1 March 2020, Dick Focks Common by John Barkham
As many as 15 trippers attended a morning’s outing to Dick Focks Common in the Effingham Forest, near East Horsley in Surrey. The weather conditions were promising to see our target species, with sunny intervals and a moderate wind. We were duly rewarded with several flight views throughout the morning from our viewpoint looking over the Forest. Other birds seen or heard included Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Red Crossbill, Chaffinch, Siskin, Goldfinch, Goldcrest and Marsh Tit. Later that morning, John Gale and Bill Ingram ventured deeper into the Forest, where they observed Hawfinch at Honeysuckle Bottom and, on their way home, 7 Goosanders at Pennymead Lake, East Horsley. In the afternoon several of the group decided to relocate to Frensham Common, where they enjoyed excellent views of a first-winter Great Grey Shrike. Also the distant call of Woodlark could be heard in the wind.
26 February 2020, Thames Towpath & Home Park by Mike White
On a bright, crisp morning with a substantial wind-chill I was joined by seven hardy souls for this Wednesday wander. The area around the Diana Fountain provided the first birds of the day, in the form of Canada Geese, Jackdaws, Starlings, Black-headed and Common Gulls. Further towards Hampton Court Gate a Treecreeper gave good views and a Green Woodpecker perched atop a brick wall. Walking through the palace grounds a Mistle Thrush was feeding on mistletoe and a Coal Tit was heard.
Joining the towpath, a Mute Swan was under Hampton Court Bridge and Mallards were dabbling on the edge of a murky and fast flowing Thames. At the Thames/Mole confluence a Great Crested Grebe appeared to have found a hunting spot in some slack water. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across the river. The trees along the Hampton Court boundary and the riverside bushes added Goldfinch, Great Tit, Long-tail Tit, Song Thrush, Goldcrest, Redwing and one member saw the only Fieldfare of the day, whilst Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over the river. A Canada Goose which flew in and landed on the river, most likely set a new water speed record as it was promptly swept back in the direction from which it had come. Entering Home Park via the towpath gate, a pair of Stock Dove were feeding in an adjacent paddock. Between Rick Pond and the Overflow Pond a Kestrel gave close views as it hovered into the wind and a small flock of Skylark were getting territorial. A pair of Tufted Duck appreciated the shelter of the Overflow Pond. The Longwater was sparsely populated with Coot, including the colour variant bird seen on an earlier visit, a Great Crested Grebe, and a small flock of Tufted Duck.
Two large flocks of gulls roosting across the water behind some trees must have numbered several hundred birds and appeared to be mostly Blackheaded Gulls. As we made our way across to the exit several Skylarks were busy feeding in the close cropped area of grass. Along the road some of the group located the only Pied Wagtail and House Sparrow of the morning.
Confirming comments made by the recorder recently regarding the lack of Chaffinches in our area not a single bird was recorded on the walk. Total species seen/heard was 43.
23 February 2020, Buchen Country Park and Warnham NR by Stephen Waters
Sunday morning was rather overcast with occasional downpours. Despite these conditions, Surbiton birders set out for a day’s outing in West Sussex. This was a first visit (at the third attempt), to a new venue for the club. We started with a circular walk around the lake and through the woods at Buchen Country Park (near Crawley). Redwings and a pair of Bullfinches feeding on the buds of willow bushes were spotted. We waited out a brief rainstorm by eating lunch in the visitor centre. The feeders outside the visitor centre attracted five species of tits and demanded some photography.
Warnham NR is just a short hop towards Horsham and the group moved here for the afternoon birding. There didn’t seem to be a great deal of ducks on the pond, so we walked between the hides around this reserve. Once again there was a great deal of action at the feeders which seem to have been carefully laid out with bird photographers in mind. In the shallows of the ponds common frogs were very evident doing what frogs do at this time of year, laying down much frog spawn.
As the light began to fade, we made our way back to Surbiton agreeing that we had spent a satisfying day out in the country. Another visit again at a different time of year hopefully might attract more, less-hardy club members.
2 February 2020, Blashford Lakes and Blackwater Arboretum by Peter Knox
Three cars left a wet Surbiton heading for Blashford with one obstacle on our way, the closure of the M3 and M27 junction. Some our group manage to navigate this problem better than others, but we all arrived by 09:45. The early arrivals had managed to see two Kingfisher and several other species.
Our group now amounted to eleven club members. So, we slowly headed to the Woodland Hide seeing couple of Goldcrests a single Redwing among other species. In the hide we had most of the usual wood land birds the best being a female Reed Bunting, but we had no Siskin or Redpoll. We then moved on to the Ivy South Hide on route we had good views of a Kingfisher. In the hide we could see a mass of Wigeon on the water with a sprinkling of other ducks and water birds. Then we went on to the Ivy North Hide which provided similar species with the except for some excellent views of a single Cetti Warbler right in front of the hide in the open.
