Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

8th-14th November

Well, after speculation about it in a couple of previous blog posts, the annual Ring-necked Parakeet early winter dispersal reached Thorncombe Street for another year, with a single bird continuously calling from within Eastwaters on Saturday. It becomes the 121st species recorded here this year, a figure I’m extremely proud of, and despite the fruitfulness of 2017 so far I’ll be astonished if I reach 122 or beyond.

Greylag Geese, Thorncombe Park, 11/11/2017
The weekend

Ring-necked Parakeets remains extremely rare in this part of the county, with the Woking area seemingly their southern breeding limit in Surrey. However, in November and December birds seem to move about a bit, and are often recorded in places they aren’t normally found. Perhaps they’re on the hunt for well-stocked bird tables and gardens, as their regular food sources closer to London diminish? Whatever the case, in the past week birds have been seen in Farnham, Farnborough and, just a short walk to the north of my patch, Wonersh.

There was no doubting the raucous call of this bird on Saturday, as it remained out of sight in the Eastwaters part of Thorncombe Park estate. I’ve only had 2 previous records here, and in total the historic number must be something like 6 or 7. This individual was part of a fine half hour of birding at Mill Pond, which is becoming busier by the day.

An obscured Little Egret, Mill Pond, 11/11/2017
Also present in the drizzle on Saturday afternoon was a preening Little Egret, remaining remarkably hidden in the vegetation at the southern end. Still rare here (this being the 4th of 2017), this species is even more unusual actually on the deck, though the presence of secluded, vegetated ponds and a large heronry in the area may draw more in as the winter sets in. Certainly, this species is back on the River Wey water meadows locally, and I’d seen birds at both the Godalming Lammas Lands and Unstead earlier in the day.

Also of note were two Hawfinches north, and a late Chiffchaff. On Sunday I was restricted to a fairly brief visit in the morning, and checked out New Barn, which has become increasingly quiet as autumn movement ceases. However, I still managed a single Hawfinch – there’s definitely a small flock hanging out there. Later in the day I got some decent gulling in at Selsey, an educational outing which merited its own post.

8th-10th & 13th-14th

I acheived my Water Rail goal last week, with a single bird squealing in Phillimore on the 8th. Hopefully more will move in during the coming weeks. Aside from this pleasing record, Winkworth remains as disappointing as ever, and even the Hawfinches seem to have no interest in the site. The biggest total I managed last week was a group of 4 at New Barn, though a prolonged search there would surely yield many more.

Allden's Hill, 13/11/2017
As usual at this time of year, wildfowl numbers have been increasing on Mill Pond, and the cold temperatures, winds from the north and clear skies over Sunday and Monday seemed to have resulted in a spike. As a result, I’ve spent a good amount of time sifting through the birds here, and the female Red-crested Pochard was seen both today and yesterday. Of the commoner species, Teal is the most notable arrival, with the roost flock now around 16-strong. Interestingly, 2 new Mute Swans were present today, joining the long-staying female (and seemingly seeing off the juvenile).

A surprising result of spending more time at Mill Pond is the regularity of Hawfinches overhead. I’ve had flyover birds each time I’ve been there, and this morning no less than 6 went over. It’s easy to forget how remarkable this influx has been – they are literally everywhere on the patch, and I really hope they hang around and breed next year.

The week ahead 
                                   
As mentioned earlier, there's truly nothing else that could semi-predictably add to the year list. Anything new will either be utterly random, or a rarer duck species. Hopefully, with temperatures dropping, the latter could turn up, and with a lot more of a northerly origin in the wind forecast for the next few days then these chances are enhanced.

Mute Swans, Mill Pond, 11/11/2017
Interestingly, one of the hybrid Red-crested Pochard x Mallards was seen in Guildford yesterday – an example of where the roosting Mill Pond ducks spend the day. I’ll certainly be keeping a firm eye on Mill Pond until the year end.

It would be nice to get a couple more Woodcock and Water Rail records for the year, and the Ridge still needs thorough examination as various finches and buntings move in for the winter. However, otherwise there really is a feeling of a successful job done, and I can choose where I bird on the patch based on preference, as oppose to the hope/plan of finding something particular.