Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: January 2020
January was a wet but mild month, giving birds little reason to move around, therefore resulting in few highlights. There were two exceptions to this, both of which were unfortunately brief. Firstly on the 21st, a female-type siskin was seen on one of the feeders along the woodland trail. January has tended to be a month when the more unusual finches can turn up here, with brambling and lesser redpoll seen in the last couple of years, but this was the first siskin for over five years. Then on the 25th a redshank was seen circling over the reservoir before dropping down amongst the lagoons, never to be seen again. This wading bird tends to put in an appearance here about every two or three years.
Of the seven common duck species here, four are year-round (mallard, tufted duck, pochard and gadwall) and three are winter visitors. Of the winter ducks, Shelduck (main picture above) were regular visitors all through January, with up to three birds present. Teal (picture 1 below) were ever-present through the month, with a maximum count of nine, whilst shoveler were surprisingly uncommon, with only one or two birds seen a handful of times during the month.
Other birds which spend the winter here include water rail and snipe. Both were present all month in low numbers, and were typically very difficult to see, though at least the water rails could regularly be heard squealing from the reed-bed.
Woodpeckers were very active through January, with green woodpecker being regularly heard yaffling either along the woodland trail or more distantly, and great spotted woodpeckers (2) being frequently seen and heard drumming, also along the woodland trail.
Although the lack of cold weather meant we didn’t have redwing or fieldfare, the classic winter thrushes, during January, we did have singing from the two more common thrushes. Song thrush (3) could be heard singing most mornings, and mistle thrush were also occasionally heard singing.
One or two chiffchaff continue to spend winter with us, they will probably disappear if there is any significantly cold weather. A few reed bunting (4) have also been seen regularly through the month, often feeding on the ground in the area of cleared reed-bed just north of the reservoir.
The total number of bird species seen here in January was 59, lower than the previous three years when the number was consistently 63 or 64.
[Photos by Chris Farthing]