|Drake Mandarin checking trees for possible nest sites|
For the Gull, March passage is the best time to see them here, though there were only 2 records during the whole of 2016. This has already been more than doubled this year, with another 3 today, including 2 hefty adults north over Allden's Hill during a 06:40-08:00 vis-mig session that was coordinated with Matt Phelps, who was out on his Shalford patch. He managed to pick up one of the Gulls, but didn't seem to match the first high (ish) tally of Meadow Pipits of the year here - 18 the total by the end of the day, with 10 of those during the vis-mig. Further signs of spring include a marked increase in Chiffchaffs and Firecrests, as well as big numbers of raptors, including the second Peregrine of 2017 (W over Bonhurst today) and at least 30 Buzzards. I also managed a double-digit count of Ravens, including an unkindness of 6 at one point.
Winter Thrushes are vanishing, and since my astonishing count of Redwings last week I have had very few. At a failed Barn Owl recce last night, the aforementioned species and Fieldfares could be heard on their migration back north. Woodpeckers too are becoming harder to find, with a lot less drumming noted. The Lesser Spotted pair seem settled, and a few more Surrey birders were able to enjoy them this week, despite much more elusive behaviour from both the male and female. Skylarks also seem to be content, with singing still taking place in the south of the patch, leaving me hopeful of the first recorded breeding since 2007.
|One of the many Ravens today|
Another moment that will sit in my mind for a bit was a missed, possible patch mega, or indeed 3 of them, which flew high south over Rowe's Flashe as Matt and I did the WeBS count on Sunday. The birds were big, long-necked ducks, and looked very good for Shelduck. Unfortunately they were miles away, and soon lost to view, but we'd ruled out any Geese species and Mallard before they vanished. There is one record of Shelduck, a bird on Mill Pond in the 1970's or 80's (Bird of Surrey). A sighting reminiscent of our probable Bewick's Swan in 2015, but both encouragement and a reminder that anything is possible here!