Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Monday, 12 June 2017

9th-12th June

Since Bulgaria, I’ve managed just a handful of brief visits to the patch. Despite being June, ducks have taken much of the limelight, with Florence the Red-crested Pochard present again on Mill Pond on Friday, along with the eclipse drake Gadwall. A bigger surprise today came via a male Shoveler at the same site - a very out of season record, with no previous sightings of this species in the period from March until late August! Presumably, this bird was a failed breeder, and likely a second-year individual.
Florence at Mill Pond, 9/6/2017.

The highlight of the past few days, however, was the finding of a family party of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, which included 2 seemingly very recently fledged birds. The group was feeding silently, high up in the canopy, and only a vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker nearby brought them to my attention. It’s pretty certain this was the pair noted from February to April, and I’m delighted they were successful, particularly given how ridiculously elusive they became during the last couple of months. Unfortunately, despite extensive efforts by both myself and Gerry H, the actual nest was never found, and at one stage it was feared the birds had abandoned. Coupled with the steep decline of this bird nationally, it comes as a very pleasing record, and I can only hope the success is repeated in 2018.

Spotted Flycatchers have been somewhat slow coming in this year, but most pairs are now back on territory. The Selhurst Common birds have moved from the ivy-clad wall of one house to another, (showing well today), and the Phillimore site is occupied again. Elsewhere, it was very quiet, with the feeling of a sleepy summer day. Indeed, if anything, the Shoveler record points towards the arrival of autumn, and in a few weeks certain species will begin to move south. July has seen a few good bits before, including a Marsh Harrier and a flock of Whimbrel in 2015.

On Saturday, Matt P and I indulged in a thoroughly enjoyable twitch of the Elegant Tern at Pagham Harbour. Positioned on Hayling Island in the morning, we were quick to act when news broke of the birds reappearance at Church Norton, and we ended up enjoying pretty good views of the individual previously ringed at Banc d’Arguin, France (a site I visited last summer).

Red-footed Falcon, Frensham Common, 10/6/2017
Before we set off for the south coast we’d managed to squeeze in a look at the mighty-fine 1st-summer male Red-footed Falcon at Frensham Common, which somewhat surprisingly represented the first twitchable Surrey record of this species, after brief birds at Ranmore Common, Unstead Sewage Farm and Winterfold in the past 25 or so years. The individual was the latest off the Shaun P conveyer belt of excellent finds, with the long-staying Long-tailed Duck causing Surrey listers to twitch this far south-western part of the county only a few months back. The bird was his 203rd at Frensham, out of a historical total of around 230 (I can’t remember the exact figure he told me!).

The bird drew a big crowd, and continues to do so up until today at least, when it was present for its 3rd day. No doubt my Rosefinch at the start of the month would have brought people to Thorncombe Street – the all too fleeting nature of that bird still grates, and probably will do so for some time, or until I can avenge it with a find that sticks.