Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Monday, 11 March 2019

Hammer time

The quiet start to March continued during the last few, mainly wet and blustery, days. Ringing on Thursday was almost a complete damp squid until a beautiful male Yellowhammer appeared; incredibly, this was one of just two birds processed! The weekend was hindered by the weather and on Sunday, with winds reaching force seven, birding became a write-off by mid-morning.

Male Yellowhammer, Broomy Down, 7/3/2019.

Prior to that, a drizzly and unrewarding working of the patch water bodies yielded the female Red-crested Pochard (on Bramley Park Lake) as the sole standout bird, though a Kingfisher there and an Egyptian Goose pair at Winkworth were of note. Indeed, until Friday, the latter species hadn’t actually been recorded on the deck at the arboretum since 13/12/2015. On Saturday, a comprehensive walk through the central and east section of the patch was underwhelming; just 44 species, though a Yellowhammer pair – complete with singing male – was a surprise on The Ridge.

This year I’ve spent a lot more time birding other local areas. Many of these sessions have been focused on Lesser Spotted and Long-eared things with, at best, mixed results. That said, I was very excited to find a new site for the former on Saturday morning with fleeting calls and views of a male. The area wasn’t a million miles from a known territory, but likely to be entirely different birds and the habitat is ideal. Hopefully a return visit next weekend won’t be so breezy.

Rook, Bonhurst Farm, 10/3/2019.

One area I’ve given attention to is Unstead SF. On Sunday, I walked the water meadows from the sewage farm down to Broadwater Bridge and back and scored some local scarce courtesy of a ludicrously high-flying first-winter Mediterranean Gull. I was really hoping for a Kittiwake – I visited hoping there may be some gulls following the River Wey, and with a couple of inland Kittiwakes already having been logged nearby the Med, 106 Black-headed and three other gull species being blown northeast had me constantly looking up in hope.

Mediterranean Gull, Unstead Water Meadows, 10/3/2019.

Common Gull, Unstead Sewage Farm, 10/3/2019.

I’ve now had two Med Gulls along the water meadows in the last couple of months, but, after Golden Plover and Goosander fell last year, this species is probably the most obvious omission from the Thorncombe Street list. I don’t get huge numbers of gulls, but certainly enough Black-headed and Common to half-expect to have had one fly over down the years. Now is a peak time for this species moving around, demonstrated by multiple birds at other inland sites nearby (Beddington and Pulborough), so perhaps one will drift over soon.

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