Sunday, 5 January 2014

A day at Holmethorpe Sand Pits

A turn around in the weather with no rain forecast until the afternoon presented the ideal opportunity to pay a visit to Holmethorpe Sand Pits. This site is maintained by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and  incorporates views of the Surrey hills a series of gravel pits, farmland a refuse tip and areas of woodland.  I have always enjoyed walking this site as there is a diverse range of habitats a good few hours are required to walk the site. Every time I visit there are improvements to the habitats and network of paths for the local residents to enjoy.
I spoke to Phantom and Ian Kehl at Water Colours establishing that there were three Smew on Mercers Lake today. I set off for Mercers keeping a count of every species I saw along the way. I scanned the far bank for the Smew but could not locate them. I walked the far side of the lake noting a Kingfisher whizz by along the edges of the lake below the path. A little owl was heard calling from the other side of the hedgerow but I could not find it. Two Smew were spied amongst Tufted Duck but I could not see the third bird.
I walked onto one of the fishing pontoons to scan the nearside of the lake. This was a tricky manoeuvre on the slippery planks some of which had been dislodged . This side of the lake has a well established tree line with plenty of area where birds can tuck themselves away from view. There it was sat out of the water on a fallen branch.
(Mercers Lake)
Next stop was Mercers Farm which is an area of fields with a modern residential area with a small paddock. A few regular species were logged here including Yellowhammer. I walked on to the next group of gravel pits Mercers West Middle Pit and Spynes Mere. The weather was beginning to close in and the rain started as I reached the furthest point from the car. Wigeon were noted on Mercers West with a couple of Snipe along the shore line.
(Water Colour and Moors)
I made my way back to Water Colours and instead of going home thought I would check out the Moors before dusk. What a good decision this was as something spooked the snipe and approximately 15 jack Snipe. I double checked as I had not seen this many Jack Snipe before! All returned to land some 40 – 50 metres from where they had risen. This species was new for me at Holmethorpe and was a fitting end to a good day in the field.
(Moors and Landfill Site)
Once back at the car I watched the c750 Corvids come into roost and an invasion of Canada Geese before heading for home. Fifty two species were recorded during my visit a reasonable total with a few expected species missing from the list.

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