Well, what with my week away and various other bits and bobs it's been over three weeks since my last patch diary post.
Typically for the time of year things have now quietened down somewhat with the resident and migrant breeders all largely getting on with the task at hand. Aside from the usual common Tits and Mallards it's been good to confirm plenty of other species as breeding at Shalford, some more common than others. The first Mandarin ducklings were found by Kit Britten on the 13th while family groups or juveniles of Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Goldcrest and Mistle Thrush have all been seen recently. The regular Stonechat pair, meanwhile, are apparently still feeding nestlings at St Catherine's Lock. Surely they should be fledging any day now.
Best of all though has been confirming Sand Martins breeding in the railway cutting on the east side of St Catherine's Hill, with three birds regularly seen going into a hole here recently. Like so many places in Surrey this was once a regular breeding site for this declining species but had apparently been abandoned for many years so it's great to see them back. I suspect the tree and scrub clearance carried out on the embankment has opened the area up enough to encourage them back.
The only patch year tick since my last round-up came on the 27th when I stumbled across a pair of Spotted Flycatchers in the wet woodland on the west side of Shalford Park. This is a part of the patch I've not explored much previously and I went to investigate it on this day with this exact species in mind. Only my third patch record of this species following on from singles in spring and autumn last year, and particularly encouraging to see a pair. I do hope they stick around and breed. Spotted Flycatcher is the 103rd species recorded at Shalford this year and my 101st.
Onto warblers and there are now at least four Garden Warblers and two Sedge Warblers holding territory on the patch, one of the latter near St Catherine's Lock proving particularly showy on recent visits (see video below!). Reed Warblers have been rather scarce this spring with just singles on the 20th and 31st the only ones recorded since my previous patch round-up. The first juvenile Chiffchaffs of the year were seen in the Broadford area on the evening of the 30th.
Swift numbers have been really increasing in the last couple of weeks, with a conservative count of thirty noted on the 29th, at least some of these presumably local birds but others still clearly moving through. At least a couple of pairs have been dashing around over Shalford village with the House Martins recently; the latter were busy working on their nests on the 21st, I noticed, when a Hobby appeared low over the rooftops and sent them all into a panic! A regular sight over the village recently via Kit which is good news as I only had a handful of patch records of this species in 2016.
The only other bits of note recently have all been flyovers with three Lapwings south-west on the 16th, a 3cy Great Black-backed Gull east and two Mute Swans south, both on the 25th. Also on the 25th a Skylark flew west over St Catherine's Lock, singing, while one flew east over the same area on the 29th. I would guess these are birds either breeding at Loseley and commuting to the arable fields south of the Chantries or vice versa.
One last little nugget I thought I'd share: I mentioned in my previous patch diary about a Bullfinch plucking seedheads off Dandelions along the Railway Line Walk, well I saw another one doing the same on the edge of Shalford Park the other day. Presumably just feeding on the seeds but not behaviour I've seen before this year anyway.
Away from the patch it was great to notch up my hoped for 90th species on my Chilworth garden list, with a Nightjar churring somewhere to the south towards Blackheath on the evening of the 21st. This was followed closely by two Curlews which flew east/north-east this morning. I'm working on a garden list special blog post which I'll post when we eventually move!