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Birdwatcher’s Diary No.22

Published on: 4 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 4 Nov, 2012

By Malcolm Fincham

“Wind from the north-east chills the air, it will soon be snowing out there!” Lyrics from a late 1970s Genesis song echoed in my thoughts on several occasions as I walked around Stoke Meadows during the last week or so.

More a case of one of those tunes that just get stuck in one’s head rather than a premonition, I hope.

However, the wind has been coming from that direction on several days recently which has certainly assisted the arrival of flocks of redwing and fieldfare from Scandinavia in the last week or so with large “falls” reported in East Anglia.

The brambling – a bird to watch out for on your feeders this winter.

I have personally witnessed flocks of up to 50 or so overhead on a number of dates. Also reported have been large flocks of brambling this autumn. So if you happen to see an unusual looking chaffinch on your feeder in the next month or so it may well be one. I will be pleased to hear reports (and pictures) of bramblings that you care to send to this website, or any other unusual birds you see on your feeders this winter. Please leave a reply in the box at the end of this post, or send an email to

The great grey shrike – back on Thursley Common.

Another bird to have arrived back on Thursley Common in the last few days to “overwinter” is the great grey shrike. I did a story about this bird on in my very first report for The Guildford Dragon News. Click here to view.

Tufted ducks on Stoke Lake.

Numbers of teal and shoveler ducks are now starting to arrive on the flooded field near Stoke Lake, and up to 30 tufted duck can be seen on the lake itself on most days.


A walk over Whitmoor Common on November 1st didn’t bring much joy with just a few meadow pipits, mistle thrushes and the usual regular spices to see. If only I had gone to my regular haunt at Stoke Lake where a shag (a close relative to the cormorant and rare sighting for Surrey) was spotted, sitting on the tern raft that same afternoon.

I made a visit the following afternoon in the hope that it might have hung about, but as they say in birdwatching terms “dipped out”. However, I wasn’t totally disappointed, as with the weather being so kind, it gave me a good opportunity to capture a few photos of the wildlife and scenery.

The boardwalks under repair near Stoke Lake.

I was also pleased to see work in progress to re-install the boardwalks around the lake – a project long overdue.

Autumn view across Stoke Lake.

By the time I arrived at Bowers Lock, Burpham, it was dusk, but once again I was able to get views of the barn owl sitting in a distant tree. From this sighting I have almost certainly concluded there are at least two in the area, as on my way back, looking across in the direction of Stoke Lake from the towpath, a second barn owl was quartering the field.


I also concluded that despite the inclement summer we all suffered in 2012, it must have been a good one for small mammals, as both young barn owls and kestrels seem to be quite a success this year.

Red-legged partridge.

Elsewhere, in the Wonersh and Shamley Green area south of Guildford I have had several sightings recently of red-legged partridges. More often than not just a brief glimpse as they scurry off into undergrowth. However, I was grateful for one that stopped to pose for a picture.

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.22

  1. Steve Balchin Reply

    November 10, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Very interesting, as always. I shall certainly report any unusual sightings on my bird feeders this winter.

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