The first Sanderling since 2018 were the undoubted highlights of May which also saw - for the second year running - multiple records of Cuckoo. Ringed Plover and Hobby were added as well to the year list in a month which saw some spectacular gatherings of Swifts as migrants finally arrived. The four additions take the year's total to 117, seven behind last year but more than in both 2020 (113) and 2019 (116).
Oystercatchers, like last year, were recorded regularly in May but the four together on the 19th were a high number for the Wetlands. Whimbrel were seen on the 2nd and 4th while the only record of Lapwing, which continue to be scarce this year, was on the 17th.
Sanderling are a rare wader at the Wetlands with records from just four years since 2010 and none since a single bird briefly in 2018. So the party of five - in a mix of plumages - found by AMP on the 11th caused a mini-twitch. They stayed for an hour feeding on Lockwood before departing south.
Surprisingly, there were no records of Little Ringed Plover in May which suggests that unlike last year when they were seen regularly, no birds are nesting in the surrounding area. But LB found a Ringed Plover on the 7th in poor weather on Lockwood. Just as last May, it was accompanied by two Dunlin. Single Dunlin were also seen on the 4th, 15th and 26th.
Dunlin can be very confiding at the Wetlands pics (above) @Elliott81758817 & @AMP
Common Sandpipe numbers peaked at nine on the 1st, one less than last year's highest Spring total, with the last bird being seen on the 20th which was five days earlier than in both 2021 and 2020. The final two Green Sandpipers of the Spring were seen on the 2nd.
The run of Arctic Terns continued with two more on the 2nd while good numbers of Common Terns have returned. A total of 56 were counted across the Wetlands on the 21st and breeding looks likely on both Lockwood and West Warwick.
After last year's remarkable and very welcome run of records, there were again multiple records of Cuckoo, a species which had become very rare at the Wetlands in recent decades. The first was heard on the 8th by PL before CF had two separate birds on the 9th and 10th. A very obliging male called persistently on the No 3 islands on the 14th and could still be heard next day. The final record was again of a hepatic brown type on the 27th. The Kingfishers nesting on the large No 5 island could be seen making regular trips to feed their young by the end of the month.
After a slow start, Swifts arrived back in good numbers pic @Rudraksh9
Swifts finally arrived in numbers on the 5th with counts of several hundred regularly on murky days later in the month. The House Martins also returned to their colony at the filter beds around the same time but Sand Martins - at least around Lockwood - seemed to have decreased since last year. Swallows made up for lost time with 50 passing through on the 3rd. Regular records of one or two birds at the end of the month suggesting a pair might have been prospecting again in the general area.
Despite the late Spring, breeding warblers seem to have arrived safely in the end. Singing Sedge Warblers were close to double figures - largely around the Warwicks and rail line - while three Lesser Whitethroats were on territory. Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler could be heard across the site but, unlike most years, there has still been no Garden Warbler seen or heard on the reservoirs.
It has been a good Spring for Whinchat with two more seen on the 1st. The peak count of Wheatears for May was four on the 4th - slightly down on last year's five - with the last two seen on the 14th. That was later than in 2020 and 2019 but far earlier than last year when birds were seen in both late May and mid-June. Single Yellow Wagtails were seen on the 1st and 13th with six on the 3rd, again down on the peak count of seven last year.