28 APRIL 2018 — 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.
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 see the godwits. But the flock 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 Blackwits flew off west.
Other interesting birds included a White Wagtail that settled briefly on one of the rafts and 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.
(Early the next morning, Andrew Self found three species we had looked for on Bird Count Day but had failed to record — Greylag, Wheatear and Sedge Warbler.)