Woodberry Wetlands bird highlights: July 2020

Woodberry Wetlands - image by Hadi El Ali

Chris Farthing gives his latest update on recent bird highlights at Woodberry Wetlands
Sandwich terns

© Chris Farthing

July is a month where there is always hope of an unusual bird dropping in. Autumn migration gathers pace and any southbound migrant can stop off here if weather conditions are conducive. The highlight of the month was definitely the stopping-off of a couple of southbound migrants as on the 22nd, two sandwich terns (main photo above with black-headed gulls) arrived here. They spent half an hour or so sat on the fence around the lagoons, before doing a bit of fishing and then flying off south. This is just the fourth record here for this species, with two of those having been flyovers only. 

The end of July is usually the time when our winter ducks start to return. The first shoveler (picture 1 below) was seen on the 29th with a few more joining it over the next few days. A teal (2) which was here on the 21st may have just been passing through as it wasn’t seen again.

Shoveler and teal

© Chris Farthing

Up to five common terns were seen all through July, including some arguing with the sandwich terns on the 22nd. Little egrets were seen reasonably often, but surprisingly only one or two birds at a time this year. Common sandpiper (3) numbers were also fairly low, with a single bird passing through on a few occasions in July but only one visit from multiple birds when two were seen together on the 9th.

Common sandpiper and yellow-legged gull

© Chris Farthing

Although winter is generally thought of as being the most interesting time of year for gulls here, there was plenty of interest from this bird family through July. Yellow-legged gulls (4) were seen on four occasions, twice being adults and twice juveniles. A second-summer great black-backed gull (5) was seen on the gull pipes on the 3rd.

A remarkable year for red kites here continued with another two sightings in July, and both hobby and kestrel were also seen in addition to our two common raptors, sparrowhawk and peregrine.

July sees the very early stages of migration by passerine birds and our one and only visitor from this group was willow warbler (6), first seen on the 26th and then seen and heard frequently for the rest of the month.

Great black-backed gull & willow warbler

© Chris Farthing

The total number of bird species seen here in July was 66, the best July total since the 69 species of July 2016.