Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Saturday, 19 August 2017

13th-20th August

It looks like Saturday was the big August warbler day of 2017. At around this time of the month, for the past few years, there's been a day when a big, fat fall of Phylloscopus warblers seems to take place. In 2016 it was on the 18th, bringing a Wood Warbler to Allden's Hill, and on the 19th of this year, remarkably, the same species was recorded. Pretty outrageous numbers of Chiffchaffs - no less than 45 - were oozing out of seemingly every bit of vegetation, and at least 5 Willow Warblers were also noted.
Spotted Flycatcher, New Barn, 13/8/2017

A really busy week at work has left the patch slightly neglected, so it felt good to be checking out New Barn properly for the first time in several days on Saturday morning. The mini storm on Friday afternoon seemed to have dumped plenty of Chiffs, with the warm temperatures on the following day even enticing some into song. The stretch from the gate to New Barn held at least 35 birds, probably more, and as I approached the pond I heard a distinctive call in the hazel to my left.

Fleeting glimpses of a bird moving through the leaves weren't satisfactory, but when I moved off the path to the sunny side of the row of trees, a Wood Warbler showed itself nicely, albeit briefly, several times. Clearly this is where the insects were, and the roving group of about 15 Chiffchaffs and 2 Willow Warblers weren't wasting any time making their way north. 

The individual was heavier than the Chiffchaffs close-by, and the strong eye-stripe, and pale legs and bill showed nicely in the morning sun. As I was viewing from beneath it, the (almost entirely) white underparts stood out more than normal. Indeed, the initial, heavily pale feel to the bird recalled a Bonelli's Warbler species at first (!).

Little Owl, Bonhurst Farm, 16/8/2017
The group moved along quickly, and several attempts to re-find it in Chiffchaff flocks further up the path sadly amounted to nothing. I've long thought New Barn has held potential for certain passerines, particularly warblers, and this year it's turned up both Lesser Whitethroat and Wood Warbler. An Icterine next would be nice...

Elsewhere yesterday a Teal at Mill Pond was the first one of the autumn, and is unsurprisingly the earliest recorded returning bird. Also present, after a two month absence, was the female Red-crested Pochard, along with 2 Gadwall. An afternoon visit also produced a flyover Kingfisher.

Midweek was rather quiet, though it was pleasing to confirm the breeding success of the Bonhurst Farm Little Owls, making it the first time two pairs have bred in the recording area. Several Red-legged Partridge families were seen, typical of this time of year, and not long before the big estate releases. On the 13th, a Yellow Wagtail flew south over Junction Field, a relatively early autumn record, and only the second of 2017.