Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: September 2019

September is a month in which the birds seen at the end of the month can be markedly different from those at the start of the month. Summer visitors move on, winter visitors arrive, and for the first half of the month at least, passage migrants pass through.

Certainly the major September highlight was a sighting on the morning of the 22nd of two great white egrets (one on left of main picture above, with a little egret right). This is a species which was almost unheard of in the UK ten years ago, is now on the increase, but is still scarce in the London area. It was the first confirmed sighting here, after a few possibles over the last few years. Interestingly, the group of three birds, two great white and one little egret, were initially seen over Wandsworth Common before arriving here, and then were subsequently seen at Walthamstow Wetlands and in Chingford. On a map these four sightings fall almost exactly in a straight line.

The long-staying garganey remained here until around the middle of the month, but there was little other interest amongst the wildfowl, though a pochard x tufted duck hybrid (picture 1 below) was seen on the 15th. Common sandpipers (2) continued to pass through for the first half of the month. One of the most enigmatic birds of wetland sites, the kingfisher (3) has not been seen here on a regular basis for a couple of years now. This month though, sightings increased sharply, with at least two birds being seen regularly, most often in the area around the grabber near the main entrance.

Amongst the gulls, black-headed gulls continued to grow in numbers towards their winter levels, and as well as the common large gulls, there were one or two sightings each through the month of yellow-legged gull and great black-backed gull.

Green woodpeckers (4) were seen and heard all month, presumably after a successful breeding season nearby. The three regular hirundine species all put in appearances in the first half of the month, with house martins being regular and both sand martins and swallows being occasional.

September always sees a big decrease in the number of warbler species here. At the start of the month there were a few sightings of both lesser whitethroat and common whitethroat, with reed warbler and willow warbler both present in good numbers. The only garden warbler sighting of the year was on the 13th, and a late sedge warbler was seen on the 20th. By the end of the month though, we were down to just our three all-year-round warblers, Cetti’s warbler, chiffchaff and blackcap.

Flycatchers are mainly an August bird here, but there were a few visits from pied flycatchers (5) early in the month and a spotted flycatcher (6) was seen on the 30th.

Warblers and flycatchers didn’t provide the only highlights amongst passerine birds as a male bullfinch was seen along the woodland trail on the 12th, the first sighting of this species here for more than 20 years. A first winter male common redstart visited on the 21st, only the second of the year for this species.

The total number of bird species seen here in September was 74. This represents a bumper month as we only had 65 in September 2018, and 67 and 70 in the previous two Septembers.


[Photos by Chris Farthing]

Posted on October 20th 2019