Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Vis stim

The autumn has been poor, locally and nationally. Over the weekend I had some decent late October bits – an elusive Ring Ouzel (first of the year) at Raggetts, a couple of Hawfinches and the first steady movement of Woodpigeons over my new favourite vismig vantage at Tilsey Farm. Not bad but not particularly fulfilling either…then again, what more exactly can an inland birder anticipate at this time of year?

Fieldfare, Tilsey Farm, 21/10/2018.

The Hawfinches shouldn’t be sniffed at. Weirdly each individual was moving in different directions, leading me to ponder if they were local, and perhaps bred in some quiet, never-visited woodland somewhere in the birding backwaters of southwest Surrey. It’ll be interesting to see how many more are recorded over the coming weeks; there’s definitely been more Surrey records than normal during the last month. By the way, if you haven’t already, check out Steve Gale’s concise summary of that invasion in Surrey last year here.

The stimulant during these quiet times is vismig. I’ll never tire of counting migrating species as the sun rises, but even this has been pretty average so far. The utter dearth of easterly winds sucks but maybe (as speculated in my last post) we’ll have a late rush of easterlies in November? It happened last year. This coming weekend looks pretty cold and breezy with northerly winds forecast (the first for a while), but on Sunday it looks like they may be arriving a little more from the northeast with a Scandinavian origin; if this sticks I’ll expect a big charge of thrushes and finches. Inevitably for the full-time working birder, however, conditions seem much better on Monday and Tuesday.

During this easterly drought it’s no surprise that the British and Irish showstoppers have almost exclusively arrived from the west to the west. Cape Clear enjoyed a Veery-Scarlet Tanager-Swainson’s Thrush hat-trick, and the UK’s second Grey Catbird near Land’s End has proven particularly popular. Depending on how much time you spend on social media you’ve probably seen loads of photos of the bird, which I was fortunate enough to be able to twitch on Thursday.

Grey Catbird, Trevescan, 18/10/2018.

North American landbirds are not even close to the radar for Surrey birders, but that’s not to say they haven’t occurred. An American Robin in Peckham is the most recent one from memory, but there’s also been Yellow-billed Cuckoo and – perhaps standout – a Common Nighthawk at Barnes Common!