Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Friday, 19 May 2017

16th-19th May

Dotterel at Balemore, North Uist
Back after a few days in the Highlands. The main objective was to get Pied-billed Grebe and Black Duck on my Western Palearctic list, both of which were achieved, the latter a bit harder than expected with a couple of hybrid birds thrown into the mix. Clearly the drake's been enjoying himself, and it took some care to find the right guy. Up that far, it seemed rude not to pop over to North Uist, where the density of breeding waders, stunning Machair landscape and numerous Corncrakes made for a pleasant visit. Skua passage was disappointing - the winds were all wrong, and in 5 and a 1/2 hours I managed just 3 Long-tailed and 2 Pomarine, as well as a few unidentified birds that were miles out. A male Dotterel made up for the lack of Skuas, and other good birds on the trip included Golden Eagle, Puffins, Manx Shearwaters, 'Scottish' Crossbills and Short-eared Owls.

Anyway, today it was back to the patch in the cloud and rain. I had a long list of things to do so only a short-ish visit was managed, but the persisting joy of patching, that being the perennial hope that encourages one to look, struck. I had spent most mornings from mid-February to the end of March checking Rowe's Flashe for Pochards, and remarkably drew a blank (this species is normally annual at that time of year). Anyway, this morning, one of the first birds clocked on Mill Pond was a dapper pair of Pochard, on the far north side. Excellent. I had written this bird off after failing during the optimum period, so this was fantastic, and I now sit on 104 for the year.

The Pochard pair today
These birds are very rare on Mill Pond, and all previous records have been drakes after the breeding period. The fact this is a pair is interesting, though I'll be surprised if they stick. Mill Pond was actually quite busy - 2 Grey Herons were fishing, the 4 Mandarin ducklings remain with their mum and the drake Gadwall was about. Elsewhere, a Garden Warbler was at New Barn, the male Little Owl was hunting at Bonhurst and the first Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks were heard begging from a nest near Wintershall.

A small footnote - previously, I listed schedule 1 species in the sightings log when they were not close to breeding sites (my patch is very big). From now, this will cease, and no schedule 1 birds will be put on the blog. Furthermore, any schedule 1 species that are yet to be noted this year will also be omitted, unless they are clearly not breeding here or nearby. Highlights from today as follows:


Mill Pond: 2 Pochards (♂♀), 1 Gadwall (♂), 1 Little Grebe, 4 Tufted Ducks (♂♀♂♀), 3 Mandarins ♂♂♀, plus 4 ducklings), 2 Grey Herons, 5 Mute Swans and 2 Blackcaps.

Combe Farm: 1 Buzzard, 3 Red-legged Partridges and 1 Chiffchaff.

Thorncombe Street: 3 Buzzards, 2 Swifts, 1 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap.

Scotsland Brook - Hive Field: 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Buzzards, 2 Swifts, 2 Blackcaps and 1 Chiffchaff.

Bonhurst Farm: 1 Little Owl, 3 Greylag Geese, 2 Linnets and 1 Blackcap.