Monday, 13 February 2017

Shalford historic list

With the year list getting off to a rather leisurely start so far (70 at the time of writing - Gadwall the most recent addition) and all my species accounts completed for the latest Surrey Bird Report, I thought I'd have a go at putting together a historic list for my Shalford patch as a way of passing the dark evenings. Besides, as it's now very likely I won't be watching the area by the end of the year I thought it'd be good for posterity, in case any future local birders want to add to it! No doubt there are many species missing here, but I'm only including those that I've recorded myself or those for which there are documented or anecdotal records.
Watercolour of St Catherine's Hill circa mid-1800s by Francis Oliver Finch

1. Mute Swan
2. Bewick's Swan - Records from 1956 and 1966. There were 12 present on 17th March 1963, towards the end of the famously severe winter that year.
3. Whooper Swan - Coinciding with the aforementioned Bewick's record, up to 12 were present from the 8th to the 23rd March 1963
4. Greylag Goose
5. Canada Goose
6. Barnacle Goose - Almost certainly of feral origin, single birds were recorded in 2001 (E Stubbs) then on 7th and 9th September 2007 at Broadford Bridge.
7. Brent Goose - One was on Broadford Marsh on 29th May 2016 (M Phelps)
8. Egyptian Goose
9. Ruddy Shelduck - One, presumably an escape, was present on 23rd March 2009
10. Mandarin Duck
11. Wigeon
12. Gadwall
13. Teal
14. Mallard
15. Pintail - One record from 1963, no further details
16. Garganey - One record referenced in Birds of Surrey (Wheatley) on an unspecified date between 1955 and 2007(!)
17. Shoveler
18. Tufted Duck
19. Goldeneye - One record, a female, at St Catherine's Lock circa January 1988 (R Stride)
20. Goosander - 4 were present on 19th January 2014 (C Gray)
21. Red-legged Partridge - Only two documented records, in 2004 and 2007
22. Grey Partridge - One was at St Catherine's Lock on 24th June 2006
23. Pheasant
24. Cormorant
25. Bittern - One record in 1979, no further details. Lengthsman Rob Craig has reported more recent sightings, but dates not specified.
26. Little Egret
27. Grey Heron
28. Little Grebe
29. Great Crested Grebe
30. Red Kite
31. Harrier sp. - One high over on 30th September 2015 ('Birding Vicar' on Twitter)
32. Sparrowhawk
33. Buzzard
34. Osprey
35. Kestrel
36. Hobby
37. Peregrine
38. Water Rail
39. Moorhen
40. Coot
41. Stone-curlew - One was on Broadford Marsh in July 1944 (Birds of Surrey, Wheatley)
42. Golden Plover
43. Lapwing
44. Little Ringed Plover
45. Whimbrel - One record from 1993 is referenced in Birds of Surrey (Wheatley), no further details.
46. Curlew - Two flyover records in 2016
47. Ruff
48. Common Sandpiper
49. Green Sandpiper
50. Wood Sandpiper - Two in 1967 (Birds of Surrey, Wheatley), no further details
51. Jack Snipe
52. Woodcock
53. Snipe
54. Black Tern - One record from November 1895 (Bucknill)
55. Common Tern
56. Black-headed Gull
57. Mediterranean Gull - My flyover adult on 7th March 2016 is the only documented record
58. Common Gull
59. Lesser Black-backed Gull
60. Herring Gull
61. Great Black-backed Gull
62. Feral Rock Dove
63. Stock Dove
64. Woodpigeon
65. Collared Dove
66. Turtle Dove - Anecdotal records from John Austin but no precise details. Another species that was, presumably, reasonably common in the area once upon a time.
67. Ring-necked Parakeet
68. Cuckoo
69. Barn Owl
70. Little Owl
71. Tawny Owl
72. Swift
73. Kingfisher
74. Wryneck - One was recorded at Shalford Common (just to the east of the Water Meadows and not officially in my patch) on 31st March 1923, a notably early arrival date for this species which presumably bred locally at one stage.
75. Green Woodpecker
76. Great Spotted Woodpecker
77. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Once a relatively common sight along the river, as was the case in many places. There was a record of 5 together in 2007.
78. Chough - Bucknill refers to one shot at St Catherine's Hill on an unspecified date in the 1800s. The origin of the bird in question was never determined although most other records from this time involved escaped birds.

