photo of Egyptian goose and gosling

Burgess Goes Wild: Learning about Waterfowl

On a drizzly Saturday morning in April, Burgess Park was bright green with new growth on trees and shrubs. Despite the terrible weather the Friends of Burgess Park were finding out how much people knew about the birds on the lake; their names; what they eat and the problems of feeding bread to the ducks.

Most people could name a few of the species we have on the lake  but did not know that feeding bread is bad for the birds’ health, pollutes the water and encourages rats.

We tested out lettuce as one of the alternatives to bread. At first the geese and coots ignored it but after a while and a few pecks the Hooper geese ate lots. They like small pieces of lettuce and the smaller birds like it quite finely shredded.  Some were eating out of one of our volunteers Tom’s hands.

Regular dog walkers told Susan about the lone pair of swans who for the last three years have laid a clutch of eggs, but none have hatched. This year there are five pale blue eggs in their next, so we will have to wait a few weeks to see what happens this year. Fingers crossed there will be some baby cygnets wandering around soon!

Park users made a number of suggestions about what they would like to see:

  • Signage explaining about the wildlife on the lake
  • Temporary signs when food like rice is left for the birds
  • Some system for swapping bread for alternative bird food

As well as educating people about what should and shouldn’t be fed to birds, we also undertook a waterfowl bird count. Despite the awful weather, there were still a lot of birds. Here’s what we saw:

2 Carrion crows

4 Coots

4 Canadian geese

5 Mallards

6 Moorhens

17 Egyptian geese

3 Greylag geese

17 Swifts

6 Tufted ducks

2 Starlings

3 Green parakeets

2 Swans

1 Carp

1 Herring gull

Download the WATERFOWL ID sheet

This was the first of several events we have planned under the theme of ‘Burgess Goes Wild.’ Check out the events page for more information.


Coot makes an ingenious nest


Nesting Swans

Egyptian Geese
Egyptian Goose Family