Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Friday, 25 March 2016

25th March

Birding is glorious in it's unpredictability. The last couple of days have seen a slight change in weather, and as a result the first wave of migrants have been seen in the county. Swallows, Sand Martins, Little Ringed Plovers and more have turned up, and today and Thursday I went out fully expecting to be tripping over Wheatears and batting away Hirundines. This, of course, was not the case, and I write this with no migrants on my year list (aside from 4 very overdue Chiffchaffs today, London buses and all). However, what a couple of days it has been.

Top left is a flying Grey Partridge - promise!
A standard trip yesterday morning was followed by a late sticking in of the head at Rowe Barn Farm, with light fading. I was passing through and decided to go via the patch. I'm not sure what I expected as I reached the first stile, but it wasn't for 2 clods of earth to move. I stopped in my tracks, and what a shock, 2 Grey Partridges! What on earth where they doing here? A first known site record, and truly my most bizarre moment here. I got my camera out, but the sound of it turning on made them jump (not sure they'd clocked me yet) and the first one bolted up and over the hedge, soon followed by another. I got a picture of an object flying - I swear it's a Grey Partridge!

Imagine my delight when, enthused by this, an early start today was rewarded with one of the birds again, this time flushed further up. It took off towards Slade's Farm and was lost in a hedgerow. I know that the Thorncombe Park estate doesn't release Grey Partridges, so perhaps it was Wintershall. There certainly are a heinous number of Pheasants down that end of the patch right now, but there are also records of wild Greys from nearby Loseley and Dunsfold in recent times. A mystery, and I hope they stick.

1 of 4 Lapwing over the Ridge earlier
It was an utterly glorious morning. Tiny numbers of Brambling and Yellowhammer were still present on the Ridge, and a loop to Bonhurst and back finally got my first Chiffchaff, a bird singing in Furze Field. A sky-watch from the Ridge saw plenty of raptors and corvids up, but vis-mig was not really evident, bar a brief flurry around 09:30 which saw a Meadow Pipit, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 4 Lapwing north.

A whiz around the area produced Skylark and Little Owl, before the weather tempted me into a prolonged sky-watch/sun-burn obtaining session on Allden's Hill. It was genuinely warm, the stunning view and constant presence of Buzzards (40+, seriously, including some on the move), Red Kites and Ravens allowed the obvious lack of migrants to not matter. A few Meadow Pipits and Siskin were moving, but in 4 hours there really wasn't too much. Just as I was about to set off, Matt Phelps text me, with news of a raptor going NW over Winkworth, almost directly next to where I was sitting...

About 4 minutes later, I picked up a colossal female Goshawk, directly in front of me and gaining height. It was pretty set on its journey through the valley, and she must have climbed to nearly 2,000 feet by the time she disappeared towards Guildford. Great teamwork - only my second Gos here. There is no suitable breeding habitat nearby and based on her flight, I reckon she was a migrant. A spectacular end to a luscious day, 61 species in total. No migrants, but they'll come.