Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: December 2019

Like all of the mid-winter months, very little bird movement of any distance occurs in December unless there is significantly cold weather. This December was very mild and therefore few highlights were to be expected.

The one and only major highlight was on the first day of December when a group of three goldeneye (main picture above) flew in early in the morning, going on to stay all day, but disappear overnight. Goldeneye are a scarce species here, which is surprising considering they overwinter every year on West Warwick reservoir at Walthamstow, little more than a mile away. Past records here have been of one or two birds, with the last one being a single female in 2011.

Our three regular winter-only ducks were seen to varying extents during December with Teal being the main attraction. Groups of up to ten could be seen displaying and giving their whistling call which could be heard all around the site. In contrast, shoveler and shelduck were only seen here twice each all month.

Little egrets (1) are not seen here often in winter but three birds flew over together on the 12th. The only unusual gull was a great black-backed gull (2) seen on the 18th. Both peregrine and sparrowhawk were seen a few times a week through the month and kingfisher (3) was seen frequently just as they had been in the previous few months, often perching conveniently in good view from the boardwalk.


Although finch numbers may have climbed slightly through the winter, we didn’t see the more interesting finches that cold weather often brings. The mild weather did mean that more chiffchaffs (4) than usual seem to be overwintering here, with several birds seen most days, usually around the New River near the main entrance. Both goldcrest and coal tit also seem to be present in higher numbers than the previous few winters.

The total number of bird species seen here in December was 60, exactly the same total as December 2019, and pretty close to the 62 species recorded in the two previous Decembers.

[Photos by Chris Farthing]








Posted on January 13th 2020