Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: April 2017
The birding year hots up through April as migration reaches its peak. Most summer visitors arrive here during this month and rarities can be expected from passage migrants. There is further interest from courtship (e.g. great crested grebes in main photo above), nesting activity, and the first juvenile birds start to appear.
In a frenetic few days of bird movements starting on April 22nd, a great white egret was observed passing over in a north-easterly direction. There were also three ‘the one that got away’ sightings as a duck of the sawbill family, a diver species which was probably a great northern diver, and an unidentified flock of over 40 wading birds were also seen on a similar flight path.
Back down to earth, one unusual bird which has been a fairly regular visitor has been a tufted duck x pochard hybrid (1) which bears a passing resemblance to the more scarce scaup. We had two large raptors visiting, a marsh harrier (2) was seen on April 11th (picture shows mobbing by a carrion crow) and a red kite on the 26th.
Two winter duck species: teal and shoveler, were seen at the start of April but will probably not be seen now until autumn, but two of our irregular duck species: shelduck and red-crested pochard continued to be frequent visitors throughout April.
In April many wading birds are returning north to their breeding grounds and can occasionally stop off here on the way. There are high hopes when the weather is foggy, and sure enough on the murky morning of April 3rd, the unmistakable call of an oystercatcher (3) could be heard from the gloom. The bird eventually landed on a boat over on the west reservoir. This was the only passage wader, but 2 waders which are common here in the summer months returned. Firstly, a little ringed plover (4) was first seen on April 12th, and then a common sandpiper (5) was seen for the first time on the 20th. Both species were then seen frequently for the remainder of the month.
Several other summer visitors returned in April, the first house martin arrived on the 19th and the first swift (6) was seen on the last day of the month. The first common tern (7) also appeared on the same day. The number of warblers that can be seen and heard here increased when the first sedge warbler arrived on the 11th and then the first reed warbler (8) on the 12th.
The total species count for March was 71, an impressive total and the highest of the year so far, but down on the 74 birds seen here in April 2016.
[All photos by Chris Farthing]