Another year has began and with a weekend break thrown in it was an ideal opportunity to spend some time trawling some of the Surrey VC sites in search of the rarer birds. The Red necked Grebe was the first rarity on my list having linked up with Dave Harris at QEII on New Years Day. The wind was blowing a gale up on the reservoir which had pushed the bird into the NE corner. Three Goldeneye were also added to the list.
The start to the year could not go without visits to my patch Beddington Farmlands which incidentally does not look like much of a farm these days. The most interesting sighting was a juv/1st winter Garganey which casually popped out from behind some reeds on the North end of the North lake. This bird has been seen irregularly on site for a few months now but it surprised the finder Bulldog all the same. This was an unexpected month tick for listers at the Farm!
An evening was spent at Papercourt Water Meadows after an interesting wade through patches of thick mud took me to the spot where I have seen Owls in the past. A few Stonechat were monitoring my arrival! There were birders scattered all over the large area waiting to connect with a Short eared Owl that had been present for a few days. I happened to bump into SurreyEd (who I havn’t seen for a few years) and Matt along the way. The bird did not disappoint the gathering masses but was distant flying between the lock keepers house and Woking Palace. A Barn Owl was more confiding flying and hunting from a fence-post approx fifty metres away. Up to three Little Owl were heard after dark.
Visits to Cutmill Pond and London Wetland Centre (LWC) both produced Goosander at the latter a flyby towards the river as I exited the Dulverton Hide. If only I had known that was going to happen I could have had a lie in and gone straight to the LWC!! A Bittern, three Pintail and two Stonechat, were also seen during my visit to the LWC.
Holmethorpe was to be the last stop in this mini birding bonanza! Unfortunately I could not see through the fog to locate the Smew. A slow walk along the banks of Mercers lake was not fruitful either.
Not a bad start to the year 77 species recorded in Surrey Vice County (which does not include Spelthorne and Staines Res). There are still a few regular species to include on the list as well as the Great Grey Shrike (Thursley Common), Smew (Holmethorpe), and Bearded Reedling (Beddington).
Roll on next weekend and dare I say it some cold weather to get a few more winter visitors moving around the country!!