Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Thursday, 23 March 2017

23rd March

Today represented a last opportunity to bag an early spring migrant, or finally nail Pochard this year, before I head off for a week's birthday holiday in Spain and Morocco. What was a rather quiet session ended with a massive surprise, in the shape of a Kittiwake, a new bird for the recording area and the fulfillment of my long-time dream of finding a seabird on patch (see here and here). An astonishing sight, as it journeyed north over the mixed woods at the extreme south of the area, the species becomes the 144th bird recorded here, my 129th, and number 89 for 2017, which is proving very fruitful thus far.

Kittiwake sighting map (click to enlarge)
I woke to rain, and the constant rather forceful north-easterly made for a morning more like Janaury than late March, but the skies began to brighten slightly as I, yet again, did a Winkworth check without any Pochard. I am now relying on chancing upon a bird later in the year, as the optimum time for this species will be gone by the time I am back. Numerous Chiffchaffs were one of few indicators of the season, though a surprising number of raptors were already up, and by the time I'd looped the patch Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Red Kite had already been noted. In the wind, Woodpecker activity was at a premium, and I expect it to continue to get harder to locate the Lesser Spotted pair. This was was the case today, despite a brief check by myself and an extensive one by Gerry Hinchon.

With numbers already looking good, and the possibility a northerly headwind sending something extra special over, I set up shop at one of my vantages in the south of the patch. On the way, two Lapwings flew south, only my third birds this year and the first flyovers. The regular Skylark was in occasional voice, despite the wind, and a few Marsh Tits were calling. Raptor numbers were steady, and I notched up a good tally of birds, but in truth little was happening, and there certainly seemed to be no passerine movement (0 Meadow Pipits compared to 31 on Tuesday). After just over an hour I decided to head home, and finish off a few pre-holiday chores.

Not long after I got back on the main footpath that runs from New Barn to Thorncombe Street, I noticed a small, slender gull heading fairly low north. As I was beneath it, I could only note the particularly buoyant and active flight as it made it's way between the footpath and Juniper Hill, always below the canopy. With my views obscured by the hedgerow, and as the flight and structure began to click, I sprinted up a raised bank on my right in order to get a view of this quickly moving individual. As I got back on the bird it had gained a bit of height (it was remarkably low when I first saw it, upon reflection), but it banked to the east, before circling a number of times, gaining height and continuing north. This change of direction offered me good views of the grey upperwings, that faded somewhat towards the typical jet-black primary tips of a Kittiwake! There were no mirrors on the primaries, though the flight style and structure already had me fairly assured. An exceptional moment, and the bird was lost heading north.

Red Kite on the 21st
It would have flown over Wintershall and Bonhurst, probably connecting with the Wey near Shalford. I messaged Gerry, who was on the patch, but unfortunately for him he was deep in a wood (2 Woodcocks flushed his consolation), and couldn't look at any sky. The bird was so out of context I was a little bit stunned at first, and tried to make it a Common Gull, but it clearly wasn't. This species is the most numerous winter Gull here, but their numbers have tailed off in recent weeks, and indeed I've seen none for over a 7 days. As the day went on, a Kittiwake was seen in London, and a conversation with Matt made me realise this was actually more likely than I thought, with the weather and time of year all perfect. Furthermore, Jeremy Gates had an adult go west over Crooksbury Common on Saturday. Right place, right time, and a bird I will be very lucky to see here again!

Brian Milton was among the other people I messaged, and despite Unstead being slightly to the west I desperately hoped he saw it, as it's one of the few species he is yet to see there that's on the historical list. Unfortunately, he hadn't, but when I stopped off briefly we enjoyed both of our first Sand Martins of the year over the works. Interestingly, he had not seen any Gulls all day. Later on at home, I noticed 2 Great Black-backed Gulls battling north. Clearly, there was some kind of seabird movement. I very much doubt I will have another day in Surrey when Great Black-backed and Kittiwake are the only Gulls I see in one day!

Since my last post, a Woodcock flushed in Furze Field on the 15th was only the third bird, and second record, of 2017 (until Gerry's pair today). I finally caught up with Kingfisher for the year on the 16th, with a bird calling in the fog at Winkworth. A second bird was then seen at the same place 3 days later. Also on the 16th were notable numbers of Fieldfare, Lesser Redpoll and Redwing, with a Crossbill present at Juniper Hill. A site record 14 Ravens were also tallied throughout the entire recording area.

