browed Warbler, remained until 12th December but hasn’t been seen since. This fits it with other Yellow-browed Warblers in the south west in December, many moved on mid-month in what was probably a weather related movement. There’s also been a Cetti’s Warbler wintering on site, though it is more often heard than seen.

New arrivals during this period include these three Gadwall (two drake and a female) that were briefly alongside the Tufted Duck on 19th January.


Gadwall with Tufted Duck © Steve Waite


There’s been excellent numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares this winter too, with several hundred roosting at the Ponds some nights. Whilst watching these on occasions a Barn Owl could be seen hunting around the Ponds at dusk, with the occasional call of Little Owl from nearby farms.

What’s striking to see is how the family group of Mute Swans has begun to break up, although the female still seems happy to have last year’s babies around, the male is much happier on his own!

MuteSwansLBPsplitup MuteSwanbumLBP

Mute Swans © Steve Waite

September Birding Update: Mute Swans, Yellow-Browed Warblers

As ever, thanks to Steve Waite for the birding round up!


September is always the month when autumn moves on, and it is all change in the bird world. In the first half of the month birds that have spent the summer in the UK leave for their winter haunts, South Africa in most cases. But from mid-month most of these birds have left, and now autumn migration is about birds that arrive in to or pass through the UK from other countries. A lot of our autumn and winter birds come from Scandinavia or further east (i.e. Russia), or from the true north – the Arctic.

mute swan in the mist
Mute Swan in the mist © Steve Waite

This has been reflected at the Ponds, the Willow Warblers that were present at the start of the month have all gone and been replaced by Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests.  Only the occasional Swallow and House Martin can now be seen over the Ponds, far from the large flocks present at the start of September. It won’t be long until the sky is full of the calls of Fieldfare and Redwing too.

Sadly we have one less juvenile Mute Swan, but if they manage to get the remaining six off then it will still be a good year for them. That’s six more Mute Swans in the world!

Hopefully increased mist netting efforts at the Ponds over the next few months will reveal the presence of a scarce bird or two. A record number of Yellow-browed Warblers have already been reported on the east coast of the UK and these will filter down through the country of the next month, one of these would be much appreciated by the author of these posts!

A sunny autumn morning at Lower Bruckland Ponds
A sunny autumn morning at Lower Bruckland Ponds © Steve Waite

July Birding Update: Mute Swan family & Tufted Ducks

Thanks to Steve for another great update, do check out his blog for more of his expertise and excellent photos!

First of all, last month’s three Tufted Ducks remained for the first week of the month. This specie of duck is usually seen here during the winter months, so to see them surrounded by young Moorhen, Coot and Little Grebe was quite unusual!  Really pleased to also report the seven cygnets continue to grow well, and are now past their most venerable phase.

Mute Swan family
Mute Swan family © Steve Waite

Towards the end of the month the first evidence of south bound passerine migration could be seen, with a couple of young Willow Warblers in with the local Long-tailed Tit flock. This is very exciting news as it means the flood gates will soon open as the warblers and other summer migrants head off back to South Africa for the winter, and you never quite know what is going to pass through next.

With the arrival of some proper summer weather during this month, it was refreshing to see excellent numbers of butterflies and dragonflies around, including the first Small Red-eyed Damselflies of the year and the last Scarce Chasers of the summer – both rare species that can be found at the Ponds.

image02 image01Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Scarce Chaser © Steve Waite

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%.

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!