The first Long-tailed Duck for five years helped get the New Year off to a flying start. January also saw the first Red-crested Pochard since 2022 as well as a visit from a drake Scaup and a surprising variety of waders - including at least two Jack Snipe - for so early in the year.
The traditional scramble to maximise the list on New Year's Day saw 64 species recorded, one less than in 2023. But after this lacklustre start, additional species kept coming right to the end of the month to take January total to a very creditable 83 which is nine more than in 2022 and ten more than in 2021.
Our Barnacle Geese flock arrived back from Cheshunt on the 16th when 16 were counted roosting on No 5. They continued to be seen regularly for the rest of the month. Shelduck numbers built slowly with a maximum count of six. The freezing spell mid-month saw a very high winter count of 115 Shoveler on the 18th.
For some inexplicable reason, Wigeon - usually a regular winter visitor - gave the Wetlands a miss last January with the first record not until June. There was no such problem this month with two on the 5th, three on the 8th, seven on the 9th, five next day and a single on the 30th. It is also a mystery why Red-crested Pochard - regular, for example, on the small boating lake in nearby Finsbury Park - is such a rare visitor to the Wetlands. The one-day drake CF found on High Maynard on the 29th was the first since 2021.
The first Red Kite of the year passed over low on the 6th but otherwise birds of prey were scarce. Peregrines seemed to prefer the pylons on Walthamstow Marsh although they can be found unusually perching on the trees on the sheltered east side of No 1 island when the wind is blowing strongly from the west.
Three different Dunlin were seen this month pic @Elliott1758817
Until very recently, Jack Snipe was considered a rare bird at the Wetlands but records have become more regular in the last couple of years. This trend has continued with at least two - and probably several more - seen in January. The freezing conditions displaced birds to the reservoirs on the 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th with records from the wild flower meadow, No 4, High Maynard, Lockwood and, most regularly, East Warwick. In contrast, Common Snipe seem if anything scarcer. Although they were seen regularly after the first record on the 7th, there was not the big build-up in numbers often seen in icy conditions in the past.
The wintering Common Sandpiper was seen throughout the month with two recorded on the 16th. There was also a better than usual showing from Green Sandpipers with two on the 8th and singles on the 17th, 20th and 21st. A Redshank which landed briefly on Lockwood made it a five wader day on the 17th.