I love this time of year, and it's hard to pull myself away from the any-time-soon arrival of Hirundines, the scouring of fields for Wheatears, and monitoring the state of the local breeders, new and old. The local area seems to be on a good run too, with Matt finding a fantastic pair of Garganey at Shalford on Monday, that are still present today. However, Morocco has long been top of my wishlist of places to bird, and this time next week I aim to be celebrating my birthday in the Sahara, hopefully surrounded by Desert Sparrows and Crowned Sandgrouse!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

8-14th March

It's been a mixed week since my last post, with a couple of year ticks and fantastic moments with certain species balanced out by a few frustrating moments. The 2017 additions came on the same day, the 11th, when I managed to chalk up Blackcap and Great Black-backed Gull, taking me to 87. The former was an early singing bird near Rowe Barn Farm, over 2 weeks before the first of 2016, which Sam Jones and I had on March 28th of last year. The Gulls came shortly after on the Ridge, with a 2nd-winter and an adult south and south-east at 16:41 and 16:52 respectively.
Drake Mandarin checking trees for possible nest sites

For the Gull, March passage is the best time to see them here, though there were only 2 records during the whole of 2016. This has already been more than doubled this year, with another 3 today, including 2 hefty adults north over Allden's Hill during a 06:40-08:00 vis-mig session that was coordinated with Matt Phelps, who was out on his Shalford patch. He managed to pick up one of the Gulls, but didn't seem to match the first high (ish) tally of Meadow Pipits of the year here - 18 the total by the end of the day, with 10 of those during the vis-mig. Further signs of spring include a marked increase in Chiffchaffs and Firecrests, as well as big numbers of raptors, including the second Peregrine of 2017 (W over Bonhurst today) and at least 30 Buzzards. I also managed a double-digit count of Ravens, including an unkindness of 6 at one point.

Winter Thrushes are vanishing, and since my astonishing count of Redwings last week I have had very few. At a failed Barn Owl recce last night, the aforementioned species and Fieldfares could be heard on their migration back north. Woodpeckers too are becoming harder to find, with a lot less drumming noted. The Lesser Spotted pair seem settled, and a few more Surrey birders were able to enjoy them this week, despite much more elusive behaviour from both the male and female. Skylarks also seem to be content, with singing still taking place in the south of the patch, leaving me hopeful of the first recorded breeding since 2007.

One of the many Ravens today
As I mentioned earlier, these positive moments have been tempered by some frustrating ones. The most strange omission is the lack of any Pochards this year. Whilst never present in big numbers, birds are regular at Winkworth from late February to early April, and often number a few individuals. Indeed, for the past 2 years, the peak yearly counts have taken place on this very date, but I am still yet to see one, despite checking Rowe's Flashe pretty much daily. I will persevere. Kingfisher still eludes me, but I am confident of eventually chancing upon one, and I shall save Brambling until the next winter period.

Another moment that will sit in my mind for a bit was a missed, possible patch mega, or indeed 3 of them, which flew high south over Rowe's Flashe as Matt and I did the WeBS count on Sunday. The birds were big, long-necked ducks, and looked very good for Shelduck. Unfortunately they were miles away, and soon lost to view, but we'd ruled out any Geese species and Mallard before they vanished. There is one record of Shelduck, a bird on Mill Pond in the 1970's or 80's (Bird of Surrey). A sighting reminiscent of our probable Bewick's Swan in 2015, but both encouragement and a reminder that anything is possible here!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

7th March

An excellent, early spring session on the patch today, with a mighty fine year tick, a spectacular migration movement and a good catch up with Robin Stride. I was on Allden's Hill at dawn (passing a Little Owl and 2 Egyptian Geese in Thorncombe Park en route), but passerine activity was pretty dead for the first hour or so, with 2 separate Meadow Pipits north the only movement. A few Herring Gulls and a sole Lesser Black-backed Gull, were moving south and west, but this average activity was dramatically overshadowed at about 07:30.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on the 2nd (M Elsoffer)

