Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: August 2019

August is always a good month for birding here, birds are passing through on migration which means we can get unusual visitors turning up. August usually produces a few wading birds as well as passerine migrants.

The major highlight of the month was the first ever record here of a wood sandpiper (picture 1 below). This small-but-elegant wader was seen feeding on the surface weed on the reservoir for around half an hour on the morning of August 22nd. A close second in terms of highlights was the eclipse male garganey (2) which was first seen on the 20th and stayed for the remainder of the month. This diminutive duck has been recorded here less than a handful of times in the past.

The wood sandpiper was one of three sandpiper species recorded in August, as common sandpipers continued to be seen most days, and green sandpipers (3) were also seen several times, with three birds present together on the 9th. A common snipe seen on the first day of August proved to be the only sighting of the month. Duck highlights weren’t limited to the garganey, as a tufted duck x pochard hybrid (4) was seen on the 17th, and both teal and shoveler increased towards their winter levels, with numbers present at the end of the month being 3 and 22 respectively.

Only the second sighting of a yellow-legged gull here this year was on the 25th, and a juvenile great black-backed gull (5) was seen on a couple of occasions.

An unusual visitor through most of august was a red-crowned parakeet which is a presumed escaped pet (being native to New Zealand where they are known as kakariki). Flocks of over 50 house martins were seen frequently through the month, and often had the odd sand martin amongst them. Swifts were still being seen in low numbers at the end of the month. Two jackdaws which flew over on the 25th were only the third record here so far this year.


Coal tits were regular through august suggesting that they bred close to the site, and the nuthatches (6) which had arrived at the end of June were present up to around mid-August.

It was a good month for warblers with 8 species being recorded here. This included the first lesser whitethroats (7) here for a few years, as well as both common whitethroat and sedge warbler. This site is a good one for flycatchers, and the first pied flycatcher (main picture above) of the year was seen on the 6th, with several other sightings through the rest of august. A first spotted flycatcher (8) of the year on the 17th was the first of a few seen over the next couple of weeks. On the 20th, a first-winter male common redstart (9) was seen fly-catching with a spotted flycatcher around the beehives.

The total number of bird species seen here in August was 74, easily beating the totals from the previous three Augusts of 70, 69 & 66.

[Photos by Chris Farthing]

Posted on September 24th 2019