Your Birding Month
Five birds to find this month include Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Redstart
APRIL IS A great month for wader watching. Most European waders breed in the far north in the Arctic, where the long days give them plenty of time to feed, there is plenty of food and relatively little disturbance, especially by man. During this month (and May) there is a surge of birds heading back north to the breeding grounds. The UK provides a stopover place, to quickly feed and re-energise before continuing the rush to set up territory and breed. One species which surges through the country, particularly in the last couple of weeks of April, is the Bar-tailed Godwit. Unlike the Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwits do not breed here and are strictly passage birds (as well as winterers). ‘Barwits’ are more coastal in their habitat preferences than ‘Blackwits’, feeding on sandy and muddy shores and estuaries. But in spring, they also turn up inland, as they cross through the country on passage. Bar-tailed Godwits are among the most obviously sexually dimorphic of all the waders. Females are much bigger, with longer bills and a pale curlew-like plumage which looks like the winter plumage of both birds. Males are smaller, with finer (black) bills and, in breeding colours have deep brick red underparts, with the rufous colour stretching back behind the legs to the undertail coverts (which are white in Black-tailed Godwits). In breeding plumage they are arguably among our most handsome waders. In all plumages Bar-tailed Godwits are stockier, shorter-legged, shorter-necked birds than Black-tailed Godwits, lack the latters’ bold white wing bar and have a curlew-like white rump and lower back (and a barred tail!).