Chris Farthing’s Woodberry Bird Highlights: January 2019
Extended cold spells are what brings in the rare birds at this time of year and these were lacking this month. We did have one significant highlight though, a female brambling (main picture above) was found along the woodland trail on the 13th. This species was fairly regular here until around ten years ago, but is largely a rural bird and as the tower blocks around the site have grown and the area has become less rural, sightings have decreased, and this was the first for around five years. Another almost-highlight was a small flock of waxwings which never actually made it onto the site but stayed in the vicinity (often the grounds of the Castle Climbing Centre) for over a week.
A regular highlight through January were shelduck (picture 1 below), with a single bird being present most mornings. During periods of low water levels, water rail (2) were frequently seen, with two birds seen at the same time on a few occasions. Any number of snipe could be present, with a maximum of five being seen together on the 31st, when a jack snipe (3) was also seen.
The only unusual sightings amongst the gulls were a great black-backed gull which was seen twice. A flyover red kite (4) was a good record for January here. Other birds which are often difficult to find here in January were stock dove (5), with the first bird of the year being seen on the 28th, and then on the 31st we had the first green woodpecker (6) of the year.
Song thrushes continued to sing throughout January, with three birds being heard singing simultaneously on many mornings. A few chiffchaff were regularly seen in trees around the boardwalk in early January but all disappeared around mid-month. Coal tits (7) were seen frequently around the feeders along the woodland trail, and reed bunting (8) sightings continued to increase, with three birds being seen feeding together on the 30th.
The total number of bird species seen in January was 63, a total just one fewer than January in each of the two preceding years.
[All photos by Chris Farthing]