March and April 2016

A busy two months for bird-watchers and birds as it is migration time. We therefore have records of winter and summer visitors and those just passing through. The resident Cetti’s Warbler was regularly recorded in habitats by water but the warbler list was increased with a full complement of our summer visitors: many records of Chiffchaff (many singing males) and Blackcap, quite a few records of Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and in April small numbers of the rarer warblers. These were a superb Wood Warbler (Home Park 1st), a Willow Warbler (Molesey Heath 18th), a Garden Warbler (Molesey Heath 19th), a Sedge Warbler (Molesey Heath & Gravel Pit both 25th) and a Reed Warbler (Molesey Heath 29th).

On the other hand in March there were still winter thrush visitors: Fieldfare (three places) and Redwing (seven places). There were only small numbers of the former but large numbers of the latter (around 200 in Horton Country Park 4th March). Other passerines more commonly seen in winter were well recorded such as Siskin (five places), Linnet (five places) and Mistle Thrush (also five places) but in each case there was evidence of breeding. A loneLesser Redpoll was still in Cobham on 3rd March. The Prince’s Coverts Nightingale has returned (singing 26th April). Stonechat were recorded twice (a nest with young on Esher Common in April and single male

at Hogsmill Sewage Works 25th March). A Common Redstart seen three days running in late April on Molesey Heath. Wheatear (probably passing through) were seen twice (two males and a female at Rushett Farm 19th April and two at Island Barn Reservoir 24th April. This site produced a White Wagtail (the continental version of our Pied) on 3rd April.

There have been a good number of hirundine records from late March into April. The first date for Swallow and House Martin was 28 March and the day before for Sand Martin. In some cases there were single birds but they were also seen in tens – some were seen in suitable nesting habitats but others were probably migrating through our square. The non-passerine Swift came later: one was seen on 18th April at Island Barn Reservoir and more were seen there later in the month. There were about a hundred migrating through at Knight & Bessborough Reservoir, Walton on the 29th.

Other non-passerine groups recorded were waders and gulls. Island Barn Reservoir had Oystercatcher (27th April & 2nd April), Greenshank (24th-27thApril) and Common Sandpiper (24th & 26th April). Common Snipe was recorded at Horton Country Park (4th March) and Hogsmill Sewage Works (7thMarch), Woodcock at Prince’s Coverts (20th, 24th & 26th April), Green Sandpiper at Island Barn Reservoir (18th March) and Stain Hill Reservoir (12thMarch, 3rd & 9th April) and Redshank at Stain Hill (12th March) Island Barn (22nd March) Chelsea & Lambeth Reservoir Walton (28th March & 16th April).Little Gull was seen at two reservoirs – Island Barn (in March) and Knight & Bessborough (in April) which also had Common Tern from mid-April.Mediterranean Gull was spotted at these two reservoirs and Cow Common in April. Nineteen Common Gulls were at Hogsmill Sewage Works on12thMarch and on18th March Island Barn Reservoir had a Yellow-legged Gull and an Iceland Gull. Ten duck species were recorded with some showing signs of breeding. The records included a single male Red-crested Pochard (River Thames 13th April) and Goldeneye (Stain Hill Reservoir 12th March and Walton Reservoir 28th March). The common raptors Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were recorded around our square. Red Kite were recorded in four sites and Peregrine was seen around its two nesting sites (Horton Country Park and Kingston College). On 13th March the winter visiting raptor, Merlin, was spotted in Home Park. Four owl species were discovered Little Owl (Horton Country Park), Tawny Owl (Norbiton), Barn Owl (Home Park) and Short-eared Owl (also Home Park).

Other non-passerines of note were Little Egret (Bushy Park 29th March & Kempton Nature Reserve 7th April) and Black-necked Grebe changing from partial (mid-March) to full summer plumage by the end of March at Island Barn Reservoir.

Many thanks to those who contributed to this report. They were: Abrahams D., Avison G., Boudreau K., Boulby M., Caine T., Chaffe M., Ford N., Gale J., Garbutt N., Gilry A., Hannam J., Jackman N., Kiddell D., Meier J., Peggs G., Quinn A., Shea A., Sherlock B., Sherlock C., Skotnicki A., Spencer P., Tregenza P., Tregenza V., Trim C., Turner C., White M. and Wilkinson C.