Common birds of the Lake


The Eurasian coot, also known as the common coot, is a member of the rail and crake bird family, found in Europe and in parts of Australasia and Africa. It has a black body, a glossy black head and a white bill with a white frontal shield. The male has a more pronounced shield although it can be hard to tell males and females apart. Coots are feisty birds. You may see them chasing each other on the lake, and the males squaring up to each other, especially in the mating season. They construct nesting platforms in the reeds and shallow parts of the lake.


Moorhens are a member of the rail family. They are blackish with a red and yellow beak and green legs. They are common all over Europe and live around lakes, ponds, canals, marshes and other wetlands. They spend more time out of the water than coots and you may even see them on low lying branches of trees.

Tufted duck

The Tufted Duck is a very elegant medium-sized diving duck. The male has a black head, neck, breast and back, and white sides. It has a small crest on the back of its head and a striking yellow eye. In flight you can see a  white stripe across the back of its wing. The female is chocolate brown with paler flanks and a smaller crest. Tufted ducks breed in the UK, but numbers increase in winter because birds move here from Iceland and northern Europe. We do not see tufted ducks on the lake all the time but sometimes you may see several at once.

Grey heron

Herons belong to the same family as storks and egrets and  there are a few species of heron in the UK. We have the commonest, the Grey heron, in Princes Park. Grey herons are tall, with long legs, a long beak, and grey, black and white feathers. Herons often stand very still on the lookout for prey, usually fish and they can also take frogs and young chicks. They may stand with their necks stretched out, looking for food, or hunched down with their neck bent over their chest. In the park you can also sometimes see a heron perched in a tree.


Mallards are large ducks with long bill. Males have dark green heads, yellow bills, purple-brown breasts and grey bodies. Females are mainly brown with an orange bill. Mallards breed in all parts of the UK wherever there are suitable wetland habitats and are very common on park lakes. In the UK, Mallards may be resident breeders or migrants – many of the birds that breed in Iceland and northern Europe spend the winter here. They are also common in many other parts of the world. In the autumn males lose their bright plumage and go into “eclipse”. They then look just lie females.

Little grebe

Little grebes are small diving birds which can surprise you by disappearing underwater and reappearing some distance away. Little grebes are small, brown grebes, which develop a bright chestnut throat and cheeks during the breeding season. They tend to live in the reeds, where they also nest, and are so sometimes difficult to see, but they have a beautiful warbling/wavering song which you can often hear near the lake reeds.


Black headed gull

The Black headed gull is a regular lake visitor. It is not really black-headed, as its head is more dark chocolate-brown in summer, and in winter its head is white! It has a red beak and legs, a grey body and black tips to its wings. It is common in the UK and in many Northern Hemisphere countries. Black-headed gulls are quarrelsome, noisy birds, usually seen in small groups, but gathering in larger flocks when there is plenty of food about. It feeds on almost anything from insects to creatures living in the lake, seeds or bread.  Unlike some other gulls it is mainly a coastal bird reflecting Princes Parks proximity to the Mersey Estuary.


The Cormorant is a large black bird whose size and colour make it very visible when it visits the lake. It has an almost prehistoric appearance and is often seen standing very still on the lake banks with its wings held out to dry. Its wingspan can be as much as one meter. Cormorants are excellent divers and fishers often disappearing for quite some time under water. They are coastal birds but visit the park regularly, especially in winter, probably because of the sizeable number of fish in the lake.

Canada goose

The Canada Goose is a large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck, and large white throat patch. A species originally from North America, it has successfully spread to cover most of the UK. It is often found on park lakes and reservoirs. Canada geese are often found in groups and are very noisy when they fly or if disturbed. Princes Park groups vary in size during the year but usually at least one pair nest on the island.

Mute swan

The Mute Swan is a very large white waterbird  It has an orange bill with a black knob at the base. The male has a bigger knob than female. It flies with its neck extended, with regular, slow wingbeats. The population in the UK has increased recently, probably due to the prohibition of lead weighs used in fishing (which often caused lead poisoning). Some birds, like those in Princes Park, stay in their territories all year, while others move long distances and form winter flocks. In cold weather some birds arrive from Europe into eastern England. Mute swans mate for life, but may take a new mate if their mate dies. They are not actually mute, but less noisy than many other species of swan. They nest in the reeds at the north of the lake. Their young are called cygnets and are grey until they are almost fully grown. As they mature you may see them having flying lessons from their parents, and when nearly fully grown they will fly to a new home leaving their parents behind in Princes Park.


Lake bird survival

Since the Princes Park lake was repaired and a bore hole installed in 2021 to maintain the water level by Liverpool city council as part of the Mandela island memorial project the number of birds on the lake has greatly increased. However, lake birds are vulnerable to predators such as foxes and herons. A considerable danger is from dogs entering the water, chasing birds off the lake or attacking them. Becoming tangled in fishing line or getting a hook in the mouth is another hazard. Many people want to help the birds by feeding them. White bread is sadly dangerous for birds, causing vitamin deficiency. This can be seen in geese as “Angel wing disease”, a wing deformity which prevents them flying.    

So please look after our birds:

·       Fish responsibly

·       Keep dogs on leads around the lake

·       Feed the birds natural foods such as seeds, peas oats or sweetcorn

Coming soon...

We hope you enjoy listening to the many birds in the Park and getting the odd glimpse of something unusual or rare. Why not try using the smartphone app  called Merlin which once loaded to your phone you can use to identify birds by their song. Visit the links page to find a link to the app. You might only hear the bird but at least you get to know what it is.
Very shortly, we will be installing a new noticeboard in the Park with pictures of just a handful of birds you will see on and around the water. So look out for that soon and see how many birds you can see.

Friends of Princes Park


FoPP are building up a guide to the birds of Princes Park - these are some of the ones we have seen recently. We have categorised them from very common to very rare depending on the likelihood of spotting them in Princes Park. If you see a rare bird in the park please photograph it if possible and let us know!


WhatsApp: 07764510984