It’s been a strange end to June, with northerlies and easterlies bringing with them a really unseasonal volume of rain and cloud. At times it’s felt more like November than high summer. I haven’t been out loads and don’t have much to report, but it shouldn’t be too long until the first trickle of waders begin to move through as the long autumn journey commences.
A windy and occasionally wet day with no observations of note.
Two days after the Summer Solstice and there were a few hints at autumn this morning. A quick check of Tuesley early on revealed a few Swifts over the reservoir, with a Sand Martin in tow – the latter is very much a species of passage locally. An impressive nine Grey Wagtails and 16 Pied Wagtails included many juveniles.
I then did a big walk at Thursley in pleasant sunshine and a gentle northerly wind. I was surprised to encounter three Teal on Pudmore – my first-ever June record of this species in Surrey. Teal breed at Thursley just about annually but are incredibly elusive. What these birds – a drake and two females – were doing here I don’t know, but there has been an unseasonal arrival of traditionally winter ducks to Surrey these past few days in the wet north-easterlies. That said, these could feasibly be breeding here … we’ll have to see if any juveniles appear in the coming weeks.
|Female Teal at Pudmore.|
Things were otherwise fairly quiet, with the sense that the last dregs of spring were being smoked, even if decent numbers of Willow Warblers were in voice, as well as two Tree Pipits. Juvenile Robins, Redstarts, Magpies, Woodlarks and Blue and Coal Tits were being fed by adults and a Siskin flew over.
Some 35 or more Swifts quietly hawked over Pudmore, presumably some form of movers during the recent winds. A silent, second-year male Cuckoo on Ockley Common gave the impression of a southbound, departing bird (Beachy Head has already logged return migrants this week!).
|Cuckoo and Jay.|
Sadly I didn’t hear or see a Curlew. Since my last sighting on 14 June (when the adults were thought to still be tending to their one chick) there have been no reports. I feared for the youngster during the exceptionally heavy rain on Friday and I suspect it’s perished, with the adults abandoning the site. A Curlew reported at Tice’s Meadow on Monday perhaps supports this sad theory. Hopefully there is a sighting in the coming weeks, but my gut tells me it’ll be a good eight months before that evocative sound fills the Thursley air again.
Another mild and bright morning. I headed to Sidney Wood, where life was seemingly everywhere – family parties and recently fledged youngsters were logged for 12 different species and I racked up some decent counts of common woodland birds as a result (35 Blue Tits, 20 Song Thrushes, 15 Blackcaps, 18 Wrens etc). Very nice.
Among the more unusual observations was a male Hobby, vocalising often and carrying food near a suitable looking block of pines. Perhaps there was a female sitting nearby … At least three, but perhaps up to five, Spotted Flycatchers was a decent haul and included two right by the car park. Singles of Nightingale and Willow Warbler, three Bullfinches and a notably high figure of seven Marsh Tits – including a pair feeding a juvenile – were also seen, as well as a family troop of Garden Warblers.
On the way back I had a quick look at Snowdenham Mill Pond. Curiously, the Mute Swan family were nowhere to be seen. Seven Mandarin, four Tufted Duck and a Red-crested Pochard x Mallard hybrid were at the far end.
While working from home the Firecrest, first heard singing a few gardens down on 15th, was audible again from the kitchen window.
A leisurely lunchtime stroll around Chiddingfold Forest failed to produce any early Purple Emperors, though I did enjoy at least six White Admirals and my first Marbled White of the year, as well as a late Wood White and a Common Lizard. Bird activity was unsurprisingly low, though I heard a singing Spotted Flycatcher and calling Marsh Tit and saw a recently fledged juvenile Blackcap.
No observations of note today.
It felt like late November this morning – gloomy with fog, drizzle and a gentle north-easterly wind. I decided to check Tuesley and was rewarded with a site first: four Teal (two pairs) nervously swimming around the south end. You simply don’t get dabbling ducks here so, even if this was in the winter, it’d be impressive, but it’s a truly nuts record for June. I’d love to know where they’d come from …
Another wet and dull day. A pair of House Sparrows were carrying food to a nest in our gutter throughout the morning.
I was lucky enough to witness an Alpine Swift being released back into the wild at Leatherhead late morning. This bird – only the 10th for Surrey and first since 2005 – was found exhausted in Cheam on 22nd and taken into care at Wildlife Aid. I tried to arrange a public release so that lots of people could enjoy it, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. The bird took little time in flying free and, after a short circuit, powered south.
A full story with better photos than mine (and footage) will be on BirdGuides tomorrow [1 July]. The 'tickability' of a bird like this is both trivial and subjective in such circumstances but, given it occurred naturally in Surrey, I saw it in the wild and have seen the species many times before (including in Britain), then I think it makes a nice 225th addition to my vice-county list. It's just a shame more people couldn't enjoy it ...