Spring has just about run its course, but it is not time to hang up your bins, yet. There are still plenty of birds on the move, and even if they are not migrating, there are lots of birds worth watching this month. Whether they are resident species, or rare breeders or indeed birds in one of the country’s great seabird cities, there are great birds to find everywhere in June!
The Honey Buzzard fits into that dodgy category of ‘notorious beginner birds’. Their similarity to the much more abundant Buzzard means this bird, with a breeding population of fewer than 70 UK pairs, is often over-claimed by birding ‘newbies’. Your best bet for seeing one is to visit a known watchpoint such as in Norfolk or Devon.
They are Buzzard-sized with a distinctive flight style (without the shallow V glide of Buzzard) on long wings. A long, barred tail and smaller head give a different structure. Like Buzzards though, they are highly variable in plumage.
Britain’s favourite seabird is also one of the nation’s favourite birds. Cute and unmistakable, it is a great sight to see. And summer is the best time for that, as they have now returned to their breeding burrows. At some clifftop sites they can be very confiding and let you get close up views and photographs of this most charismatic of birds.
Even rarer than the Honey Buzzard as a breeding bird, with a handful of birds established in East Anglia, the elegant Spoonbill is more regular as a scarce passage bird in spring and summer, mainly around the coast.
It is larger and chunkier than the Little Egret and any view of the extraordinary bill should make ID straightforward. Spoonbills, unlike egrets, fly with the neck (and bill) outstretched. They have a reputation for sleeping most of the day, which is probably well founded, but a Spoonbill in full feeding action, sweeping with that great spatulate bill, is a great sight.
The Yellow Wagtail is a summer migrant, the Pied Wagtail an attention-seeking playground and supermarket favourite. But the Grey Wagtail is often forgotten about and yet is arguably the most attractive of the three.
The grey part of the name only refers to the back. They are lemon yellow below with a handsome black bib and a super-long tail. Look for them especially near water, including fast-flowing streams.