Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: July 2017
In July many birds continue to raise young, whilst some birds which have already finished breeding activity migrate south. This means we lose some of our summer visitors, but a few of our winter birds are starting to return. In addition, passage migrants (birds which breed north of here but spend the winter in mainland Europe or further south) can be seen passing through. A feature of southerly migration in late summer and through autumn is that birds can stay around longer compared with the northerly migration in spring, when a passage migrant will rarely spend more than a day here as they hurry to their breeding grounds.
Three broods of great crested grebe (main picture above) hatched here in July. Grebes and their young spend much of the time in the open water, which means they are susceptible to predation by herons and the large gulls, but at the end of July each of the three grebe pairs still has one young grebe. The resident pair of mute swans continue to show off their amazing brood of nine cygnets, now almost three months old.
A female teal (picture 1 below) visited on the 18th, the first time this common winter species has been seen here for several months. Two red-crested pochard were on the water on the 24th, another bird which is absent during the breeding season. The first passage migrants of the ‘autumn’ were two redshank (2) which were here on July 2nd. Two birds which have been a real feature of this summer here, common tern 3 and little egret, were seen every day through July with nine of the former and six of the latter being the highest counts.
The number of swifts (4) in the airspace over and around the reservoir has dropped from somewhere in the hundreds to just a handful over the course of the month, whilst both house martin and sand martin have been seen feeding low over the water in the early evenings.
Raptor sightings increased markedly towards the end of July with the first sightings of kestrel this year, as well as regular visits from sparrowhawk and peregrine.
Chiffchaff (5) is a species which was seen very infrequently in the breeding season, but became a regular bird here from about mid-July onwards. The first garden warblers (7) of the year were seen on the 26th, and the first returning sedge warbler (6) appeared on the 29th. Perhaps the highlight of the month though, was a juvenile whinchat (8) which passed through on the 25th and stayed in the reed-bed all day before continuing its migration in the night.
The total species count for July was 66, slightly down on the 69 seen in July of 2016.
[All photos by Chris Farthing]