Looking almost over my shoulder to the south-west, I noted what initially had the feel of a big skein of Geese moving north-east. Raising bins to them, it became apparent they were Thrushes, in fact Redwings (with a sole Woodpigeon!), moving in a tight flock much like flushed waders or a Starling murmuration. Despite having never seen Thrushes in flocks like this, the most remarkable aspect was the number of birds - from above my head all the way to the horizon was a dark stream of Redwings, certainly a few thousand. It was simply incredible, and one of the most remarkable bird movements I have witnessed. At the time, I used the Steve Gale don't-be-too-conservative count theory, and guessed 5,000+. Upon reflection, the number may not have been that high, but with hindsight I would still say anything from 4,000-5500 birds were in this single flock. My conclusion was that these Redwings had been moving at night, pushing towards their breeding grounds in Northern Europe, and by some stroke of fortune I managed to catch them*.

I met up with Robin at about 8, and we headed to the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. Rob hadn't seen any in the county for many years, and so we were delighted to pin down the male, who showed moderately well. The female was heard, but not seen. I have shown a small group of birding friends this pair in the past week, and Mark Elsoffer and Steve Minhinnick enjoyed particularly good views on the 2nd. There wasn't loads else here, though a few Cormorants flew overhead, and by the end of today 16 were tallied (6 seen by Robin), surpassing the site record of 13.

The view from Allden's Hill this afternoon
From here, we checked out Bonhurst, before the increasingly pleasant weather lead us to do some sky-watching. This proved very productive, with raptors everywhere, as well as my first 2 singing Skylarks of 2017. At least 20 Buzzards were up and many displaying, with several Red Kites and a few Sparrowhawks also about. 4 Ravens were doing their thing too, but the highlight, and surprise (despite me calling it to Robin earlier in the day!) was a Goshawk at 10:10, that gave brief initial views, though it's range allowed both of us to be happy with ID. What was probably the same bird was seen again at 11:00. Many Redpoll were also about, and after waiting an hour or so for the Gos to reappear without joy, we parted company.

I stopped at Allden's Hill for an hour or so afterwards, enjoying the now glorious weather, before heading home. I returned late in the day in an attempt to get either Kingfisher or Pochard for the year at the water bodies, managing neither, though nice views of a Firecrest were obtained near Bramley Park Lake.

* Following this post, I had an interesting chat with the aforementioned Steve Gale. He thinks the birds could have just left a roost, which is something I hadn't thought of, and seems likely.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

26th February

I have 3 'easy' winter targets left for my year list challenge of 120- Brambling, Pochard and Kingfisher. The former is seemingly non-existent this winter, the latter always pretty scarce and the duck is normally relatively straightforward from late February to late March. I managed none this weekend, in what was a largely quiet couple of days. Whilst not especially cold, the weather was fairly miserable, and a rare day off on Saturday was blighted by a rather brisk wind, heavy cloud and patches of drizzle.
The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker today

Despite the forecast, I set out for first light on Saturday, but returned home several hours later with a pretty average list of birds, dotted with a couple of stand-outs and a couple of oddities. The weirdness began at Rowe's Flashe, where a sole Bar-headed Goose was sat on the water, along with the regular species. Evidently it wasn't resting after a long slog over the Himalayas, and more likely a roving escapee. It's coming up to optimum Pochard time here, but 8 Tufted Ducks were the best I could manage. The grey conditions meant birdsong was at a premium, so it was back to the car and onward.

It didn't take long to locate the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker pair, with the male showing moderately well despite the weather. However, at least 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was also in the area, and it will be interesting to see if they can hold fort for the next few weeks. A vocal Green Woodpecker completed the resident British Woodpecker list in the space of a few minutes. A circuit of the patch, followed by a sprint up the Ridge didn't produce much, although a 1st-winter Lesser Black-backed Gull among a flock of 60+ Herring Gulls flying north-east was a third record of 2017.

With none of my targets seen at their likely sites, I decided I may as well fill the rest of my time exploring the couple of small footpaths I have visited just once or twice, way out in the east of my patch. As anticipated, they delivered nothing mind-blowing, although one private pond held a pair of Black Swans, and 20+ Mandarin, 2 Teal and a couple of Marsh Tits firing their lasers where at another water body nearby (which was more akin to a swamp).
One of the Black Swans from Saturday

On Sunday morning I met up with Matt, for an hour or so before work. In slightly better conditions one of the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers showed well, and we enjoyed prolonged views of the male drumming, with Matt managing some footage. It flew off to the east, but was clearly back in it's usual haunt later in the morning, as Tice's Meadow birder Rich Seargent managed to eventually connect with the bird.

