Patch Profile – Kincraig Lake

A stunning image of the Black-necked Grebe I found at the lake in 2018. Pic courtesy of Cliff whose pictures you can admire on Twitter at @FyldeWildlife

Kincraig Lake is a body of water in the middle of a Council housing estate in Blackpool. If you were driving past you probably wouldn’t even know it was there, and it isn’t particularly well watched. But I watch it more than most and over the years I have had some memorable moments.

Whilst it is in a very urban location the lake is part of a wider set of ponds and pathways known collectively as the North Blackpool Pond Trail. These are maintained by Groundwork, who employ a dedicated member of staff with volunteer support. As a result it is generally well maintained and relatively litter free.

In terms of the resident birds of the lake a pair of Mute Swans are usually present. The lake also supports the only heronry in the Blackpool borough away from Stanley Park. Up to three nests are occupied in the trees on the island. One bird is particularly tame and loiters around the duck feeding area where excellent images can be obtained even with a mobile phone.

Other breeding birds often include a pair of Great Crested Grebes, these are only ever present in summer. The reedbeds on the southern half of the lake have held singing Reed Warblers in all recent years but it is not known if they have been successful. Great Spotted Woodpeckers nest in the surrounding trees and Greylag Geese have become increasingly numerous with several pairs normally.

In the winter several species of duck can be present, though recent opening up of access to the previously more secluded southern half of the lake may have increased disturbance. Teal are regular in small flocks, in some years Shoveler can also be present in groups. Diving ducks are more erratic in visits, but are known to commute from Stanley Park and presumably Marton Mere as a Scaup moved between here and the park several times with Tufted Duck a couple of years ago. Water Rail frequent the reedbeds annually.

I have done WeBS counts at the site for several years. I also drop my wife off at the nearby college for work many days so it’s convenient to drop in. The Black-necked Grebe was certainly the most photogenic itinerant visitor, but the rarest was the Ring-necked Duck in March 2011. Other historic records include a Red-footed Falcon and a Bee-eater. A stunning male Pied Flycatcher lingered for a couple of years one spring and a Cetti’s Warbler sang one autumn morning but they never subsequently colonised. Other species seen include Kingfisher, Goldeneye and Little Egret.

An image of the Ring-necked Duck on site in 2011, taken by Paul Ellis and published on the Fylde Bird Club website

One day I saw a ‘rock’ protruding from the receding water levels that looked like a large owl. Realisation that it was actually an Eagle Owl stuck with waterlogged feathers took some time, and in a rather farcical set of events it wasn’t then rescued until the following afternoon. Nevertheless a combination of my discovering it and RNLI volunteers taking a canoe out meant that it was saved and returned to its owners a couple of streets away.

It’s a nice little site and if you are in the area you can cover it effectively in only ten or fifteen minutes with plenty of onsite parking close at hand. It’s probably a local patch for local people though in all honesty, but that doesn’t stop it being a little gem for a housing estate pond.

The urban nature of the setting is clear above. The OS map makes the islands look smaller than they actually are or seem to be when birding, effectively viewing is in two halves

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