Saturday, 1 April 2017

Shalford patch diary, late March

Well, what a few days it's been on the patch. The pair of Garganey stayed longer than expected and were enjoyed by at least 50 people. I met and chatted to visiting birders from West Sussex, London and all over Surrey, clearly enticed by some of the fantastic photos of the birds, a few of which I've included below.
Photo: Richard Waters
Photo: Dave Carlsson
Photo: Stevie Minhinnick

Photo: Richard Waters

Photo: Richard Waters

Photo: Richard Waters
Away from the main action on St Catherine's Pool, the first Blackcap (82) of the year was singing near the Dagley Lane allotments early on the 21st, before a more noticeable fall on the 30th when at least five singing males and a female were noted. Early on the 29th the first Willow Warbler of the year was singing by St Catherine's Pool. Chiffchaff numbers are steadily increasing, peaking at an impressive 17 males noted during a patch 'big day' on the 24th - but more on that later.
Chiffchaff - Richard Waters
Wildfowl numbers remain fairly decent with 27 Teal recorded on the 24th and two pairs of Gadwall on the 26th. There were also still two pairs of Shoveler present as of the 28th. There were three Egyptian Geese present in the Broadford area on the 24th, along with the usual numbers of Canada Geese and a single Greylag.
Teal - Richard Waters
Lingering winter visitors include singles of Redpoll over on the 24th, 25th and 27th and just a scattering of Redwing (4 on the 22nd, 3 on the 30th). Two Fieldfare flew west over the Horse Field on the 24th. Meadow Pipit passage is beginning to pick up now with several noted flying north on recent patch visits.

Back to the epic eight hour patch day on the 24th now which saw me notch up a patch record day list of 69 species, including my first Kingfisher (83) of the year, heard calling by the bridge where the Railway Line Walk crosses the river. Other highlights from the day included two Little Egrets flying north and a Firecrest in Mill Mead Meadow while an extended lunchtime skywatch from St Catherine's Hill produced 3 Red Kites, a male Crossbill flying east, an adult Great Black-backed Gull north and a Raven soaring high overhead before doing a couple of barrel rolls and flying west.
Buzzard - Richard Waters
The Little Owl in St Catherine's Meadow has been noticeably more vocal, giving its yelping call from one of the Oaks here both morning and evening on my recent visits.

After finding my first ever patch Red-legged Partridge on the 12th I've seen two together in the Horse Field/Broadford area a couple of times recently. The regular pair of Stonechat are still hanging around near St Catherine's Lock, while on the morning of the 30th a 'new' male was singing by Broadford Bridge.

The first patch Skylark of the year was heard singing to the west of Horse Field early on the 28th, while the first patch hirundine of the year was a Swallow seen by Kit Britten later the same day - exactly the same date as the first one in 2016.

The last week or so has seen a good emergence of the overwintering butterfly species, with Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral noted in good numbers, plus a Small or Green-veined White seen briefly on the 26th in Mill Mead Meadow.
Small Tortoiseshell
As a final note on this post, thank you to Shaun Ferguson for producing this new map of the patch which you'll be able to find in 'The local patch' section of the blog, for reference.

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