Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds


Sunday, 31 July 2022

Dried out

July has drawn to a close. From a birding point of view, the breeding season is now truly on its last legs and autumn migration is well underway – something reflected in recent field sessions. Perhaps the most notable thing while outdoors at present is how dry the land is. Water levels are super low and many plants are struggling. It's not surprising given how little rain we've had since March.

A juvenile Willow Warbler.

Friday 22nd

Thursley is in full post-breeding mode now – barely any song to be heard but plenty of juvenile birds about. It was a fairly quiet walk this morning, though a female Whinchat around Pine Island was good value. This bird, found by Dave the previous evening, is only my second July Whinchat in Surrey.


An adult and juvenile Water Rail were at Pudmore, where seven Teal were knocking about.

Saturday 23rd

A male Sparrowhawk and a Kingfisher were nice to see at the Lammas Lands this morning, where a juvenile Song Thrush was belting out song. At least 75 Swifts were over towards Farncombe – an excellent number indeed.

During a mid-afternoon walk around Hydon's Ball two Hobbies were seen hawking overhead.

Sunday 24th

It was breezy at Tuesley this morning, with a steady number of large gulls moving through as a result. These included two juveniles – a Herring Gull and, to my delight, a Yellow-legged Gull, which loitered both loitered for a few minutes before moving off east. I didn't see any Yellow-legged Gull locally last year so this was a particularly pleasing record.

A mixed group of at least 200 Swifts and hirundunes (all three species) were zipping around overhead, drawing the attention of a Hobby

Monday 25th

The smell of smoke from yesterday's devastating fire at Hankley Common wafted through the air at Thursley this morning, where I was surprised to see the female Whinchat still knocking about around Pine Island.


Two tiny Water Rail chicks were a joy to see at West Bog and presumably from a different pair to Pudmore, where an adult was present, along with a Snipe and four of the currently obligatory Teal.

Tuesday 26th

A juvenile Little Ringed Plover was at Tuesley this morning, which was grey and fresh in the north-westerly wind.

Little Ringed Plover.

I then visited Frensham Great Pond, where a summer plumage Little Egret was along the southern side. Other bits seen included Kingfisher, Reed Warbler and 30 or more Sand Martins.

Wednesday 27th

With the wind in the south-east and a light mist in the air it felt promising this morning. An Oystercatcher at Tuesley reaffirmed this belief – only my second here but an impressive third record for me in south-west Surrey this year (after single records in 2020 and 2021).


It was then onto Thursley, where I was pleased to see three Green Sandpipers at Pudmore. As I was watching them a Little Ringed Plover flew over – an unexpected but welcome third wader of the morning. A secured a long-legged species quartet when three Snipe zipped over West Bog.

Green Sandpipers and Snipe.

The rest of the walk was quiet, save the two Water Rail chicks again and a calling Bullfinch near Elstead Common.

Thursday 28th

No birding.

Friday 29th

I stuck my head in at Eashing Fields before work. There was little of note until I started heading back, when a smart juvenile Willow Warbler flicked along the fence between Top Field and The Meadow. I spent a while admiring this lemon-yellow beauty, as it carefully and silently foraged.

Willow Warbler.

This was in fact a 1 km year tick for me – my first since Hobby in early July. It’s rather sad that this species is only a passage migrant in the immediate area, and an uncommon one at that …

Saturday 30th

An eclipse drake Gadwall on Snowdenham Mill Pond this morning was my first local record since 7 May, with 36 Mandarin, a female Sparrowhawk and the female Red-crested Pochard x Mallard hybrid also about. Sadly, the Mute Swan pair seem to have lost their two cygnets.

I then headed into Thorncombe Street and walked part of the southern section around New Barn – somewhere I'd not visited for a while. The highlight was a family party of five Spotted Flycatchers around New Barn pond, calling frequently as they hunted insect prey. This is always a reliable area for this species at this time of the year. 

Spotted Flycatcher.

A Garden Warbler was nearby, with Marsh Tits heard in Scotsland Brook and Nore Hanger. At Great Brook, at least two juvenile Sparrowhawks were heard calling from within the conifer plantation.

Sunday 31st

A grey, breezy and mild morning saw another juvenile Little Ringed Plover at Tuesley – a different bird to 26th. It was otherwise quiet and, curiously, I end July without a single Common Sandpiper record.

Little Ringed Plover.

