Birds of Marlpit Community Garden April 2016
A Little Egret has been on the Community Garden, briefly alighting behind the lake on 22 March. These small white members of the heron family were extremely rare in Britain until 1989, when there was an influx in the autumn but have increased their numbers rapidly and there are now several hundred in the country. They first nested in Britain in 1996. The British population is the most northerly in the world and it is possible the northern expansion of the species is due to climate change
A number of different species of gull continue to visit, and a pair of herring gulls were observed paddling on the ground with their feet, a behaviour they use to attract worms, the worms coming to the surface in response to the paddling, possibly because it leads them to believe that a mole, their greatest predator, is coming, or because they believe it is raining and they are about to be drowned. The behaviour of the gulls appears to be innate.
A pair of mallard ducks were on the lake in March. These are our commonest British duck, and the ancestor of most of the varieties of domestic duck. They should now be nesting, with the brown coloured females incubating the eggs, when their plumage provides them with camouflage. The more brightly coloured males, with their handsome bottle green heads and grey backs, take no part in incubation, and may even desert the female to pair with another one whilst she is incubating.