We now headed back to the cars to pick up our lunch before heading to Tern Hide to view Ibsley Water. On route we had the first of our Treecreeper sightings. Arriving at the hide we had an excellent view of a Grey Wagtail close to the front of the hide. Scanning the water, we found that nearly all the birds were on the far side of the water this included many Pintail and a couple of female Goosander. We found the Black-necked Grebe but not the Long-tailed Duck that had been reported. After lunch we made tracks to the Lapwing Hide and on route, we found a sizable flock of Siskin feeding in some Alder trees plus a group of Redwings and the second sighting of a Treecreeper. Further on we heard a Water Rail calling. The Lapwing hide did not provide much extra even though it gave us a fuller view of the water. We did see a Common Buzzard over the far side of the pit. By now it was time to head for Blackwater Arboretum.
We managed to arrive at the arboretum without losing anyone and quickly headed for the usual viewing spot to await the arrival of the Hawfinches. This they did without too much of a wait providing good views even with dull weather. We must have seen between ten to fifteen birds. Sometimes three or four in the same tree. We also had a quick view of a Marsh Tit and Mike White picked up a Brambling which some of our group also managed to see. Another Treecreeeper was also seen. During the whole of our visit at the arboretum we were serenaded by a Song Thrush.
Eventually the light started to fade, and we all headed for home and to navigate around the closed M3/M27 junction. It had been a good day with no rain in Hampshire and we had a day list of 66 species.
19 January 2020, Pagham Harbour by Mike White.
Arriving at the Pagham Harbour visitor centre we were greeted by a dry, clear and very chilly morning with a strange yellow object in the sky, which stayed with us all day. Whilst getting suited and booted we were able to watch the Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Pheasants, House Sparrows, Blue and Great Tits around the feeders. We then headed off around the Tramway circuit. Approaching Yeomans Field, Jackdaw and Curlew were seen in an adjacent stubble field. Yeomans itself was very quiet with just Blackbird, Longtailed Tit and a flyover Lapwing. Returning to the Tramway we arrived at the bottom of the harbour and looking out over the salt marsh we could see a large flock of Golden Plover, a flock of about thirty Avocet and numerous Wigeon, Teal, Redshank and Pintail. Continuing the circuit, we added Redwing, Little Egret, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen before reaching the Ferry Hide. The Ferry Pool and surrounding farmland added Shoveler, Buzzard, Kestrel, Stock Dove and Greenfinch.
We then relocated to Church Norton where lunch was taken whilst adding Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Mediterranean Gull and Great Crested Grebe. Despite much searching we were unable to find the wintering Whimbrel. On the sea distant Great Northern Diver, Red-breasted Merganser and Slavonian Grebe were seen, whilst Turnstone were doing what Turnstone do along the tide line. We then walked along to the Severals before turning inland and completing the circuit through Greenlease Farm and back to the Church Norton car park. This area was very quiet adding only Stonechat, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush and Goldcrest.
With plenty of daylight left, we then moved a little way west to Fishbourne Creek, a new site for some of the party. The creek held many of the species previously seen but additions were a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit, and small numbers of Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Knot. Several hundred Brent Geese were feeding in fields the other side of the creek, occasionally rising into the air and wheeling round when disturbed.
Many hundreds of gulls were loafing on the mud and a Great Black-backed next to a Black-headed gave a nice size comparison and showed just what a brute these large gulls are. Retracing our steps, we saw Yellowhammers and then a small flock of Linnets completed the day. Species total was 68, with thanks to all participants.
5 January 2020, Home Park by Jonathan Hannam
The trip actually started in the Diana Fountain car park in Bushy Park, as that is the nearest place to leave a car. Eight members joined me there and we took the opportunity to scan the pond for the resident Red-crested Pochard, before walking down to Lion Gate and joining up with another member who had come by public transport. With the notable exception of Treecreeper and Goldcrest, all the birds that were seen on the way down to Lion Gate were seen again in Home Park. Just as we were turning into Home Park at the Paddock Gate, a Sparrowhawk was briefly seen by those at the back of the group. A small group of Redwing was feeding on the ground in the paddock and then a much larger group flew into the surrounding trees. A couple of Mistle Thrush and a Nuthatch were also in the area. On the Long Water, there were lots of Coot, Black-headed Gull and Tufted Duck, as well as a few Gadwall and a solitary Great Crested Grebe. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen on the opposite side, giving good views in the scope. Also giving good scope views were a couple of Grey Heron in the cedars in the Formal Gardens. We continued our walk past the Stud House and on to the other end of the Long Water, picking up Kestrel and Green Woodpecker, before pausing for a coffee stop by the Overflow Pond, where more Gadwall were seen. We then walked down to the Kingston Gate via the Dew Pond (another Grey Heron), stopping to examine a small flock of finches on the way. These turned out to be Goldfinch with one Chaffinch amongst them. Returning homewards passed Wick Pond, two Wrens flitted about in the reeds. Our return route took us along Kingston Avenue where we passed a large flock of gulls (about 500) most of which were bBlack headed headed but there were a few Common Gull amongst them. Finally, a small flock of Long-tailed Tits entertained us as we left the park. Altogether, 41 species were recorded by the group.