Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Friday, 23 June 2017

23rd June

There was quite a spectacle across the patch today with at least 500 Swifts filling the skies, a total that smashed the previous record of 100, which came at Winkworth on 27th July 2015. One feeding flock alone at New Barn consisted of 250+ individuals, and birds were seen pretty much everywhere throughout the rest of the site.

Swifts aren't actually very numerous here - there's no suitable breeding habitat, so normally the only big counts are made at passage times (e.g 100+ S on 27/7/2015, 33 NE on 5/5/2017). The birds today didn't seem to be moving. There was perhaps a slight westerly leaning, but I actually feel these were mass feeding flocks. I'm not sure why today was reason for such behaviour (weather wasn't that bad), but adults will travel big distances to collect food for their young when needs must, and given the Godalming/Farncombe/Bramley suburbia seem to have become Swift ghost towns today, my conclusion is thus.

Saying this, 2,000 moved south through Spurn yesterday, and 50 flew over Clandon today, so perhaps it was failed breeders linking up and slowly making an early exit from the UK? Who knows, but either way, it was quite a spectacle, and I wonder if I'll ever get such a count again here.

The Swift numbers were probably the highlight for David C and I today, as a 5+ hour session yielded little else of note, among 53 species. One of the Selhurst Common Spotted Flycatcher pairs showed well, but both the Little Owls and Ravens got stage fright the day the ultimate patch mega, another birder, was present.

Before he arrived I'd clocked a Common Tern at Bramley Park Lake, and 3 Gadwall and a Shoveler on Mill Pond, but unfortunately David only connected with the latter. Another pleasing sighting was that of a Skylark landing in suitable nesting habitat at Tilsey Farm. This species hasn't been proven to breed here since 2007, so fingers are crossed.

Generally though, it was quiet. Birdsong is dropping off, raptors and partridges are laying low, and Butterflies are often the more interesting things to look at. Oh what I'd do to have a marsh of some sort here...