Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Monday, 22 July 2019

Midsummer downtime

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks, and I haven’t got out in the field much. Indeed, the weekend just gone I didn’t once lift my bins … Visits to the patch have been quiet, though on 13th the first gull of the season flew over Winkworth – a Black-headed. It was followed shortly after by three Common Terns, my highest count here, though none stuck around for long over Rowe's Flashe, a lake that seems simply not attractive to waders, wildfowl or gulls/terns.

Common Tern, Winkworth Arboretum, 13/7/2019.

These sightings shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise, for both are breeding locally these days. In fact, they’re just up the road, at Tuesley Farm, on the private reservoir there. Per legendary local birder Eric S, this year two pairs of Common Terns raised five young on the original tern raft while a third pair raised two young on one end of the new raft. On top of that, a pair of Black-headed Gulls raised two young at the other end – away from Tice’s Meadow, perhaps the first gull breeding record in outer Surrey?

I must admit I’m a little gripped by Eric and his private reservoir. Though small, it’s lured in a wonderful selection of birds in less than a decade since it was built, including Arctic Skua, Black-necked Grebe and Sanderling. He gets regular waders and it’s just the kind of undisturbed, perfect water body that is so badly lacking locally, and one that’d make ideal patching for someone like myself who simply can’t get out in the field as much as before (which is essential for results at dry sites like Thorncombe Street).

Black-tailed Godwit, Sidlesham Ferry, 14/7/2019.

If only Unstead SF was still decent … of course it’s not, though I’ve been pleased to see Brian out and about with his bins a bit recently. Anyway, to get a waterbird fix there’s always the coast, and Pagham Harbour is one of my favourite spots. Last weekend I walked from the North Wall to Church Norton and back. A long stroll, with an impressive (for mid-July) 81 species logged, though Spotted Redshank, juvenile Cuckoo and the emergence of some 300 Gatekeepers was the best of the action.

Gatekeeper, Pagham Harbour, 14/7/2019.

I did actually enjoy a bit of local wader action over the weekend, with an Oystercatcher yelping as it flew south over the garden on Friday, in classic breezy westerlies and showers. I also had a noc-mig Whimbrel over Thorncombe Street in the small hours of 15th. On 11th, I finally added Great Egret to my Surrey list (!), with a bird at Tice’s Meadow (still there as of yesterday) taking me to 208.

Sadly, the long-term future of this wonderful site seems up in the air (see here). Great Egret was one of my remaining tart’s ticks in Surrey – others include Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Smew, Rock Pipit and, perhaps most embarrassingly, Black Tern.

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