Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Friday, 20 April 2018

Perhaps Dreadful Is a Bit Strong But...

Well the first period of spring is done. I’m off to Spain for a few days where, to be honest, I’m looking forward to just seeing some birds. The weather has been glorious the past couple of days but, in terms of migrant birds, it’s simply a long-awaited invitation to get on with their journeys, and not hang about. Consequently, the patch has been very quiet indeed, adding to the dreadful theme of this spring.
Common Tern, Broomy Down, 18/4/2018.

The last two morning sessions have been particularly poor, with nothing of note. In fairness the 18th was lively – the earliest ever Common Terns a highlight as they journeyed high east over Broomy Down. There’d been huge numbers moving east along the south coast the previous day, and with a strong southerly blowing overnight, perhaps their appearance wasn’t such a surprise.

The first Whitethroat of the year was also in voice on the Ridge, and a couple of Willow Warblers were singing. However, it’s been shocking for the latter this spring – just 3 birds! A Lapwing over in the evening was nice, though it failed to mask the continued poor spring.

Hirundines are still very thin on the ground, and Sand Martin now looks like a write-off until the autumn. Wheatear will seemingly be very tough too, despite most county sites having birds. By this time last year Yellow Wagtail and Garden Warbler were also in, but the most concerning absentee is Cuckoo.

Broomy Down, 18/4/2018.
A male has returned on almost the same day for the last 3 years at least, singing for a couple of weeks in April and early May from Allden’s Hill and the Ridge. There’s been no site nor sound so far this year – maybe this long-distance migrant hasn’t made it back this year? Or maybe, hopefully, he’s just been delayed by the weather. It’d be odd though, given plenty of other Surrey Cuckoos are in…

Despite this pessimism the local summer migrants are never particularly early in returning here, even in a Surrey context. However, the reality is it’s been disappointing so far, and at times a bit of a chore. As a result it’s hoped, more so than previous campaigns, than the optimum ‘last week of April/first week of May’ (much vaunted in in the birding world) will deliver this year.