Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Thursday, 22 August 2019

Patch tick

I was delighted to add to my Thorncombe Street area list on Monday. Probably the last species on my mind when I checked in on Bonhurst Farm was Shelduck, but bizarrely there one was, hurtling towards me over the orchard at 06:49. The bird was low – doubtless it’d have been picked up if I was on a Broomy Down or Ridge vigil – and despite the unmistakable structure and plumage it took me a few seconds to clock onto what I was looking at.

Raven, The Ridge, 18/8/2019.

It may have been completing the latter leg of a night flight, dropping down an hour or so after dawn in search of a suitable wet area. There was no sign at Birtley Pond, nor Snowdenham Mill Pond or Bramley Park Lake. I suppose it could have been at Winkworth before deciding to move – the one and only previous record was of a bird during autumn 1973 (!), last seen at the arboretum by Mike Lawn (who still watches Milford and Witley Commons today), on 11 November of that year.

It’s always galling not to get an image, but I was pleased enough – 142 for the patch list (114 for the year). August delivering, as it always does … Most of the weekend I was working at Birdfair (Osprey, Great Egret and a few Swifts spied) so it was good to return to the patch with a bang.

As it’s the Wheatear/chat/wagtail time of year, many of my efforts have been at Bonhurst, but it’s flattered to deceive a little this year. The temporary absence of the cow heard may be something to do with it. And, to be fair, competing with a 2018 roll call of Black Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat and multiple Yellow Wags and Wheatears was always going to be hard …

Ravens, The Ridge, 18/8/2019.

I have had the first Yellow Wagtail of the year, mind, over the impressive looking Hurt Hill Meadows following a shower on Sunday. This area has been carefully managed by The Surrey Wildlife Trust during the last year or two and is now a lush meadow beneath a scrubby hill and aside a crop. I’ll certainly be checking it more and its former name of Lonely Field is consigned to history.

Other visits have been quiet. The Hobby young look set to fledge anytime soon. A nice surprise was a Raven family group, near a nest site that was thought to have been abandoned. It’s likely they nested deep into private land. Today I rang with Steve and we enjoyed a decent catch of 21 birds, but migrants were absent, as they were away from the nets too (save a silent pipit that flew over). After a week or so of techincal difficulties, noc-mig is now back in play: a Common Sandpiper and Tree Pipit were recorded on the night of 20th/21st.

The Bank Holiday weather could be too fine for migration, but the past two have delivered emphatically, and I’ll be out looking.

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