Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Monday, 17 July 2017

13th-17th July

It remains quiet on the patch, or at least during the early morning sessions I've been managing of late. A spring largely devoid of heavy rainfall has left parts of the area seeming somewhat arid and bird-less, and on fine days it can be very quiet. However, to me there's always something to make a visit here worthwhile, whether it be on a freezing January day or a scorching July one.

Spotted Flycatcher, Selhurst Common, Sandra Palme
Perhaps one of the more popular summer crowd-pullers (by crowd I mean more than 1 person coming to look) are the relatively abundant Spotted Flycatchers. They can be found in at least 5 locations in the south of the recording area, and the showy birds at Selhurst Common were captured nicely by visiting birder Sandra Palme recently. I've put her pictures of the Flycatchers, and also of the Thorncombe Park Little Owls, in the photos section - I'll get round to updating this page properly soon.

There's been a couple of discreet heads up towards the autumn - today a Willow Warbler was calling in the upper arboretum at Winkworth, and on the 14th a couple of Siskin flew over. A feeding mass of over 100 House Martins on the same day, one which I was able to spend a few hours of on the site, was a notable count for here. My hopes of securing an autumn wader were raised when Matt P reported a Whimbrel over his work, which is about 10 miles to the north-east of here, but unfortunately I didn't connect. Earlier in the day a 2nd-year male Kestrel, seemingly in an odd moult pattern, had me racking my brains for a while. This species looks to have declined here in the last few years, despite no obvious change to the habitat.
Mind-blowing photo of the Cliffe Marsh Sandpiper

Across the dates on Mill Pond, a second Tufted Duck pair have fledged young, and the Gadwall pair have been present on a couple of occasions. One of the Little Grebe juveniles has moulted quickly into winter plumage, and looks quite odd among the summer-dressed adults. However, my main waterbird action of late came on the evening of the 13th, when an after work twitch took me to Cliffe Pools in north Kent.

The target, which was seen at great distance, was a juvenile Marsh Sandpiper. I didn't connect with this species in Poland earlier in the year so was pleased to add it to my Western Palearctic list. Clearly from an early brood and very lost, the delicate and pale individual was sadly always very far away, as my rubbish phone-scoped effort shows. I was surprised, however, that the difference between this species and Greenshank could be told from such distance.

Also at this excellent site in the mouth of the Thames, a family party of Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and Redshanks were the other waders noted. Both Sedge and Reed Warblers were in voice, a Barn Owl quartered the marsh and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was kicking about.