It was a rather atypical winter – mild with lots of rain – until the New Year when we started to get some more typical weather.
A water bird survey (WeBS) produced quite a few records including nine species of duck. Good numbers of Wigeon and Teal, which are mostly winter visitors, were found, plus some rarer ducks such as Mandarin Duck (Home Park 7th February), Goldeneye (Stain Hill Reservoir 17th January & 21stFebruary) and a Goosander at Sunbury Lock 25th February). An unusually large number of Shoveler (over 80) were spotted at the Hogsmill Sewage Works reserve feeding by circling together to pull up food from lower in the water.
Other interesting water birds included a Little Egret at Bushy Park (7th & 14th January) and a Black-necked Grebe on Island Barn Reservoir (18thFebruary). On the same visit to the reservoir two Redshank and a Green Sandpiper were found. The next day a Common Snipe was seen at the Hogsmill Sewage Works. An Iceland and two Mediterranean Gulls were seen at Island Barn Reservoir (18th February) and a Med Gull was also discovered at Portsmouth Road Filter Beds on New Year’s Day. There were also seven sightings of single Kingfisher in various places.
The common raptors, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, were seen in several places in our square and Esher in February had Red Kite on two occasions andCommon Buzzard on one. Home Park had Short-eared Owl that were seen by quite a few club members over these two months with the maximum count being four. In the middle of February a Little Owl was seen at the same site.
A few species of warblers were discovered: Single Blackcap were seen at five sites and at one of these it was regularly on the bird-feeder from the end of January onwards. Twice Chiffchaff were spotted. In two places along the River Mole Cetti’s Warbler were seen or heard on seven occasions.
The two winter thrushes were seen in good numbers at quite a few sites. Fieldfare at nine sites with 60 at Rushett Farm 3rd February and Redwing at seventeen sites with about 200 at Horton Country Park 16th February and Island Barn Reservoir 19th February. This time of year produces many Song Thrush records and they were found at sixteen sites and quite a few of these records were of males singing. Again Horton Country Park produced the largest number with eight on 16th February, five of which were singing males. A handful of sites had single Mistle Thrush.
In winter we have some visiting passerines like Siskin which were recorded six times including a flock of about 50 on Molesey Heath (20th January),Lesser Redpoll in ones and twos at three sites in January and one Crossbill was seen at Rushett Farm on 3rd February. In winter some birds resident in our square are seen in larger numbers such as Linnet (ten records with 36 birds at the Hogsmill reserve 17th January) and Goldcrest (20 records across 11 sites with a maximum of 8 birds by the River Mole 30th January).
Other passerines of note were all in February: Skylark at Rushett Farm and Home Park and in both cases some of the birds were singing, Treecreeper at four sites, Stonechat in Home and Bushy Parks, Yellowhammer at Rushett Farm, Reed Bunting in Home Park, Esher Common and near Island Barn Reservoir and a Bullfinch which was heard in Horton County Park.
Many thanks to those who contributed to this report. They were: Abrahams D., Avison G., Boudreau K., Boulby M., Fure A., Gale J., Gill E., Gill G., Gilry A., Hannam J., Kennedy T., O’Shea A., Peggs G., Peggs S., Quinn A., Sheehan M., Sherlock B., Sherlock C., Skotnicki A., Spencer P. , Stannard E., Tregenza P., Tregenza V., White M. and Wilkinson C.