Birds are very important to the British countryside as they play several very important ecological roles and so their conservation is essential. They are among the most numerous life forms on the planet, occupying almost every type of habitat. Depending on the habitat they are in, bird species can play numerous key roles and contribute to the maintenance of ecosystems.
The sanctuary zone at the wetlands is right at the end of the reserve. This area is purposefully set away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the site. It is a reserve for many different types of bird, including mute swans, lapwing and owls. There are often many different species here at the same time.
This area allows you to stay hidden in our hide, so that you can watch our open water bird species without them seeing you. Many different types of bird are attracted to water bodies like this one. Some are drawn here to feed on the plants, some to nest in the surrounding area and some to predate on the other animals.
It might seem like birds have disappeared in the summer as they stop singing to attract a mate and focus on the survival of their chicks before they fly the nest. A young blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) may need to eat as many as 100 caterpillars each day. A blue tit family may contain 10 chicks which means they need 1,000 caterpillars every day!
There is a lot of water in The Wetlands but birds can struggle to find water to drink in the summer so placing a container or a bird bath outside can be a life saver. It is important to clean and change the water if it gets murky or algae starts to grow.
If you are affected by a hosepipe ban this summer why not place a water butt in your garden? Like the pond s in The Wetlands, a water butt will store water from the winter and spring and be available in the summer.
Seen any scruffy birds in The Wetlands or at home? Birds replace their feathers in the summer, a bit like buying a new coat in time for the autumn winds and rain. An important difference is that the birds need to grow their new feathers so it is another reason to ensure that birds have food in the summer months. In The Wetlands the hedgerows and grasslands will be full of tasty insects for the birds.
And some birds will start a second nest. Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) are known for having ducklings at odd times of year, so don't be surprised if you see some in The Wetlands in late summer!
This is not a complete list but some of the birds you might see here include:
Little grebe, tachybaptus ruficollis - this chestnut brown bird likes shallow waters for breeding, swimming out to deeper areas to dive for its food, usually insect larvae, amphibian larvae and insects. It can often be seen swimming rapidly to and fro. Listen for a long, vibrating trill or a high pitched 'bi-ib'.
Tufted duck, aythya fuligula - the males of this bird have distinctive black-and-white plumage. They can often be seen out on the open water diving for their food such as molluscs, which they pluck from submerged vegetation. Listen for a guttural 'gee-gee-gee' call from the males.
Lapwing, vanellus vanellus - this is a very distinctive bird, both on the ground and in flight. It has a long crest rising from the back of its head and long blunt-ended wings that are larger and more rounded in males. Listen for a whiny 'peewee' or 'kee-vit'
Coot, fulica atra - a black, dumpy bird with a white bill and frontal shield. They are often seen congregating in large numbers, but can be fiercely territorial, engaging in foot-to-foot and beak-to-beak combat. Listen for their high-pitched 'klak' alarm call.
Snipe gallinago gallinago - this is a medium-sized wader that is superbly camouflaged by brown, black and yellow markings. Most often seen at the edges of the pools standing very still. Listen for a 'tik' call and a strange 'gargling moo' used in courtship that is made.