Spring Bird Count Day produces large godwit flock

Perhaps because of the cold, wet weather, the Spring Bird Count on 28th April 2018 failed to produce a record-breaking total number of species. But it certainly had its moments.

*DSCN8408 Blkwit
Some of the Black-tailed Godwit seen on Spring Bird Count Day

The best find, at sunrise, was a flock of 53 Black-tailed Godwit discovered by Andrew Self, who had been ranging the site since before dawn. It was the largest flock ever seen at Brent Reservoir, eclipsing the previous record of 36 seen on 29th April 1985.

Three other early-birders also managed to clock the flock. But the birds took to the air at 06:41 when they were disturbed by several Mute Swan moving in among them. After circling the reservoir a couple of times, the Blackwit flock flew off west, disappearing past Wembley stadium.

*DSCN8420 YWag
Three of the four Yellow Wagtail encountered on Bird Count Day

Other interesting birds included a White Wagtail that settled briefly on one of the rafts plus a group of four Yellow Wagtail. Unusually for this passage migrant, the Yellow Wagtail lingered for several hours on the mud and rafts and were seen by a number of Brent Birders. 

Another migrant that is nowadays rare locally is Cuckoo. At noon one flew across the reservoir in front of the main hide but was only seen by a couple of birders, even though about 10 people were in the hide at the time. (During the 2017 Spring Bird Count a male cuckoo spent much of the day at the site and was seen and heard by many visitors.) 

Throughout the day, many Swallow — more than 100 — were seen hawking over the reservoir, accompanied by smaller numbers of House Martin and Sand Martin. Some 80 Swift also passed through the site. 

Apart from the godwits, waders seen during the day included two or three each of Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Common Snipe. Larids included five late Black-headed Gull and six early Common Tern.

Among the many warblers heard singing were early Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

In all, 71 species were recorded by mid-afternoon. But early the next morning, Andrew Self found three species we had looked for on Bird Count Day but failed to record — Greylag, Wheatear and Sedge Warbler.

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