Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Operation Patch Wader

Having heard a Curlew fly over my flat at an ungodly hour earlier in the week, I began to think - my patch wader list is pathetic, even for an inland site with little water such as mine. During the past 3 years, of solid coverage I might add, I've managed just 5 species. Also, 2 of those 5 (Woodcock and Lapwing), whilst patch rares, are pretty regular locally.

Curlew over Allden's Hill in February this year
When Matt P worked and patched here in 2015 he managed more than 5 wader species in one year alone, including a terrible trio of grippage in the form of Common and Green Sandpipers, and Black-tailed Godwit (huge blocker!). I've had none of those birds, and they are the 3 waders on the historical list that remain off mine (not including the unidentified flock earlier this year). To put it into context Canons Farm, which is a lot smaller than my patch and totally devoid of water, has an astounding list of 13 waders, including such mouth-watering names as Dotterel, Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover.

I upped my game this spring, giving Rowe's Flashe more attention than it deserved during the right times, but in truth none of the water bodies are actually attractive for wading birds, with a dearth of shorelines of any sort. I drew a spring wader blank until May 21st, when a rather late Curlew caught me by surprise, flying over Hive Field. However, despite this bird, and another in February, that's been it this year, aside from the Lapwings and Woodcocks of course.

So, I've set myself a goal, from now until the end of wader passage. With long-legged migration already on the go across the country, my aim is to find at least one wader on the patch before the winter is here. Any appropriate water will be checked thoroughly, along with the weather forecasts - flyovers are perhaps my best bet. That certainly seems to be the case at Canons, and my finest wader hour here came after light showers and a north-east wind in late July 2015 lowered 9 Whimbrel just enough to be seen from the Ridge. I'd be over the moon if something similar was to happen again.