Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve


The following Water Birdlife are regular visitors to the lake:

Ducks
Mallard
Aylesbury
Mandarin
Wood Duck
Shelduck
Tufted Duck
Geese
Canada Goose
Egyptian Goose
Greylag Goose
Sea Birds
Cormorant
Common Gull
Black Headed Gull
Common tern
Others
Swan
Coot
Moorhen
Great Crested Grebe
Kingfisher
Grey Heron
Grey Wagtail





Male Mallard Female Mallard Mallard ducks are common wild ducks that live in Northern Hemisphere wetlands. Most domestic ducks were bred from mallards. The female is called a hen, the male is called a drake and the young are called ducklings. The males are brightly colored, having a green head, a white collar and a bright yellow bill. The females are mottled brown with a brown bill. They are about 20-23 inches (51-59 cm) long.
Aylesbury Duck The Aylesbury Duck is distinguished by its pure white plumage, bright orange feet and legs, and flesh-coloured bill. The pure white ducks with a distinctive shape are most famous because they are considered to be the tastiest duckling in the country.
coot The Coot is a black water-bird, a little bit smaller than a duck. It has a rounded head, with a bright white forehead and beak. It has dark red eyes, and a rounded body. They are buoyant swimmers and frequent divers. They take off from the water by running along the surface, beating the water with their wings and pattering with their feet.
Moorhen Moorhens look a bit like coots, but they are a bit smaller, have red foreheads and beaks (tipped with yellow) and their bodies are not rounded. Moorhens also have a white line running down each side of their bodies. They swim with rhythmical head movements and frantic tail-twitching showing off their snow-white undertail coverts.
Male Mandarin Female Mandarin The Mandarin is the most colourful duck on the lake. The male is unmistakable with its striking plumage and erect orange "sail". The females are more somberly coloured with a white eye-ring extending back to the neck. They are originally from Eastern Asia but are now quite well naturalised and are self-sustaining. They have been known to nest in the thick undergrowth but tend to nest mainly in the trees overhanging the water on the larger island. Once hatched the young jump (or are they pushed?) out of the nest and fall into the water unharmed.
Male Wood Female Wood The Wood Duck is originally from America. The male Wood Ducks are most easily identified by their smooth, iridescent green crest and crown and their purple face. Their throat is white and two white markings extend up onto the neck and face. The bill slopes downward and the end of the tail is square. The female is less colourful and is mainly brown, with a slight iridescence on the crown. Her crest is shorter. She is most easily identified by a distinctive teardrop-shaped, white eye patch.
The Shelduck is one of the most attractive of our waterfowl. During the year they need to renew their wing and tail feathers simultaneously so for about four weeks they are unable to fly. They have a red beak, glossy green-black head, white body, a prominent chestnut-brown breast band and a black go-faster stripe down their body.
Tufted Duck The Tufted Duck is named because of the tuft on the back of it's head. It is a diving duck and is recognizable by it's dark back and it has white at the base of the bill.
Swan Mute Swans are the largest and are generally considered to be the most beautiful of the waterfowl. A male is known as a cob, a female is a pen and the young are called cygnets. Mute Swans have been known to live for over 25 years, but most only survive to 5 or 6 years old. They mainly feed on underwater plants and bread from visitors. The swans nest on the smaller of the two islands from April to June and their eggs are about 4-5 inches long.
Canadian Goose Canada geese are the most common geese at Maiden Erlegh. All have a distinctive black head and neck with a white cheek patch; most have a full or partial white ring at the base of the neck, brownish wings, back and sides, white to grayish-brown breast and belly, white rump patch, and black legs and feet. Common characteristics of all geese include similar colouration of males and females, life-long pair bonds with mates (although those that lose mates will re-pair).
Egyptian Goose Egyptian Geese are at home in trees, regularly perching and even roosting there. Following egg laying, the birds almost disappear until the time comes to escort their goslings to the water. They are boldly patterned in light gray to tan, dark gray to brown, chestnut and black with a large chestnut patch around the eye. The bills are a mottled flesh colour. The ganders (males) are larger and brighter in color.
The Greylag Goose is the size of a domestic goose and its plumage is uniformly grey-brown with flesh-pink legs and an orangy coloured bill. They feed on various grasses, weeds and are very fond of clover and dandelions.
The Cormorant is a large blackish bird with long neck and bill. They swim low in the water and their feathers become completely soaked during a dive which is why they are often found perched with their wings spread out to dry.
Great Crested Grebe The Great Crested Grebe is the largest grebe in Britain. They are about the size of a mallard and their colourful chestnut & black crests make them easy to identify. During the first two to three weeks of a grebe's life they ride on their parents backs. The parents assist the young to climb aboard by placing a foot along the surface of the water, but before long the adults begin discouraging the young from boarding by chucking them off and manoeuvring out of the way.
The Kingfisher is our most colourful small bird and is very easily recognizable with it's bright turquoise-blue and orange-chestnut plumage and red legs make, but if you are lucky enough to see one then all you usually see is a flash of brilliant blue. They often sit motionless on a perch over the water on the lookout for fish swimming beneath them. Outside the breeding season they are mostly solitary and secretive, roosting in dense cover near the lake.
The Grey Heron is the most common heron in Europe. It has an awkward shape and in flight the neck is held retracted in an "S". They often stand motionless in the lake or at the edge of the reeds waiting for prey. Apart from fish they also feed on voles, frogs, reptiles and large insects.
The Common Gull is a frequent inland visitor outside the breeding season of May-July. It is a slender gull with a white roundish head, slim greenish-yellow bill and dark eyes.
The Black Headed Gull is generally the commonest gull. It is the size of a pigeon and during the breeding season (April-July) it has it's distinctive black head but this turns to white with dark ears for the rest of the year. It is not this gull but the Lesser Black Headed Gull that you see frequenting rubbish tips and playing fields in winter.
One of the world's most graceful birds, the Common Tern winters in the Southern Hemisphere and returns to breed in colonies on coastal islands and on purpose-built rafts on inland lakes and reservoirs. They hover and then plunge headfirst to catch fish that are 3-4 inches long. They have been known to live as long as 25 years.
The Grey Wagtail feeds at the water's edge, it moves with a dainty walk and constantly changes direction, it dips its head and neck forward at every step. It can run at surprising speeds. Insects form the bulk of its diet even in winter though occasionally minnows are also taken. Unlike other wagtails the grey regularly perches in trees, especially when disturbed while feeding. It will reamin there quite still for as long as the observer is visible.