Chris Farthing’s Woodberry Bird Highlights: December 2018
December was a quiet month for birding here, which is typical for a winter month with no cold spells. With no new-for-the-year birds being found, the total number of species seen here in 2018 ended up on 99, with firecrest and green sandpiper perhaps being the most surprising omissions, preventing us from getting into three figures.
Our regular winter birds were on show throughout the month, with teal (picture 1 below) and shoveler being seen regularly, and snipe (2) and water rail also being permanently present though harder to see.
Gulls often provide interest in winter, and we had a few sightings of both yellow-legged gull and great black-backed gull. Data from reading darvic rings (rings with codes which can be read with binoculars without capture of the bird) revealed that all three ringed black-headed gulls which visited this December had also been seen here last winter (being seen in various countries in the intervening period). A new ringed common gull (3) was found to be a second winter bird which had hatched in western Norway.
Although great crested grebes (4) can breed at any time of the year, it was unusual to have two pairs still engaging in regular courtship displays during December. The behaviour where one pair start displaying and the second pair then go into a display very close-by has been going on for a few months now.
A female kestrel (5) was seen regularly through December, almost as often as our two common raptors, sparrowhawk (main picture above) and peregrine. Singing song thrushes (6) have been a feature all month, with birds being heard every morning, often three singing from various territories around the site simultaneously. Small flocks of redwing (7) have started to appear in the trees along the north side of the side and sometimes on the ground.
Curiously, December once again proved to be the month when it is easiest to find chiffchaff (8) here, with two or three birds being seen every day in trees close to the main entrance. Reed bunting sightings are now increasing after the species was difficult to find here in autumn and early winter, and numbers of the three common finches (goldfinch, greenfinch & chaffinch) are increasing as we move towards the cold part of the winter.
The total number of bird species seen in December was 60, two lower than the corresponding month in both of the previous two years.
[All photos by Chris Farthing]