Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: May 2018

May is the month when the last few of our summer visitors trickle in, and most birds here are focussed on breeding.

Bird of the month for May was probably whitethroat (main picture above). In the last few years there have been around a handful of sightings of this species per year, but this year a male arrived on May 6th and could be heard singing from the reed-bed every day until May 31st.

Our most exotic visitor in May was a bar-headed goose (picture 1 below) which flew over on the 2nd. Famed for being the highest-flying bird species known, whose annual migration takes it over the Himalayas, our bird was probably not a truly wild bird, but part of a feral population from mainland Europe. Other wildfowl here during May were shelduck, seen regularly at the start of the month, regular red-crested pochard, and a single shoveler (2) seen on the 22nd. A common winter species here, it is very unusual to see one here in late May. Many different species of water-birds bred here this month, including the first broods of both mute swan and great crested grebe.

The first little ringed plover (3) of the year was seen on the 23rd, whilst common sandpiper (4) was seen several times in the earlier half of the month.

Although black-headed gulls generally move off to their breeding grounds in April, a group of up to ten presumably non-breeding birds were seen here regularly for the first half of May. A great black-backed gull was seen on the 1st, and small numbers of common tern (5) were seen from May 6th.

It was a good month for raptor sightings, with a couple of early morning red kite, and two buzzards (6 with carrion crow) were seen on the same day, May 6th. A peregrine was also seen on a handful of occasions.

Swifts (7) provided a regular highlight through May, with several hundred birds feeding over the reservoir during periods of favourable weather conditions.

Whilst sightings of sedge warbler, willow warbler and chiffchaff were relatively sparse during May, both reed warbler and Cettiā€™s warbler seem to be having good years. Other passerine birds seen frequently during May were reed bunting, linnet and grey wagtail.

The total species count for May was 68, slightly down on the 72 seen in May 2017.


[All photos by Chris Farthing]


Posted on June 13th 2018