Chris Farthing’s Woodberry bird highlights: June 2021

Mute swan family credit Chris Farthing

June here is all about breeding. This means very little bird movement of any distance takes place, so the sightings here are confined to birds that breed on-site or within a few miles of here. The only exception was a few wandering ducks.

As usual in summer, the major visitor attraction has been mute swan cygnets (above). Although the reservoir pair failed to breed this year, probably due to the inconsistent water level, the pair on the adjacent New River successfully hatched five cygnets starting around the 17th of June.

It has also been a successful breeding season for ducks. Around three years ago a male mallard with some domestic mallard genes arrived on-site, It bred with a fully wild female mallard and proved to have excellent parenting skills. It also seemed to pass good parenting genes on to its offspring, and now after a few breeding cycles, there are more than fifty descendants of this duck either in the reservoir or along the New River. The domestic ancestry means they have a wide variety of unusual plumages, although the curly tail feathers gives them away as mallards.

As well as mallards, tufted duck, gadwall and pochard (below) have all bred here this year. At least three broods of pochard is notable because it is officially a scarce breeding bird in the UK.

Pochard brood in the water

Pochard brood credit Chris Farthing

As well as our breeding ducks we had a few visits from other ducks, with four teal being seen on the 15th, a single shelduck on the 12th, and several visits from one or two red-crested pochard early in the month.

Unfortunately, the great crested grebe (below) pair here had a difficult breeding season. After building several nests which failed due to rising and falling water levels, they finally hatched chicks in the middle of June but they were soon predated.

Great crested grebe

Great crested grebe credit Chris Farthing

Common terns (below) have a breeding colony at Walthamstow Wetlands and those birds frequently visit here during the breeding season. Up to four or five birds were seen most days through June, and some interest was even shown in our tern rafts.

Common tern

Common tern credit Chris Farthing

It has probably been the most successful breeding season ever here for warblers, a huge number of reed warblers bred, as well as a few pairs each of Cetti’s warbler, chiffchaff and blackcap. Sedge warblers (juvenile below) don’t breed here every year but we probably had two broods this year, and common whitethroat bred in a bush near the woodland trail, they have been suspected to have bred here before but this year was the first time they were definitely successful, with juvenile birds being seen getting fed by the adults.

Juvenile sedge warbler

Credit Chris Farthing

Young Cetti’s warblers (below) were seen all through June, especially around the boardwalk.

Juvenile Cetti's warbler

Credit Chris Farthing

Great spotted woodpeckers (below) were another breeding success. A pair nested in the large Ash tree next to the water inlet and the young fledged mid-June and could be seen all around the site after that.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

Credit Chris Farthing

The total number of bird species seen here in June 2021 was 60, a fairly typical number for a June here.