79. Magpie
80. Jay
81. Jackdaw
82. Rook
83. Carrion Crow
84. Raven
85. Goldcrest
86. Firecrest
87. Blue Tit
88. Great Tit
89. Coal Tit
90. Skylark
91. Sand Martin
92. Swallow
93. House Martin
94. Cetti's Warbler - One was at 'Shalford Weir' on 27th April 2010
95. Long-tailed Tit
96. Chiffchaff
97. Willow Warbler
98. Blackcap
99. Garden Warbler
100. Lesser Whitethroat
101. Whitethroat
102. Dartford Warbler - One near St Catherine's Lock on 10th December 2015 (J Gates)
103. Grasshopper Warbler
104. Sedge Warbler
105. Reed Warbler
106. Waxwing
107. Nuthatch
108. Treecreeper
109. Wren
110. Starling
111. Siberian Thrush - An intriguing one this as it remains the only Surrey record - just a shame it's never been proven! Bucknill dedicates two pages of his Birds of Surrey to the record of a female of this species apparently shot by a Mr Drewitt at St Catherine's Hill in February 1855, during an exceptionally bad winter. There are some discrepancies in the account though and the record has never been formally accepted.
Was the only Surrey Siberian Thrush really shot on my patch? Sadly, we'll never know!
112. Blackbird
113. Fieldfare
114. Song Thrush
115. Redwing
116. Mistle Thrush
117. Spotted Flycatcher
118. Robin
119. Pied Flycatcher - One record from 1983, no further details
120. Redstart - My two records in spring 2016 appear to be the only documented records of this species on the patch.
121. Stonechat
122. Dunnock
123. House Sparrow
124. Tree Sparrow - As with many species this once numerous breeder has now virtually disappeared from Surrey. In 1965 there were 30 pairs recorded at Shalford alone!
125. Yellow Wagtail - It seems that Shalford remained a breeding stronghold for this species until at least the 1920s but now is only recorded as a passage migrant.
126. Grey Wagtail
127. Pied Wagtail
128. Meadow Pipit
129. Chaffinch
130. Brambling
131. Greenfinch
132. Goldfinch
133. Siskin
134. Linnet
135. Lesser Redpoll
136. Crossbill
137. Bullfinch
138. Reed Bunting
139. Corn Bunting - One breeding season record from 1970 (Birds of Surrey, Wheatley), no further details.


Little Auk - 'One was captured alive in a deep chalk pit near Guildford by a youth' in February 1860 (Bucknill). It's hard to be sure but this could be the chalk pit at the north-eastern corner of the patch.

Two-barred Crossbill - A male of this species was shot in 1849 in 'Unsted Wood' (Bucknill). The wood which borders the western edge of the patch along the old railway line has a sign saying 'Unstead Wood' but I would imagine this record more likely relates to the only Unsted Wood with that spelling on the OS Map, just south of Unstead SF. I merely include the record here for local interest as it's only just outside my patch boundary.

So that's it, as far as I can tell. Species notable by their absence include Shelduck, Pochard, Wheatear, Whinchat and plenty of others. Hopefully I'll be able to add at least one or two more to the list before I leave the area but after that who knows!


  1. I love it when the historical record of an area is pulled together, it makes for a fascinating read Matt. I fondly recall Robin Stride's Cranleigh area report, called, if I remember rightly, 'The Isles of Surrey'. Now all you need to do is fill in the gaps!

    1. Cheers Steve, I always enjoy reading these lists too and found putting this one together just as enjoyable.

      Yes indeed, I've been lucky enough to see Robin's personal copy of said publication with added annotations of all the species he's added since he originally wrote it!