Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: April 2019
April sees the peak of spring migration, as summer visitors return and passage migrants pass through. April usually proves to be the best birding month of the year here, and April 2019 saw enough highlights that this year will probably be no exception.
The first of four major highlights in the month was a kittiwake (above with herring gull and lesser black-backed gull), which arrived on the afternoon of the 4th and stayed for almost an hour. The last sighting of this species here was in 2010. The following afternoon, three sandwich terns did a few circuits of the reservoir before heading off north, where they were seen at Walthamstow Wetlands a few minutes later. We had a visit by a single sandwich tern in 2018, but the previous record was from 2006. The next highlight was a female garganey which was seen amongst the lagoons on the 18th, and finally a tree pipit (picture 1 below) flew out of the reed-bed into the trees along the woodland trail on the 29th.
April was a good month for ducks, as well as the garganey, teal were seen a few times at the start of the month, both shelduck and red-crested pochard were seen sporadically all month, and we had a couple of sightings of shoveler. Gulls were also well represented with the more unusual being a great black-backed gull on the 4th and a yellow-legged gull on the 5th. The first common tern (2) of the year was seen on the 27th.
Warm spring afternoons can be good for large raptors and both red kite and buzzard (3) were seen on two occasions. Three wading birds were also seen with snipe still present at the start of the month, and both green sandpiper (4) and common sandpiper (5) being seen on passage.
The first sand martin had arrived in March, but our other two common hirundines arrived during April, with the first swallow seen on the 4th and the first house martin on the 27th. Swifts (6) were a bit late this year, the first being seen on the 30th. Three warbler species also arrived this month, with the first of both willow warbler and sedge warbler (7) being seen on the 9th, and the overdue first reed warbler (8) being seen and heard on the 17th. Numbers of the latter were well into double figures by the end of the month.
The total number of bird species seen in April was 73, a total identical to the corresponding month in 2018.
[Main photo by Niall T. Keogh, remaining photos by Chris Farthing]