Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

24th-28th June

Still relatively quiet on patch over the weekend and into this week, though a standout moment came late on Saturday (and again on the 26th), and a very pleasing number of Butterflies were recorded on Monday. The weather has been pretty mixed, with some recent heavy showers and windy spells, contrasting with the largely fine and sunny conditions on Monday.

White Admiral, Winkworth, 26th June
Saturday 24th

I awoke to news of a Red-backed Shrike at Thursley Common, and dragged my hungover self there at around 10:00, about an hour after it had been reported. Whilst having seen this species several times before, and not being a county lister, the idea of a short trip to watch my first Surrey Red-backed Shrike appealed. I teamed up with Rich S and Rich H, who'd arrived at a similar time, but it soon became apparent this bird wasn't going to be easy. 

Indeed, over the course of the next hour or so, we and several others managed to locate the finder, but not the bird. In fact, it wasn't seen again after the initial sighting, but classic Thursley specials like Dartford Warblers, Tree Pipits, Woodlark and a Hobby kept things interesting.

A flash through the patch afterwards revealed little, but an after-dark drive later on proved very productive. Several Tawny Owls were heard (including begging juveniles at 2 different sites), but the pièce de résistance was a beautiful Barn Owl, which flew over the road just south of Nadia's Hill. As I mentioned recently, there's been speculation from one of the gamekeepers that a pair has taken up residence at Combe Farm, not that far north from where this bird occurred. 

It's impossible to say if this was one of the alleged pair, and it's definitely true that Barn Owls are grossly unrecorded here. Whilst there isn't masses of good habitat, my return of 3 birds in the last 3 years (including this one) is dismal at best, and I will try and pin down this rumoured pair. At Selhurst Common, a striking female Common Glow-worm capped off a very enjoyable trip.

Sunday 25th

Very little of note during a quick patch visit. 30+ Mandarin on Mill Pond continue the recent large numbers here, and a Kestrel next to the A281 is significant for being one of so few seen this summer - this species has certainly declined here.

Marbled White, New Barn, 26th June
Monday 26th

This was a patch Butterfly day, and a good tally of 16 species were recorded in the sunshine. Highlights included White Admirals, Purple Hairstreaks and Silver-washed Fritillaries at Winkworth, and both Large, Essex and Small Skippers, Small Tortoiseshells and a good number of Marbled Whites at Hive Field/New Barn. Meadow Browns were everywhere, and Commas, Red Admirals, Speckled Woods, Small CoppersRinglets and Large, Small and Green-veined Whites completed the days list.

Later in the day, a brief visit to the Hambledon farmland yielded a male Yellowhammer seemingly taking food to a nest in a hedgerow, and still lots of Woodpigeons.

An evening Owl search on patch proved successful - 3 different species were recorded, including a couple of new sites with calling juvenile Tawny's and, best of all, another Barn Owl over the road. This second sighting in 3 days was not far from the Saturday bird, further south on the road towards Scotsland Farm. It now does seem likely a pair is established somewhere locally.

Tuesday 27th

A brief early morning drive through produced nothing of note.

Wednesday 28th

Another early and quick trip, with a similar list of birds. 15 Tufted Ducks on Mill Pond was a notable count, and the female and her brood of 9 were present. Interestingly it seems a female Mallard, who recently lost her only 2 ducklings, has taken it upon herself to assist the mothering of the Tufted Duck youngsters.