Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Monday, 29 February 2016

29th February

The last day of February. March, to me, is the start of Spring, and it really won't be long until Swallows and Wheatears will be added to patch lists across the country. It very much felt like the back end of winter, despite the recent cold temperatures, with Rowe Barn Farm akin to the departures lounge of an airport late this afternoon.

Winter Thrush numbers have been building for the last couple of weeks (80+ Fieldfare around Upper Bonhurst on Friday), and the fields at Rowe Barn and Slade's Farm were littered with Redwings today. There were at least 180 around, quietly chattering to themselves whist feeding on the ground, filling up before the big movement north. Joining the Redwings were other species either en route to or preparing to set off to northern breeding grounds. A flock of about 20 Starlings were flitting around the fields, a higher than usual number of Blackbirds, Song and Mistle Thrushes, and at least 2 Meadow Pipits, the latter very much a passage migrant here, and only my second 2016 record.
The north-facing sacrificial crop on the Ridge - currently
 hosting hundreds of Finches and Buntings

The mixed Finch/Bunting flock on the Ridge continues to get bigger and bigger. I noticed a few Linnets today, oddly scarce so far this winter, as well as at least 22 Bramblings and 30+ Goldfinches. As I arrived at the top I flushed about 60 birds up from the north facing crop, and a noticeably pale bird caught my eye as it joined the others in flying to the top of a nearby Ash.

Snow Bunting first came to mind, but I couldn't relocate the individual initially. However, as soon as I picked up a Lesser Redpoll high in the branches, I found it - another, paler Redpoll slightly further up to the left. The plumage tone was different, but that was just about all I could manage before most of the birds, including the Redpolls, flew off to the east. Interestingly, I've only had 1 Lesser Redpoll all year

One that got away perhaps, though I'm not sure I could be fully confident in ID-ing a Mealy unless I had good views of one with Lessers. Who knows, maybe it's scheduled departure isn't just yet, and I'll re-find it?