I visited Thursley afterwards, with a juvenile Peregrine rampaging around West Bog a nice surprise, it being only my second of the year here. Singles of Green Sandpiper and Lapwing were at Pudmore as well.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

The heat is on

The past 10 days have been dominated by a heatwave, with Britain ominously breaking it's record temperature in several places on Tuesday this week. A sign of summers to come for sure. It doesn't seem like any prolonged rainfall is in the forecast so second and third broods may struggle a bit, though there's no doubt it's been a good breeding season for many species, especially compared with the wet summers of 2020 and 2021.

A Sand Martin with Swallows.

Tuesday 12th

At the end of a hot, muggy day I headed out for an evening session. Tuesley was up first and a nice surprise greeted me: a fresh juvenile Mediterranean Gull. On the early side, I wonder if this bird has continental origins. Interestingly Dave had two at Walton today as well. What a smart plumage this is …

Mediterranean Gull.

I then did an hour at Thursley, notching up a measly 16 species. However, the quality was good, with the best record a most unseasonal trio of female Shoveler on Pudmore. Rare at any time of year here this goes down as an odd occurrence indeed, and only my third at the common. 


An eclipse drake Teal, a Lapwing and a flyover Hobby were also noted at Pudmore, while three young Redstarts were foraging around The Neck.

I wrapped things up at Witley Common – where it was 24°C at 10 pm – and was treated to excellent views of two pairs of Nightjar, including lots of display. A male Tawny Owl hooted away to the south as well.

Wednesday 13th

The juvenile Mediterranean Gull had indeed roosted at Tuesley but departed to the south early on this morning. An impressive number of Swallows (at least 70) were zipping around – it seems like they've had a good breeding season. A few Sand Martins were among them.

Sand Martin.

Thursday 14th

No birding.

Friday 15th

I walked along the river before work, noting an adult Marsh Tit and a juvenile Garden Warbler near Eashing Marsh.

Saturday 16th

No birding.

Sunday 17th

Sam and I headed to Sussex this morning, starting off at Chidham which has proven lucrative for me for Yellow-legged Gulls in recent summers. We had three adults in Cutmill Creek but not the hoped for juvenile. An impressive 380 Mediterranean Gulls were counted, with three Grey Partridges and two Whimbrel also noted.

(Mostly) Mediterranean Gulls.

We then birded Pagham, with Church Norton delivering three tern species (including 30 or more Littles), Greenshank and 53 Dunlin. On the Ferry Pool we scored two Common Sandpipers, three Little Ringed Plovers and 33 Black-tailed Godwits, as well as our desired juvenile Yellow-legged Gull.

It was very hot by the time we reached the North Wall, where we were surprised to see an early juvenile Black-tailed Godwit – doubtless a limosa. The bird was colour-ringed but as of yet we've failed to locate the scheme ... some 11 Cattle Egrets were knocking around Owl Copse too.

Limosa Black-tailed Godwit.

Some niceties on the scenic route home included adult and recently fledged juvenile Spotted Flycatchers near Lurgashall Mill Pond and a female Goshawk.

Spotted Flycatchers and Goshawk.

Back in Surrey, we popped in at Tuesley and were rewarded with a Common Gull – a real rarity locally between April and September and my 'earliest' ever in south-west Surrey by two days.  

Common Gull.

Monday 18th

At the end of a roasting hot day I did a short walk around Thursley, which needless to say was very quiet. That said, one of the female Shoveler was still on Pudmore, along with four Teal.

Tuesday 19th

Another ridiculously hot day and another evening trip to Thursley, this time with Dave. A summer plumage Redshank was a lovely surprise at Pudmore, though it was typically skittish and didn’t hang around long. Only my second ever here, but both have been these month.


Wednesday 20th

Three Green Sandpipers – my first of the autumn – were at Tuesley this morning, which was refreshingly cooler after the last couple of days. At least 75 Swallows were noted as well.

Green Sandpipers.

Thursday 21st

The first Shackleford ringing session of the autumn took place this morning and there was some relative quality among the 40 species logged, not least three Crossbills that flew high east. A really unlikely record – not just because of the incongruous setting (it's not exactly an arable farmland species!) but the fact they've been so thin on the ground this year, with this only my fourth record of 2022. A sign of a good autumn and winter for them, perhaps?

A Lapwing over was also notable – sadly only my third record here this year, with Shackleford one of a shocking count of three sites at which I've recorded this rapidly declining species in 2022. Two Little Owls, five Red-legged Partridges and 25 Skylarks were observed as well. The nets were quiet, with two juvenile Chiffchaffs highlighting. 

