Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: February 2017
February is one of the months where little or no bird movement associated with migration occurs. This means that the likelihood of finding any unusual birds is low unless there is a period of severe weather. There was a short cold snap in early February which provided the major highlight of the month, when on the 4th an LWT volunteer working on site saw a bittern fly from the northern to eastern reedbed. A few days later on the 7th a kingfisher visited the site. This species has been unusually scarce here this winter.
Ducks and gulls can be relied on to provide interest in the winter months. In February seven duck species were seen, with shelduck, shoveler (picture 1) and teal being the most interesting. A pair of teal were seen mating on the last day of February, giving rise to hopes that they could be the 47th species recorded breeding here. A regular 4th winter yellow-legged gull (2) was seen many times through February, and a black-headed gull (main picture above) with a darvic ring (designed to be read in the field without trapping of the bird) was seen on February 3rd. The bird was ringed in Copenhagen as an adult male in 2013 and had been seen in Copenhagen again in the following three springs. The report from Woodberry Wetlands was the first report of this bird being seen outside of Denmark.
Towards the end of February the water level on the reservoir was lower than it has been for some time, with plenty of mud exposed. This meant that both water rail (3) and common snipe were seen regularly. These birds are so elusive that they are difficult to count, but there are certainly multiple numbers of both species present.
There is always a chance on a warm afternoon in late February of a large raptor (buzzard or kite) drifting our way, but sightings were once again limited to sparrowhawk and peregrine.
Amongst the smaller birds, thrushes were very evident with a small flock of redwing (4) permanently present through February, and song thrush, mistle thrush and fieldfare also seen. The three common finches – greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinch – can be heard singing every day now, and long-tailed tits are now being seen in pairs rather than the larger feeding groups typical of winter. Coal tits were seen on six occasions in February and there was a single sighting of a chiffchaff on the 2nd.
The total species count for February was 60, which will certainly be the lowest monthly total of 2017.
[All photos by Chris Farthing]