During the week, a thoroughly interesting exchange with Peter Osborn almost added a new bird to the Thorncombe Street area historical list. Peter does the BBS square survey in the middle of my patch, and we discussed the more standout records throughout the data. Goosander was the species that jumped out (a bird I have long anticipated on one of the ponds), but with the date being the 11th June 2003, near some woodland, it seems extremely unlikely. So, I have chosen to leave it off the list. Other interesting stuff includes a Tree Pipit at Wintershall on 24th April 2004, which becomes the first site record (replacing my flyover last September) and the sad decline of Skylarks, which were recorded regally until 2007.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

18th February

For the last few springs, I've tried largely in vain to find Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers on my patch. Indeed, the previous 2 years yielded just 3 records for me - 2 winter birds (1/1/2015 and 24/12/2016) and a very late drumming individual on 3/5/2016. It's worth noting that Matt Phelps had one at Winkworth last April that wasn't relocated. However, with the large tracts of incredibly suitable habitat that exist on my patch, I have been both surprised and very disheartened to always draw blanks, especially given the groundwork I put in for this particular species. That was, until this morning.
The best picture I got this morning

When I say "tried in vain", emphasis is on the tried. From the start of February to mid-April, for the last few years, I have extensively walked through the best looking areas, using my '1 drumming, 1 call' play-back technique. I have got nowhere, left wondering where these fleeting winter individuals come from. Anyway, I was at it again this morning, squeezing in a session before work. Having failed at previous places, I arrived at one site and played the drumming call on my speaker. Almost straight away, a bird responded, and it sounded good for Lesser Spotted. It wasn't long before I heard that distinctive call, and after a nervy few minutes a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew in, and landed extremely close to me. I was delighted - this species is suffering a horrendous decline, and they are seemingly very thin on the ground in Surrey these days (though I believe they are there to be found, there just aren't enough people looking). I enjoyed fantastic views (best for 15+ years!), and then the bird flew off.

The drumming picked up again further away, but as I began to try and relocate the individual another bird flew across my line of vision, and landed in a separate tree. I got it in the bins, and with the drumming still going on it was clear I had a pair! I was pretty excited, and figured that given everyone wants a photo these days, reached for the camera. After a lengthy spell of cat and mouse in the tree tops, I managed a couple of woeful shots. I enjoyed the moment - I had never seen more than one Lesser Spotted Woodpecker before, and I eventually tracked down the drumming, which resulted in the discovery of some very good looking holes.
No photography prizes here

So, potentially, a pair of prospective breeders, right here on my patch. I am going to monitor the situation as much as I can over the coming weeks. Interestingly, I rarely note Great Spotted Woodpeckers here, but did have an individual come down and investigate my call-playing last week. Should they stick around, they will be additions to the fine list of rare breeding birds in my recording area. Furthermore, it brings me to 84 for the patch year list, a figure normally reached until early April!

Elsewhere today, a Little Egret coming into summer plumage was present at Bramley Park Lake early on, though it departed north. Yesterday a staggering 94 Greylag Geese were on the site, including a flock of 79 at Gatestreet Farm. Birdsong is getting louder by the day - spring is coming.

Monday, 13 February 2017

13th February

Having been away, and ill before that, today was my first opportunity to enjoy some quality patch time in a couple of weeks, and it proved to be a very productive and enjoyable session. With the forecast for clear skies and sunshine I figured a sky-watch would be my best bet, as I hoped to get Brambling or Peregrine on my year list, and I found myself on Allden's Hill for no less than 4 hours from 08:15.

The Curlew that flew N at 08:33 (2nd site record)
With Mill Pond eerily quiet, I positioned myself in my usual spot and immediately noted the decent numbers of Common Gulls moving slowly south, with some loitering and dropping into the fields. At 08:33 what initially looked like a big, dark gull came powering north at height, in the opposite direction to all the others. The quick flight action had me going, and any thoughts that this was Cormorant were quickly erased when I got my bins on the bird, which was clearly a large wader. Despite the distance the light was good, and it soon became clear I was looking at a Curlew! I managed a couple of pictures as it continued NNW fairly quickly, and was left in amazement as it disappeared out of sight. This is a fine sighting here (any wader is), and it's only the 2nd Curlew record for the site, after Kevin Guest and I had one calling over the same valley, heading north on 6th April 2015.

