Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Thursday, 28 April 2016

28th April

The patch. I'd say I'd forgotten about that, but I hadn't. My time in Spain came at a time when spring migration was in full flow. No doubt I missed some interesting stuff, and it's taken a while to get back into full stride, but I have been able to go out and get numerous year ticks, things that no doubt turned up a while ago.

Bluebells in Great Brook today
On the Sunday before I left Matt Phelps had a Cuckoo singing near Slade's Farm, on the exact same day the first was was singing last year. I had no joy, though I bagged an early Garden Warbler, my last year tick before I left. I made a couple of quick trips in the days I was back, but the 25th was my first full session (over a fortnight!) and I was welcomed back by a long overdue Wheatear (A female on Allden's Hill, where I haven't had one before), a/the singing Cuckoo and a couple of male Whitethroats. Lovely stuff, 3 years ticks, and I was getting worried about Wheatear, a bird I'd had 5 of by the 16th of last April.

The next day the Cuckoo was at it again, along with a Garden Warbler and a few Whitethroats and Blackcaps. The highlight, however, was a distant Grey Partridge in Thorncombe Park (seen from the Ridge). These birds have baffled me since I saw them for the first time in March, as they have seemingly stuck around, and neither gamekeeper admits releasing them. They are very elusive, and when I've stumbled across them they fly to cover quickly. It would be one hell of a surprise, and a fine record, if they stay and breed.

Yesterday was quiet, but I planned to spend a few hours looking for stuff in the afternoon today, after a trip to Selsey Bill for a seawatch. Last week looked like it was thrilling down there, a few Pomarine Skuas flying close in along with lots of other movement, including my bogey bird, Balearic Shearwater. I knew the weather wasn't ideal today but still went for it, and a quiet watch was tempered by glorious sun, 23 close in Little Terns and a single Great Skua.

Back in Surrey, and on the patch, I reverted from type and decided to concentrate my efforts around Scotsland Farm/Great Brook, and walk to Bonhurst via Wintershall. It proved a good decision. A Blackcap and a Garden Warbler were singing opposite Scotsland, and the Bluebells in Great Brook looked wonderful. Between here and Bonhurst I noted 2 singing Firecrests, though they didn't show themselves. As I was walking past the cottages in the Wintershall estate I stopped to watch some House Sparrows, when I noticed a bird out of the corner of my eye.
Red-legged Partridges are doing very well this year

I looked up, and was amazed to see 2 Terns, 2 Common Terns! The lead bird called as they flew directly west, though at no great height, presumably having either been fishing at the Wintsershall and Graffham ponds, or dropping down to inspect them. What a record, my first Common Terns here, and only the second known site record. Interestingly, Robin Stride had 2 at Willinghurst fishery, just 4.5 miles to the east, 2 days ago, and I reckon these were the same birds. Where they have come from, or where they're nesting, is another question, but birds breed at Stoke Lake in Guildford and Marsh Farm in Milford.

This was enough to make my day, a bird I always hoped to get, maybe over Mill Pond or Bramley Park Lake, but not one I expected here. And how weird that a day watching 3 species of Terns on the sea would lead to 2 over the patch. Elsewhere I found more Whitethroats and Blackcaps, and was pleased to note nesting Linnets and Buzzards. Red-legged Partridge numbers continue to be high - no less than 11 today. Swift, Spotted Flycatcher and Hobby offer the last 'expected' birds, really, though Lesser Whitethroat is one I surely must get, and remarkably it remains off my Thorncombe Street list.