Saturday, 21 February 2015

Big Raptor Day in Surrey VC!!

The one thing I like about birding in Surrey VC is you can usually catch up with most of the rarities in a single day without travelling for hours and sitting it reams of traffic. Today I was meeting Ed who has a new patch along Thorncombe Street near Busbridge. The target species were to have good views of Red Kite, Raven and catch up with Red legged Partridge.

I picked up Ed and before we got to the end of his street news came through of the return of the Red-breasted Merganser to Pennymead lakes East Horsley. There wasn’t a great deal of discussion to be had as this was a Surrey tick for Ed and a year tick for me.  We were off to see it stopping briefly to see a Red Kite that Ed had spied from the car. There was a small delay before we got on the road again as a small hunt was departing with the local law enforcement watching on!
(Red-breasted Merganser)
The Red-breasted Merganser was very obliging on this very small lake. It seemed to have latched onto a female Goosander who barely went out of its sight. There were eighteen Goosander which was quite a sight in itself!
(Red Kite)
We were back on the road for another short drive back to Thorncombe Street. A couple of Siskin was seen by the lay-by opposite the footpath that led to the steep climb to the top of the hill. The views were spectacular from the top of the hill and the birds did not disappoint either. Raven, Red Kite, Peregrine, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, and a good few Buzzard later, I had almost forgotten what county I was in. Burpham West Sussex was the last place I saw this many raptors in one place!
(View from the top)
Thorncombe Park which is a private estate adjacent to the public footpath held numerous deer and the borders were where the Red-legged Partridge scuttled to whenever we appeared in their line of sight. The hedges and bushes were lined with Reed Bunting who would drop onto the cut corn field to feed on the seeds that had been left behind.
(And another view)
In the mean time more Surrey news had filtered through and once again we were on our toes back to the car. A field full of Redwing and two Little Owl were heard calling en route back to the car.

The next stop was Thursley Common where the ringtail Hen Harrier had been seen. The day had been fantastic but to add this bird to the list would be the icing on the cake. Ed was particularly confident we were going to see this bird which added to the buzz factor in the car during the journey.

We met Mark and Steve in Thursley car park before walking a parallel route to the main boardwalk. Another Red Kite (a Thursley tick) a Dartford Warbler and a mixed flock containing Lesser Redpoll were seen prior to arriving at the watch point.

There was a small group of birders at the watch point and the wait was on. The conditions looked good with a mix of cloud and sunny spells. Then the shout went up from Ed “Ringtail”. The bird glided in low over the SE edge of shrike hill and gave good views for around twenty five minutes. The bird was a lifer for Mark and what an obliging bird to see for his first one.
The walk back to the car was eventful with three Goosander passing overhead and then I spied a Curlew on a small island on Pudmore Pond. Could the day get any better! I quick flash of the camera later and I had spooked the bird fortunately it did not move very far but this has caused amusement amongst the group!!

What a fantastic days birding which was enhanced by twitching county rarities! The short distances between sites obviously helped. Thanks Ed for showing me around and I look forward to visiting your part of the county again! 

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