One of the 3 Sparrowhawks today
Presumably a bird heading to northern breeding grounds, the gorgeous start to the day had me feeling like it was spring, and I was pumped up for what else would appear. For the next 3 hours, it was in fact little. Gull numbers continued to be higher than normal (20+ Herring Gulls notable), and there was a few Finches moving about, including pleasing numbers of Greenfinches, 20+ Siskins and 2 Lesser Redpolls. There was to be no Brambling, with numbers massively down this winter following last seasons bumper figures. However, another year tick flew over at 11:45, this time a calling Skylark heading SE. Rare here, only recorded on passage with the odd singing bird in the south-east of the patch, this is my earliest record of this species here, and the first before March.

A small purple patch then occurred. Raptor numbers had been OK without being as spectacular as they can be, though 3 Sparrowhawks (including a displaying male) were welcome. Anyway, my hoped for Peregrine appeared distantly over the Ridge at about 12:09, being mobbed by a Carrion Crow. This species is normally only seen from February to April. At 12:15 another surprise - this time a calling Chiffchaff in the trees on top of Allden's Hill, towards Winkworth. This species does winter here, but in tiny numbers. A great session then, with 4 year ticks, taking me to 83 for 2017. A quick whiz through the rest of the area yielded little, bar a nice 3 species mixed flock of Gulls at Bonhurst.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

26th January

I have enjoyed some good individual records on my patch during the last few years, but there does seem to be a 'London Bus' day every now and again, when more than one good species occurs. October 24th 2015, May 7th and September 8th 2016 spring to mind, and it seems January 26th 2017 became one today. When I last blogged, I spoke of the spring-like feel to the air, with the sun shining and the birds singing. Today was very different - it was cold, really cold, with a biting south-easterly making it feel several more degrees below zero than it actually was. Few birds were singing, and the sun certainly wasn't out.
Absolute scenes at Mill Pond - LBB Gull and
 female Wigeon in the same frame!

I started the day with half an eye on the Pine Bunting that had recently been found in Kent, but thought I would check Mill Pond not long after dawn. Despite the recent cold spell conditions this small body of water remained unfrozen, though the amount that wasn't had become small. Teal and Mandarin numbers have shot up in correlation with the temperatures, but the larger dabblers remained in low numbers. This morning was different. Shovelers had clearly moved in, with the final count 10, and a drake Gadwall (likely the bird seen on the 13th) was also present. A few Tufted Ducks were about, but it was the increased Mallard numbers that caught my attention. Whenever 2016's Red-crested Pochard's were seen, there were good numbers of Mallards present, and they often associated with them. To my delight, she was back today, after a month and two days absence. A great year tick. I would love to know where these guys all go when they aren't on Mill Pond.

I decided to head up to the Ridge, but it was simply desolate up there. Not a single Reed Bunting was in the crops, and Red-legged Partridges were only encountered on the walk back - it seemed only Corvids were braving the temperatures. The wind up here was bitter, and after sheltering in Furze Field for a bit, I decided to head back. Whilst scanning the Corvid flock (which included two Ravens) a familiar trill came from not far above my head. I looked up, to the Starling-like silhouette of a Waxwing! Amazing! Sure, there has been one hell of an influx of these gems this winter, but until today it was a species off the Thorncombe Street list, and Waxwing thus becomes the 143rd bird recorded here, and my 128th. I followed it through my bins as it flew over Thorncombe Park and away. I guess it wasn't such a surprise, given the number around, but my patch is almost too rural for them, and there are few rowan berries and such.

The idea of staking out a rarity in Kent had massively lost it's appeal by now, and I thought I'd try and continue my fortune on the patch. Arriving at Bonhurst Farm, another surprise awaited me - 5 Lapwings in the sheep fields. This, a sure sign of cold recent weather movement, is only my third record of them on the deck here, with the second only coming last weekend. Would I find another first for the area via a Golden Plover? No, but 93 Common Gulls was a big number (140+ throughout, not far off the record count), and there were plentiful winter thrushes too. In all, a fantastic morning, enough to make a winter here. With the day ahead free, I chose to indulge in my favourite species. With a fantastic 10 Smew seen at Wraysbury yesterday I headed that way, finding only 7, but the 2 males were stunning, and I have never seen so many of this bird.

