I picked up Ed at near 7 o clock with a loose plan of spending time at his patch whilst keeping an eye on Surrey news. Our plans rapidly changed as late news had broken of another Stone Curlew that had been seen in fields bordering Fairoaks Aerodrome.
Having landed at the aerodrome a public footpath by some houses led to fields and the end of the runway. It was interesting that the footpath continued passing the end of the runway into another small wooded area. After an unsuccessful search of the fields Ed and I moved to the other side of the airfield where I had been told there was a second public footpath leading to a Common.
The chilly start to the morning soon changed with the sun beaming through the clear skies. Raptors in the form of Red Kite and Buzzard began taking advantage of the warm air. Sadly there was no Stone Curlew but we had received confirmation that the first area we had been searching was where the bird had been seen.
With the temperature rising, it was time for a raptor watch on Ed’s patch along Thorncombe Street. We spent a few hours on top of the ridge watching numerous Buzzard, Red Kite, Raven and a movement of Meadow Pipit traversing the valley. News of an Osprey over Leith Hill resulted in a change of position to the other side of the ridge. No Osprey but during the walk back down the valley a Curlew was heard in flight.
The next stop on the Surrey tour was Great Ridings Wood where Hawfinch had been reported the previous day. The walk did not produce this species but a singing Firecrest and a pair of Mandarin.
Our full days birding ended where we started at Fairoaks Aerodrome. The Stone Curlew was nowhere to be seen but enter stage left an interesting pale phase Buzzard which Ed spotted on a post beyond the runway. This bird was attempting to roost but was being hassled by corvids and moved regularly around the airfield.
I took a whole heap of pictures as this bird had me slightly baffled but I had in the back of my mind a pale phase Buzzard that had caused a stir at the Farm a week or so earlier.
Brief views of either bird could cause identification problems. See Pete Alfrey’s blog for full report on the Beddington bird.
Over twelve hours of birding had come to an end and what a fantastic day even though the prize had not been found!