Juvenile Chiffchaff.

Monday, 11 July 2022

Warming up

July is often a fun time on patch, with plenty of breeding activity still taking place while the first real cogs of autumn migration begin to move. That mixture has been in evidence during this initial period of the month this year, which has largely been dominated by hot weather as a heatwave begins.

A food-carrying Reed Warbler.

Friday 1st

For the third year in a row, July began with a Redshank at Tuesley. The very end of June and first 10 days of this month is absolutely the peak time for passage in south-west Surrey, it seems. It's always a joy to see one, especially when they are in summer dress as this individual was.


I walked Enton Lakes afterwards. A mystery sleeping duck on Johnson's eventually revealed itself: a female Red-crested Pochard. A local rarity on the face of it, but this bird felt more than iffy, not least due to the apparent lack of wings (!) and slightly off plumage (I suspect some Mallard genes in there). Perhaps it was tired because it had recently undertaken an escape from Busbridge Lakes … 

Dodgy Red-crested Pochard.

Common Tern and Reed Warbler were also seen.

Saturday 2nd

My first free weekend in a while presented an opportunity for an away-day, which proved fruitful. Britain's eighth Red-tailed Shrike – and only the second since the species' split from Isabelline Shrike – proved most cooperative at Bempton Cliffs, foraging along a hedgerow.

Red-tailed Shrike.

A nice lifer, but this was eclipsed by mega views of the returning summering Black-browed Albatross – far better views than last year. The manic seabird colony and resident Tree Sparrows were great value too.

Black-browed Albatross.

On the way home, a short diversion to the impressive new Idle Washlands wetland in Nottinghamshire produced a hulk of a Caspian Tern, which has been present for some days now. A family of Mediterranean Gulls and two Ringed Plovers were also seen.

Caspian Tern.

Sunday 3rd

Two Redshank were at Tuesley this morning. The window for this species in the local area may be small, but it's certainly reliable. A Kingfisher sat on the rubber shoreline was an unusual sight to behold.

Monday 4th

One of the joys of local birding is the constant learning process. This morning, after a low-key walk around the Lammas Lands, I was most surprised to find a pair of Reed Warblers carrying food to noisy youngsters around an overgrown pool at the Phillips Memorial Park. 

There are no known breeding records of this species at this part of the Wey, where it's generally considered a rare migrant. It just shows what can go undetected right under our noses … one of the adults was bearing a metal ring, too.

Reed Warbler.

Tuesday 5th

A walk around Shalford Water Meadows this morning was quiet, with singles of Garden and Sedge Warbler in song, along with two Reed Buntings.

Wednesday 6th

An eerie post-breeding silence was in the air at Thursley Common this morning. A small group of Sand Martins over Pudmore was notable and Snipe and Water Rail were heard, but it was a slow and steady visit today.

Thursday 7th

I visited Frensham this morning, which was grey and breezy. I counted 103 Coots on the Great Pond, where three Muscovy Ducks graced the western end. The Little Pond held a Little Egret, three Common Terns and a Slowworm.

Friday 8th

A stroll at Winkworth Arboretum was enjoyable in the early morning sun, with a singing Marsh Tit in Bluebell Wood highlighting. A Kingfisher and lots of family parties of waterbirds were at Rowe's Flashe, and I found an empty Sparrowhawk nest in Wetland Walk.

Egyptian Goose and Mandarin.

After a failed breeding attempt earlier in the season, it was pleasing to see the Snowdenham Mill Pond Mute Swan pair with two young cygnets afterwards.

Saturday 9th

No birding.

Sunday 10th

A family party of Spotted Flycatchers were a welcome sight near Thorncombe Street this morning, with two adults busy feeding at least one juvenile before the heat of the day set in.

Spotted Flycatcher.

Monday 11th

A warm morning, with the temperature nearly 20°C by the time I finished my walk around the Lammas Lands. It was looking to be a quiet visit, with no sign of any Acros. I was wrapping things up on Catteshall Meadow when I heard the familiar call of an Oystercatcher overhead. I eventually got on the bird, which was bombing west along the Wey.

High-flying Oystercatcher.

It's always cool to see migration in action like this and Oyc is good value locally, averaging around two or three records a year. It was certainly a site first for me – the only previous records at the Lammas Lands were in 2020 and 1845!

Other bits of note included four Reed Buntings, a family of Whitethroats and a Kingfisher.

Reed Bunting.