4 of the 5 Lapwings at Bonhurst today
The day surely couldn't have got better, but, it did. Figuring it'd be rude not to stop in at Mill Pond on the way home, I was amazed to find an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the ice with the Commons. I have never seen one on the deck here! I have always retained the hope that the big wintering Common flock will bring something down from the reservoirs with them (Ring-billed!), but as of yet, they haven't. This Lesser Black-backed is a good sign. Anyway, whilst I was 'scoping this bird, my jaw dropped further as I saw a duck with rich chestnut tones floating in the background. I adjusted my lens, and there was a female Wigeon! Absolutely incredible. This is another super rare here, with 4 previous records. It was truly bonkers - on this small water body, largely frozen, were 8 species of duck. I marvelled through my 'scope, watching the Gull and the Wigeon in the same view for a few minutes, before the latter disappeared into the vegetation.

All this madness leaves me on 79 for the year, a figure for the last 3 years that I haven't reached until mid-March. My goal of 120 for the year is ambitious, but it's birds like Waxwing and Wigeon that will make the difference. Looking at my chart, I still need Peregrine, Kingfisher, Brambling and Pochard for the less-difficult remaining year ticks, though none of these are easy. Best get birding...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

18th January

Today was a sunny, crisp winter's day, and I aimed to head out on the patch for the first lengthy session in a while. Such conditions did leave the slightest taste of Spring in the mouth - some Thrushes were singing, Great Spotted Woodpecker's were drumming and, for the first time in months, notable numbers of raptors were on the wing.

A Nuthatch at Winkworth this morning
Birds of prey do well on my patch. There are vast swathes of suitable breeding habitat for the 5 species that do so, and mixed too, with decent sized tracts of woodland and sheltered copses sitting next to more open hills and valleys. In my time I have seen no less than 11 species of raptor here, with 12 the historical figure (not sure I'll ever get White-tailed Eagle back!). There is a lack of suitable hunting habitat for things like Harriers and Falcons, with very few big, open and overgrown areas. Anyway, with the sun shining today decent numbers of the residents were seen, including a rather high tally of 5 Red Kites from my new-found vantage at New Barn Point.

This included a displaying pair, and they weren't the only species getting in the mood. A rather overdue year tick was Sparrowhawk, and I had a pair from the Ridge, displaying high over St Catherine's Hill. Another male later whizzed over the north facing crop, which was host to at least 1 Yellowhammer among the 20+ strong Reed Bunting flock. A Crossbill was a surprise flyover here, and there were good numbers of Red-legged Partridges around, with around 18 the final total.

Before climbing up the Ridge I'd checked out both Mill Pond and Winkworth, the former in the seemingly more and more fruitless hope of relocating the Red-crested Pochards, last seen on Christmas Eve. Most of the water was frozen, but the large party of Canada Geese were still present, with their tag-along Greylag, as well as the female Mute Swan and one of her young. Duck numbers were good - at least 65 Teal and 40 Mandarin, but there was only 1 Shoveler, and no other species bar the typical Mallards. At Winkworth, 2 Marsh Tits and a squealing Water Rail were of note.

One of the Little Owls today
Post-Ridge, I decided upon visiting Bonhurst as oppose to a full circuit of the patch, and it proved a good decision as I enjoyed 3 more Yellowhammers. Also notable was the apparent rise in Thrush numbers - plenty of Fieldfares and Redwings were actively feeding, and I located the Little Owl pair near the Res. As I headed back through Junction Field, a large and very pale Buzzard caught my eye. The thing was miles up, and travelling north. I stupidly tried to photograph it before actually taking in any ID features, and all I could make out as it got further and further away was a very pale head, breast and tail, and dark carpal patches. Surely a pale-phase Common Buzzard (I have seen one here a few times before) as oppose to a young Rough-legged! An interesting bird, and an interesting conversation with Dave Harris that followed.

After a couple of hours on the Ridge hoping this bird would reappear, I headed to New Barn Point, where movement was minor, though plenty of raptors were enjoying the thermals, including the aforementioned Red Kites. Another Marsh Tit called from near the pond, but not much else was about. One last check of Mill Pond revealed some loafing Gulls, all Black-headed and Common.