Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Sunday, 31 October 2021

Dead quiet

There isn't much to report from the last nine days – it's been incredibly quiet in south-west Surrey, as it has been in practically all of Britain this autumn. The most notable records probably involve my latest British Yellow Wagtail and second-latest House Martin, both symptomatic of this out of sync year.

A late Yellow Wagtail – one of only three photos of note during the last nine days!

Saturday 23rd

No sightings today.

Sunday 24th

A Tawny Owl flew over the Billingshurst Road at Goose Green on the way to Worthing for a planned catch up with David and Matt. The rather strong southerly offered hopes of some decent seawatching action from Marine Gardens but it never materialised, with the highlights 10 or more Kittiwakes, 10 Wigeon and three Rock Pipits west, two Common Scoter east and 13 Red-breasted Merganser knocking about. A huge feeding frenzy drew in hundreds of gulls and Gannets, but nothing rarer.

On the way home, three Cattle Egrets were seen in their regular field east of Mill Road, Arundel, and 10 Lapwings were in their traditional spot east of Dunsfold Aerodrome.

Cattle Egret.

Monday 25th

Some light south-westerly passage was taking place over Thursley Common this morning, chiefly involving Starlings and Chaffinches, with at least three Bramblings detected among flocks of the latter species. Otherwise, though, it was truly quiet, with the only bits of note one Snipe at Pudmore, a squealing Water Rail at Birchy Pond and a few Lesser Redpolls.

Meeting Matt for an hour after work, I decided to show him Tuesley for the first time but didn't expect anything to be about. As a result, we were both most surprised to see a Yellow Wagtail in with the Greys and Pieds. What an incredibly late bird – my latest ever in Britain by 14 days! A fitting record for this particularly upside down and all over the place year.

Yellow Wagtail.

Tuesday 26th

Ringing at Shackleford with Steve was quiet, both in the nets and otherwise. A couple of Bramblings headed west – what a good start to the autumn it's been for this species. A House Martin flew south over the northern fields, becoming my latest ever in Surrey by four days and not far off my personal British record (28 October 2003 at Durlston CP). Bullfinch, Kestrel and two Ring-necked Parakeets were also noted, but the pièce de resistance came when – to my relative astonishment – a Kingfisher zipped silently north over the Lone Barn track. Unsurprisingly a Shackleford first!

Wednesday 27th

No sightings of note today.

Thursday 28th

It was mild, dull and breezy at Thursley this morning, which once again was terribly quiet. A Fieldfare at High Ground was a late first of the autumn for me. Meadow Pipit numbers had decreased further, as passage birds vacate the site – stark contrast to last year, when the burned ground was highly appealing to pipits, finches and buntings. A female Kestrel was at High Ground, with other arguable highlights a Collared Dove over Redstart Corner and a high count of 10 Cormorants, including seven that flew east together.

I then walked Bagmoor and Royal Commons – veritable birding wildernesses in south-west Surrey – for the first time since this date last year, strangely enough. A female Sparrowhawk and a Bullfinch were noted, while a Marsh Tit among a big mixed species flock was a good record for this area. The bird of the morning, however, came near the end of the walk – a vocal and unexpected Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which was more than enough to put a smile on my face.

Friday 29th

No sightings of note today.

Saturday 30th

It was wet and windy at Frensham Great Pond in the morning, where Pochard numbers were up to 11 and included seven drakes and a female off the hotel. A female Sparrowhawk flew over and a Little Grebe was at the west end. Conditions were similar at Snowdenham Mill Pond afterwards, where eight Shoveler, two Gadwall and an Egyptian Goose were of note.

A casual walk at Shackleford Heath mid-afternoon produced flyovers of Skylark and Siskin.

Sunday 31st

A Little Egret was on Hell Ditch at the Lammas Lands as I passed early afternoon – my first locally since the end of July. A really windy walk around the Loxhill area afterwards was virtually dead, save a small flock of Linnets in the cover crops.

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