Fewer than 100 pairs of this small summer visiting duck breed in the UK, mostly in England. In summer, as with all ducks, the drakes ‘vanish’, or rather they look very like females, as they have more cryptic ‘eclipse’ feathering as a safety feature to accompany the wing moult. So, look for wandering duck-brown Garganeys (eclipse drakes, juveniles and ducks) this month. They are nearly as small as Teals and best told by the slightly larger bill, squarer head and particularly the striped face pattern.
One of the most popular of all our waders, the Wood Sandpiper is a delicate delight. August birds are most likely to be juveniles passing through on their journey southwards. Note the beautifully pale spotted-plumage, obvious supercilium (pale ‘eyebrow’) delicate build, and yellow legs. Wood Sandpipers are mainly found in freshwater, so check your local pools and pits, even if you live well inland.
A very scarce but regular relative of our Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, the Greenish Warbler is slightly larger than those two species with a strong, long supercilium (pale ‘eyebrow’), a single pale transverse wing-bar, greenish tones to the upperparts and dull legs. Most are found at coastal sites with bushes, trees, so search carefully, there.
The unique and wonderful Avocet is not a universally popular bird among some birdwatchers. This is mainly because adults can be particularly feisty and angry in defence of their youngsters, so can be a bit of a dominant, aggressive force on the breeding grounds. But surely having strong parental instincts is something to be praised… Anyhow, they are great birds and deserve a little of all of our time simply to enjoy their beauty.
In August Sedge Warblers (especially juveniles) can go on the move, leaving the reedbed of the nesting area and dispersing, even appearing in gardens, hedges (and perhaps popping into the odd garden pond as a slice of ‘home’). Juveniles are similar to adults, but are usually neater at this time of year, and have variable, fine, dark streaking on the breast.