Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: October 2019

October is the month which sees most of our winter visitors return. Migration continues through the month, which generally involves birds passing high over the site, some being identifiable and some not. Weather conditions such as rain or fog can bring birds down though, either because of disorientation or simply so they can have a rest.

Fog was certainly the cause of the major highlight of the month, when on the murky morning of the 24th, a brent goose (picture 1 below) briefly touched down on the water. This was only the second ever record for this species here, the previous being on a similarly foggy morning in December 2016.

The brent goose wasn’t the only first-of-2019 water bird to visit in October, as on the last day of the month a single wigeon (2) flew in with two gadwall and stayed for the whole day. This was the only unusual duck here this month although there were good counts of both shoveler (up to 30) and teal (up to 6).

Two regular-but-elusive winter visitors returned during October, with the first water rail (3) of winter being seen on the 23rd and the first snipe (4) of winter appearing the following day. The snipe wasn’t the only wading bird seen in the month though, as an unusually late common sandpiper visited on the 19th.

Gulls often provide highlights in the winter here and this month we had a very regular adult yellow-legged gull (5), as well as a single visit from a great black-backed gull on the 25th. Common gulls started to appear mid-month and were here in almost double-figure numbers by the end of the month.


Kingfishers (main picture above) have been an unpredictable bird here in the recent past. They have been fairly scarce in the last couple of winters after being very regular for the few years before that. Thankfully, this year all indications are that this is going to be a good winter for them, with birds being seen throughout October. Favoured perches are either on the currently beached tern raft or low branches over the New River near the main entrance.

Flocks of redwing (6) started to pass over from October 4th, with hundreds of birds being seen on several days. Occasionally one or two birds were found perched in trees around the site. Fieldfare passage started on the 21st, with the largest flocks numbering around 30. Other passage birds seen were over 100 jackdaws, many thousands of migrating woodpigeons, a few small flocks of meadow pipit, and a flock of around 15 linnet which briefly came down to visit the roof garden of a tower block close to the site.

The total number of bird species seen here in October was 67. This beats the previous couple of years (65 & 63) but is below the excellent month of October 2016 when the total was 70.

[Photos by Chris Farthing]


Posted on November 07th 2019