Taking flight at Lakeside - Lakeside North Harbour
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Taking flight at Lakeside

Ever wondered how many species of birds there are in the UK? Official records list 621 varieties, with robins, chaffinchs, wood pigeons, and starlings being the most common. Lakeside has an extensive woodland area, the perfect place for passing birds to nestle in. We caught up with our friends at The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to find out why Lakeside is such a hotspot in the local area…

So, why is Lakeside such an attractive haven for birds?
​There is a good mixture of habitats attracting a range of birds including the lake, trees, grassland and scrub. With some additional habitat creation, enhancement and management, it is likely that Lakeside will attract even more birds in the future.

Where is the best spot on campus to view birds?
​During our surveys, the majority of birds were observed in the southern part of Lakeside; on and around the lake and in amongst the trees, so you’ll be sure to spot plenty when out on a lunchtime wander or stretching your legs on a walking meeting.

What types of birds are present?
We recorded a total of 255 birds of 47 species across 10 visits over the winter in 2020-21. This included a number of more common garden birds (from blue tits and great tits, to robins and blackbirds), water birds, such as Canada geese, coots, moorhen, mallards, grebes, grey heron, oystercatcher and gulls, and some fabulous birds of prey, including a buzzard, sparrowhawk and kestrel.

Any rare species spotted?
There might not have been anything particularly rare, but there’s a brilliant range of species. We even saw a water rail right on the path near the buildings and a kingfisher. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the kingfisher flashing by in a blur of blue or possibly a buzzard or kestrel on the lookout for lunch!

When is the best time of day for bird watchers to be out?
​First thing in the morning (shortly after sunrise) tends to be best; this is when they tend to be most active and singing. Shortly before dusk is also good as birds forage before dark. For most species, the best time of day will be at sunrise, mid-afternoon, and at sunset. During these times birds are searching for food and water, utilising the rays of the sun for mite control and some relaxing downtime, and preparing for the long night ahead.

How has the pandemic impacted things – has the reduction in traffic pollution resulted in an increase in the bird population?
​It’s too early to tell at this stage. However, I suspect that a reduction in traffic pollution would result in an increase in bird populations across the country. There’s been plenty of anecdotal evidence of increased bird observations.

Some people might be tempted to feed the birds while they are out at lunchtime. What advice would you give?
​While feeding may seem helpful to birds, it may not always be beneficial to them. In particular, feeding bread should be discouraged due to concerns over welfare and nutrient enrichment, as well as increasing sediment churn within the lake. Therefore, it is recommended that you only feed them with appropriate bird food. Good hygiene is vital too. If you’re going to feed the birds, don’t forget to wash your hands before and after!

Have you spotted any unusual birds on your wanders around campus? We’d love to see your snaps of the lake and our wildlife, and don’t forget you can always find out more using the Wildlife Trusts’ wildlife explorer: wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/birds