Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

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.