Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Monday, 9 April 2018

Timely Anniversary

Cattle Egrets, Leg-of-Mutton Copse, 9/4/2017
Well, every year is different isn’t it? On 9th April 2017, under vivid blue skies, a warm southerly airflow gently coasted up the country, with temperatures reaching 25 celsius. Just after 09:00, having decided to walk Juniper Hill and Leg-of-Mutton Copse, two dazzling white birds caught my eye, flying north over the pen stretch of path that looks towards Hascombe.

To my astonishment, they were two Cattle Egrets. Looking out the window of the office today, with mist and rain coming down, it feels like a very different spring. It was however, at the time, a stark reminder that one can’t give up on the patch, and that persistence does pay off - much like this year, things had been slow going until that epic moment.

As it stands it’s my number one find here, with the record recently accepted by the Surrey Bird Club Rarities Committee as the third-ever county Cattle Egrets, and the only occasion when more than 1 bird has occurred together. It must be mentioned that, should it be accepted (it’s still in circulation), the 2016 Monty’s would probably eclipse them…

Anyway, during such slow times on patch it’s a nice reminder to keep at it. I did finally get a first patch Swallow of the year on Saturday, with an individual over Allden’s Hill early on followed by another at Mill Pond a little later. Abel then had a small flock over Allden’s Hill in the afternoon. Nice, but there’s no ignoring that the 7th is the latest ever arrival date (by 3 days) for Swallows here.

A real thrash of the site on Saturday didn’t really produce much, bar the Swallows, with only a handful of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in voice. A singing Brambling and a few Hawfinches lifted the mood, but really it was a slow and disappointing weekend (full sightings here). With Thursday and Friday bathed in glorious sunshine, and decent birds turning up across the county, frustration can’t be avoided.
Swallow, Mill Pond, 7/4/2018

Some hope lies in my new noc-mig project. After a false start last week, an 8-hour recording over Friday night/Saturday morning intrigued. A Snipe flew over at 02:51 (rare here), and a Barn Owl was heard a few times around a similar time. There were also some Moorhens and Mallards on the move, and I honestly can’t wait to give it another go this week.

If the daytime birding is slow, then perhaps nocmig will prove to be my spring salvation?