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Colin says: A Swan, three Canada Geese, and a Black Headed Gull, in Walney Island's Northern Nature Reserve.

The mute swan is a very large white waterbird. It has a long S-shaped neck, and an orange bill with black at the base of it. Flies with its neck extended and regular slow wingbeats. The population in the UK has increased recently, perhaps due to better protection of this species. The problem of lead poisoning on lowland rivers has also largely been solved by a ban on the sale of lead fishing weights. Some birds stay in their territories all year, while others move short distances and form winter flocks. In cold weather, some birds arrive from Europe into eastern England.

The Canada Goose is a highly variable species which has long caused headaches for taxonomists. In the early 1950s, it was split up into 12 subspecies, of which two were believed to be extinct though one, the Giant Canada Goose, was later found still to exist. The 12 subspecies were based partly on known ranges, but more on examination of skins. At the time, it was thought that all the subspecies were separated geographically, at least on the breeding grounds if not entirely in winter. The introduced Canada Geese in Britain are among the largest and palest of the subspecies. There are also large, dark subspecies, some very small ones, no bigger than a Barnacle Goose, as well as some in between. These 12 subspecies are still referred to in many identification books, including recent ones.

Black Headed Gulls - Larus ridibundus - not really a black-headed bird, more chocolate-brown - in fact, for much of the year, it has a white head. It is most definitely not a ‘seagull’ and is found commonly almost anywhere inland. Black-headed gulls are sociable, quarrelsome, noisy birds, usually seen in small groups or flocks, often gathering into larger parties where there is plenty of food, or when they are roosting.
Claire says: Hi, this is a beautiful picture of a mute swan.
Hougenai says: Cannada geese are now officially classed as vermin. Since they have appeared on N Walney they have badly effected the native biota. Aggressive behaviour has reduced the number and range of other species. Grazing of areas of emergent vegetation has resulted in an almost total loss of the nationally scarce Equisetum variegatum (variegated horsetail). they should, by rights, be erradicated! Hougenai

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