10 March 2019 – Acres Down, by John Barkham
This outing was postponed by a week on account of Storm Freya. Even so, it was a breezy day as six brave members made the walk from the car park to the hill-top viewpoint in The New Forest. Some shelter was found from the worst of the 50mph gusts in the wind and visibility proved excellent. We were soon rewarded with several sightings of flying Goshawk, including two birds at relatively close quarters offering prolonged and excellent views. Also seen were Common Buzzards and Stonechat. Later in the morning we walked the sheltered valley floor and found typical woodland species, including Marsh Tit and Firecrest. After lunch, we relocated to nearby Janesmoor Plain and instantly sighted 2 Wheatears that had been reported earlier. A walk near the Canadian Memorial added Crossbill and we ended the day with a cream tea in Lyndhurst.
24 February 2019 – Berrylands Nature Reserve (Raeburn Open Space) by Thelma Caine
This walk was led by local ecologist Elliot Newton who is founder of the Kingston Biodiversity Network, and was attended by 13 club members and around 25 members of other organisations and local residents. This site was established as a nature reserve in 1992 but had suffered long term neglect. In the last two years a largescale project has been undertaken to enhance the area and engage the local community. Elliot informed the group how he and an enthusiastic group of volunteers had restored the river, removing over 150 tonnes of concrete from the banks, undertaken extensive removal of scrub and enhanced the woodland. A new footbridge and paths had been created as well as a new wildlife pond. During the walk 24 bird species were seen including Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker which was drumming all morning, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits, Jay, Goldfinch and Blackcap. A Little Egret was seen early on and lucky few who did a more extended walk also saw Kingfisher.
13 February 2019 – a Wednesday wander in Bushy Park, by Mike White
I was joined by ten members for the first mid-week wander in the Woodland Gardens on a bright and breezy day. Many of the expected species were seen around the ponds and streams by the café. Egyptian Geese were everywhere and particularly vocal. One female with half open wings shielding some very young goslings. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were showing quite well and also a very photogenic Jay. Winter thrushes were in short supply but eventually we located some Redwing. Just before crossing into the second section of gardens a small group of Siskin were found, right in the tree tops. A real neck breaking job to see. In the next section Nuthatch and Treecreeper gave good views. Sadly, the walk along the Longford River proved rather quiet with just Goldcrest, Robin and Blackbird added to the list. Prior to reaching the end of the gardens we found a Kestrel perched, devouring a small mammal and a few members saw a Buzzard. At the end of the gardens we turned and walked through the centre of the wood, encountering a bird watcher who provided anecdotal evidence that Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had bred last year and had also been heard in the area this year. Sadly, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Kingfisher did not make our list which totalled 35 species. With thanks to all participants.
3 February 2019 – Blashford Lakes and Blackwater Arboretum (Another day with Hawfinches), by Peter Knox
Four members left Surbiton on a cold but sunny morning. The journey was uneventful, and the roads were clear, although when we travelled though the village of Four Marks there was a lot of snow to the extent that the trees had snow plastered up their trunks. But once we hit the M3 the snow was a lot lighter on the surrounding fields. We did see a Kestrel and some Pheasants on route. On arrival at we met up with the boys from Bookham. The Blashford warden suggested we should head for the northly Lapwing hide as there was some unfrozen areas on Ibsley water and all the other pits were frozen. This we did and on arrival we settle down and scan the pit. Our highlights of our scanning were a Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff all very close to the hide. In the distance we found a Common Snipe, and on the water, there were plenty of birds including both male and female Goosander, Goldeneye and good numbers of Little Grebe. Flying over the pit we saw Sparrowhawk, Little Egret and Common Buzzard. We then move on to the Goosander hide but found nothing we had not already seen. On route back to the centre some members of our group saw a Treecreeper and male and female Bullfinch. On the way back Paul decided to do a bit of freelancing and found a Great Egret the rest of us took advantage of the popup café at the centre. Once suitably refreshed we moved on to the South Ivy Hide were some of managed to briefly catch up with the Great Egret. Then we headed to the Woodland hide get good views of Siskin, Nuthatch, Reed Bunting and many other woodland birds. Unfortunately, there were no Redpoll or Brambling. The Ivy North hide did not provide much in the way of bird life. We made the decision to go to Harbridge just north of Blashford. There had been reports of a single Bewick Swan. This bird was found quite quickly mixed with a field full of Mute Swans. We also saw a group of Golden Plover and a few Egyptian Geese. We now headed for Blackwater Arboretum driving across the New Forest seeing very little snow. The conditions at Blackwater were just about perfect with very little wind and plenty of sunshine. It did not take long before the first Hawfinch to arrive. At one point we had four birds in one tree and plenty of views of Hawfinch in the open at the top of the trees in perfect light. In total we may have had up twenty birds, but it was difficult to keep track of the birds. We also had nice views of a Marsh Tit dropping to the ground to pick up food. There was also a couple of good views of male Crossbills. A couple of Bramblings also showed up in the tree tops. Once again, a trip to Blashford and Blackwater provided a great days birding with a species count of 74 birds seen during the day.
