Sunday, 24 January 2016

This week on the patch, 18th-24th January

Tuesday 19th January

As the weather had finally turned seasonably cold I decided an after work visit was in order to see if there was any sign of cold weather movement on the patch. As I passed Dagley Lane allotments, five Meadow Pipits flew over - only my second record of this species here this year. Out in the frozen meadow there were two Stonechats by St Catherine's Lock - a female and a 1st winter male. On the river there were female and immature Mute Swans, while four Egyptian Geese flew southwest, presumably to roost at Busbridge Lakes. Snipe and Teal were heard but not seen. 

Thursday 21st January

A very quiet evening visit with little of note to report. Snipe and Teal were heard, but there were clearly far fewer of the latter around. Ed Stubbs had an extraordinary count of 116 on nearby Mill Pond in Bramley earlier in the day - presumably the freezing conditions this week had displaced a lot of the local birds to the small area of unfrozen water there including, it seems, most of the Shalford/Broadford population. 

Friday 22nd January

A far more productive session in much milder conditions. I arrived in time to catch the last of the gulls moving north up the river - mostly Black-heads - and also witnessed my highest count yet of Egyptian Geese flying southwest to roost - 18 in total, in small groups. 
Egyptian Geese
Also flying to roost were Pied Wagtails, with 26 in total flying north, presumably to the roost site outside Frankie & Benny's in Guildford. As the daylight faded a Little Owl called in an Oak across the river from the lock keeper's cottage; a very nice addition to both my patch and British year lists. There were also both male and female Tawny Owls calling as I headed back to my car, while a Buzzard flew east calling well after sunset.

Saturday 23rd January

I arrived at the patch a short while after sunrise and was immediately greeted by the welcome sound of a Collared Dove singing by the Dagley Lane scout hut - a long overdue patch tick and a good start to the morning. As I descended the slope towards the water meadows I saw that they were partly shrouded in mist which made for a very atmospheric scene. 

As the morning went on though the visibility decreased which hampered any long range birding efforts. No matter though, as the two Stonechats by St Catherine's Lock were still present and in a particularly showy mood and looking particularly handsome against the backdrop of frosty vegetation. 

1st winter male Stonehat

There were at least 25 Siskin and 5 Lesser Redpoll in the riverside Alders, which also showed well. A little further downstream I counted 16 Teal in the pool near the railway bridge.
Lesser Redpoll

Sunday 24th January

A pre-breakfast visit with my girlfriend this morning produced another belated addition to the patch list in the form of two Little Egrets flying low south-southwest. They are not uncommon in this area so I'm surprised it's taken me almost to the end of January to see one here. Frustratingly I was a little slow on the draw with my camera, but I've no doubt they won't be the last here this year. Species 71 on my patch list, taking me to 73 points for Patchwork Challenge
Also of note this morning were a female Stonechat by St Catherine's Lock plus at least three Reed Buntings, while 8 Shoveler flew up from the marsh by Railway Line Walk and there were 17 Teal on the pool by the railway bridge. 

A few other pics from this week

The Wey and Arun Junction, where the river splits in two - southwest towards
Godalming and southeast towards Cranleigh. 
Greenfinch singing. It's good to see this species present in good numbers
here in light of recent declines
Lesser Celandine already in flower all over the patch

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