Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Thursday, 2 June 2016

2nd June

2 drake Pochards on Mill Pond today
With the patch slowing into high summer recently, the arrival of a Little Bittern at Barnes WWT on Sunday had me pondering a twitch ever since, with the bird seen every day following. It would be a monstrous Surrey tick (as well as a lifer for me), with only 9 previous records, the last of those exactly 20 years ago, and just 1 day off the arrival of this bird, with a male at Epsom Common Stew Ponds from 30th May-1st June 1996. May 2016 has been truly sensational for Surrey mega's - Black-winged Stilts, Montagu's Harrier, Iberian Chiffchaff, White Stork, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Marsh Warbler, Golden Oriole and now the Bittern!

Red Kite today
So, with the day off, I traveled up to Barnes for around 10:30, and joined the crowd of about 30-40 birders looking out over the reedy channel it had been seen (and photographed) well in yesterday, albeit very briefly. However, in a fairly biting wind from 10:40-13:40 there was no sign of the bird, and as I type this it still hasn't been seen today. Perhaps the wind kept it hunkered down, perhaps it's moved on, either way I don't think I'll have another chance of a Surrey Little Bittern for quite some time. Remarkably enough, one of the 9 records prior to this bird was of a female shot on my bit at Wintershall on March 25th 1855 - the ultimate patch blocker!

I left Mark Elsoffer and Rich Horton to try and get lucky with the bird, and headed back to the patch for a quick look around. Again, it was quiet, though 2 drake Pochards on Mill Pond were very nonseasonal. Typically, they were sleeping. The Ridge and down yielded little of note, though unusually high numbers of Mistle Thrush (5), House Martins (10+) and a big post-breeding flock of 50 or so Starlings were about.

Little Egret at Long Pond Field today
I went on from here to check some former Turtle Dove sites but, again, I found nothing. A Little Egret on Long Pond Field was a nice surprise though, and another slightly out of season record today. I pondered what a shock this would have been just a couple of decades ago. Indeed, when that last Surrey Little Bittern was on Epsom Common Stew Ponds, there had been more records of them in the county than there had Little Egrets.