13 January 2019 – Rye Harbour & Pett Levels, by Mike White
Our group gathered at the revised meeting point of Rye Harbour. The walk from the car park surrounds to the Gooders Hide saw us with sightings of House Sparrow, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Redshank, Skylark, Curlew and Shelduck. We arrived at the hide just as the rain started to turn heavy, once settled inside we added most of the expected wildfowl to the list, a single Snipe was seen by some group members. A large number of Golden Plover were present with a few Dunlin. At this point we were joined by the ninth member of the group, who we had left in the car park struggling with a HUGE egg & bacon sandwich. (I wonder who that could have been?) With the rain now ceased we left the hide and continued towards the beach, keeping a careful look out for the reported Twite. A short sea watch added Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Red-throated Diver, Gannet and Oystercatcher to the list. Just as we left the beach a flock of thirty geese flew over, in poor light the identity was a little problematic, but they then circled and flew directly over us, revealing themselves to be Barnacle Geese, (not quite what we were expecting). We continued on to the Quarry and Ternery hides where lunch was taken. We only added Grey Plover, Tufted Duck and Kestrel during the lunch stop. We then retraced our steps to the car park, (with no sighting of the Twite) before relocating the short distance to Pett Levels. The elevation of the sea wall gave excellent views across the levels but the strength of the wind made keeping a scope steady quite challenging. Greylag, Canada and the hoped for White-fronted Geese were all quickly ticked off with the added bonus of a Great White Egret. Raptors present were Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. Turning our attention to the sea, (not easy given the swell) we saw several flocks of Common Scoter and one member managed to pick out a Velvet Scoter when it stretched its wings. Small numbers of Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, a lone Slavonian Grebe and a single auk species were on the water. Walking further along the wall gave us views over Pett Pools which were fairly quiet with just a few Mallard, Pochard and Little Grebe. Large numbers of Wigeon and between 20-30 Ruff were on the grass around the pools. A total of 63 species seen during the day, with thanks to all participants.
6 January 2019 – Kempton Nature Reserve by Tony Quinn
Sixteen members arrived on this first trip of the new New Year. Unfortunately two very important members were left stranded at the gate for a while as we started a little early. My apologies to them. Viewing from the West Hide produced a group of about 12 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 11 Lapwings and a Green Woodpecker. Some members also saw Long-tailed Tits. Moving on, a distant Mistle Thrush was singing from Kempton Park Racecourse and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the grounds of the Water Treatment Works. Reaching the South Hide, a female Reed Bunting was at a nearby feeder and a few more Teal were at the entrance to the channel. A good sighting from the East Hide was a group of about 10 Common Snipe but hiding at some distance. Rather scarce these days, a female Chaffinch was near one of the feeders and a non-member saw two more Reed Buntings there. A walk along Bunny Lane produced a wintering Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Bullfinches were heard but not seen. WeBS counters found Common and Red-crested Pochard and Great Crested Grebe on a nearby site. In all about 35 species were seen or heard. Friends of Kempton. Membership is free to Society members but they should first become members of the Hogsmill STW Friends Scheme. See the link below for full details. http://surbitonbirds.org/?page_id=399