Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Sunday, 6 August 2017

4th-6th August

The recent early migration hot streak has continued, with my second patch tick in just over a week coming on the 4th. Added up, I'd hate to think how many hours I've spent looking for Lesser Whitethroat, but the work finally paid off when I found a bird along the New Barn track on Friday morning. This bird is a real local rarity, not just on the patch but in the wider Godalming area. The last record here came in the 1990's, and in May Witley Common enjoyed their first Sylvia curruca since 1999!
Juvenile Willow Warbler, New Barn, 6/8/2017

Typically skulking, I didn't exactly enjoy crippling views, but the contrasting head colours and pale plumage were there to see. The individual also called, and performed a couple of short flights, during which the long tail was noted. After a few minutes, it bounced into some dense bracken and wasn't seen again.

The bird was part of a fine cast of 55 species that morning, including 4 other types of Warbler, confirmation of successfully breeding Skylarks, a juvenile Herring Gull and just the 3rd Sand Martin of the year, in with a big moving group of mixed hirundines. The previous day had been much more quiet, bar a couple of Willow Warblers at Winkworth, and a Kingfisher over Rowe's Flashe.

The latter is generally rather scarce here, but after 5 records all year I've now had 3 in the last 6 days. I'm not too sure why this would be - perhaps the recent appearance of fry/smaller fish for them to eat can be correlated with their increase? A bird was seemingly feeding happily at Mill Pond this morning, and 2 juvenile Shoveler here were quite possibly returning winter birds, given that they're the first dabbling ducks to return in the autumn.

Today was pretty quiet though, and ultimately ended in frustrating fashion. The clear skies and light winds had me on the Ridge at dawn, but just 4 Swallows east could be considered migrating during the vis-mig. A large flock of Linnets kept me entertained, though, with a seemingly endless stream of birds arriving from the south-west to feed on the chicory crop throughout the morning. In total, I counted over 60 birds. There was also a notable fall of warblers at New Barn, including at least 4 Willows.

Spotted Flycatcher, New Barn, 4/7/2017
The frustration came during my second visit in the afternoon. A quiet sky-watch from Junction Field peaked just as I was set to go, with a Cormorant and adult Herring Gull moving in a westerly direction, before I picked up a juvenile gull to the east. The bird wasn't particularly high, and began to circle several times, allowing me to note the largely dark upper primaries and lack of primary window, thus ruling out Herring.

It was a hefty individual, with a clean face, and a striking and neat tail pattern, and I was thinking more Yellow-legged than Lesser Black-backed. However, I just couldn't get good enough views of the mirror (or lack of), and ultimately the bird sailed off north-east with 5 Black-headed Gulls. Definitely a fine candidate for what would have been a first Yellow-legged for the patch, but it goes down as another bird that got away...