Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: January 2017
In January, the best chance of seeing unusual birds is during an extended cold spell. Specifically, when the temperature is in the range -5 to -10⁰C in the London area, many bodies of water will be frozen over. However, the reservoir at Woodberry Wetlands may only be partially frozen, due to the flow of water from the New River through the reservoir, and its closer proximity to central London. A period of temperature in this range arrived in mid-January for around ten days. The major highlight during this spell was a bittern (picture 1 below is from a January 2016 visit) on January 25th. Other highlights associated with this cold spell were a shelduck (2) on the 17th and two pairs of goosander on the 22nd.
It was a good month for both ducks and gulls. A total of eight duck species were seen, as well as the one-off visits mentioned above. Both teal (main picture above) and shoveler were regular, and the highest counts for a while of some species were recorded with over 60 gadwall and 35 pochard being present during some days of the cold spell. The most unusual gull seen was a Mediterranean gull (3) on January 3rd, and yellow-legged gull (4) was also recorded eight times.
A single record of little egret (5) was an improvement on December and both water rail and common snipe (6) were both seen regularly when water levels were slightly lower. Just one great crested grebe has been present for the whole of January, whilst numbers of little grebe are much healthier, with at least 6 birds often seen.
A feature of January this year has been the large numbers of thrushes. Fieldfare, redwing, song thrush (7) and mistle thrush have all been recorded here very regularly in January, an observation which mirrors records from sites all around the UK.
Amongst the smaller birds, it was a good month for house sparrow with a colony of around ten birds being seen often along the eastern boundary. Reed buntings (8) have been very regular around the reedbed feeder, with at least 5 birds probably on site now. Chaffinch numbers have been relatively high, with as many as eight birds seen feeding on the ground around the woodland trail.
The total species count for January was 64
[All photos by Chris Farthing]