Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

28th-31st May

Another muggy day, with few periods of sunshine. Pretty quiet, lots of warbler song and more young birds appearing being the main source of interest, with spring migration very much reaching its end. May has been decent, with a 82 species recorded in total, not including a very interesting sighting today.
Little Owl this morning

In a lengthy vigil from Junction Field, the lack of movement was clear, but at 13:12 my attention was drawn to a chirpy trill to the south. The call didn't click straight away, and was reminiscent of Redpoll, but after several seconds I was strongly reminded of Tree Sparrow. There was a total of 3 small, finch/sparrow/bunting shaped birds, and I noted only brown upperparts before losing them in the distance towards Blackheath.

Such a record could, at best, be considered extremely unlikely, but I have really struggled to make the call anything other than Tree Sparrow. I would have picked out Redpoll - a moderately numerous winter visitor - and it would be a lot more feasible to have this species passing over at the end of May than Tree Sparrow. For what it's worth, the birds sounded just like this and this. As far as I know there are no healthy populations in Surrey, Sussex or Hampshire, with the Dungeness birds the closest (may be wrong).

The likeliness would be higher if it was the height of migration, but even so this species doesn't move too much, even though (historically) Surrey-ringed birds have been found over 100km away. I will tussle with it more, but realistically I can't be sure they were Tree Sparrows. If I was at Beddington a couple of years ago, or in Poland a few weeks back I'd have no doubt. If anyone reading this has any suggestions, please let me know!

Elsewhere, as mentioned, there was little of note. Mandarin breeding has been very successful this year, and today there were 17 ducklings from 5 broods across the site. The Little Owl pair are very prominent at present, seemingly with hungry young to feed, and there were good numbers of both Whitethroats and Garden Warblers. Highlights as follows, and below that a quick summary of the 28th-30th:

07:40-09:10; 10:20-14:00

Mill Pond: 3 Mandarins (♂♀♀ + 10 ducklings), 2 Grey Herons and 2 Mute Swans.

Thorncombe Street: 1 Little Owl, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Red-legged Partridges, 12 Swallows and 1 Blackcap.

Winkworth Arboretum: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Tufted Duck (♂), 4 Mandarins (♂♀♀♀ + 7 ducklings), 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Grebe (+ 1 chick), 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Chiffchaffs and 5 Blackcaps.

Bonhurst Farm: 12 House Martins, 2 Linnets, 8 Swallows and 1 Blackcap.

Great Brook to New Barn loop: 3 Garden Warblers, 4 Whitethroats, 1 Skylark, 1 Marsh Tit, 1 Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk (♂), 1 Linnet, 2 Chiffchaffs and 6 Blackcaps.

Junction Field (10:55-13:50): 1 Herring Gull (NE at 12:14), 1 Whitethroat, 1 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Linnets, 14 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel (♂), 2 Blackcaps and 1 Chiffchaff. 

30th: a Common Tern was again over Bramley Park Lake, with local breeding now suspected. A Spotted Flycatcher was at Selhurst Common, and a Marsh Tit was at Winkworth, along with a family party of 4 Ravens.

29th: 3 Gadwall (2 drakes) were on Mill Pond.

28th: a Common Tern was at Bramley Park Lake, and a pair of Gadwall were on Mill Pond.