This month sees the return movement of many birds begin in earnest and notably with the waders.  Wetland sites should expect to see an increase in Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover & Green Sandpiper numbers while a variety of other wader species are possible.  Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, and Black-tailed Godwit are likely drop-ins with a chance of something rarer.

Our duck populations’ annual moult is already underway,

the males taking on the drabber ‘eclipse’ plumage.  The first returning Teal, Shoveler and Wigeon will also be evident.  It’s worth checking the assembled wildfowl as Garganey often make an appearance but beware of the ID pitfalls as young Mallards can resemble female or eclipse males!

Along with ducks, gull numbers will be growing throughout the month with the brown juveniles beginning to appear in the flocks.  While most of these will be Herring, Lesser Black-backed or Black-headed Gulls rarer gulls such as Yellow-legged or Mediterranean Gulls may reveal themselves to the dedicated ‘larophile’.

On the land, hedgerows and scrub begin to liven up with post-breeding flocks of tits, crests and warblers foraging in small parties.  An early Redstart, Whinchat or Wheatear is possible, and July is a good month to find Spotted Flycatchers as new fledglings emerge to form noisy family parties.

If you venture to marshy scrubland or a reedbed, July is a good time to listen out for Grasshopper Warblers.  It can be easier to pick out these ‘background’ songsters on a warm evening when other birds have quietened down as they often reel through dusk and into the dark.  If you’re lucky, you might even hear a singing Quail from nearby farmland – to date no Quail have been reported yet in Herts this year (as of 28 Jun).

If your ears are sharp, a bird to listen out for are Crossbills flying over – familiarity with their “jip-jip” call is essential.  Most years a few are recorded as they make their return journey and good numbers in July may point towards a ‘crossbill winter’ when this species ‘erupts’ in search of food supplies.

With increased movement there is of course a greater chance of something rare.  Here’s few records from July over the last 10 years:


Golden Oriole – Tring (2022)

Montagu’s Harrier – Wallington (2015)

Pectoral Sandpiper – Tring (2015)

Spotted Crake – Rye Meads (2014)