Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.12

Published on: 18 Jul, 2012
Updated on: 18 Jul, 2012

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By Malcolm Fincham

My latest adventures began on the eve of Tuesday, July 10, when I decided I was overdue a cycle along the river out to Unstead sewage farm to catch up with the news and views of Brian, a very knowledgeable birdwatcher who very rarely misses anything that dares to venture through his domain.

However, apart from a good chance of record sightings of common buzzards this year and a few recent sightings of red kites, even he’s been struggling to come up with anything “out of the ordinary”.

On the way back I decided to follow up on a tip I received on a bird sighting at St Catherine’s Lock. It was gone 8pm by the time I arrived there, but as disappointment was starting to set in just after 8.30pm,  there it was quartering the field… a barn owl.

Barn owl. This picture was taken on a trip to Suffolk last year.

And stunning views too, my first sighting of one in the Guildford area this year. It was just unfortunate that, not for the want of trying, the light had faded too much for any action photo shots.

Common lizards on a boardwalk at Frensham.

The following day I took a drive out to Frensham Great Pond. These areas of heathland with boardwalks running through them are especially good on warm sunny days for spotting lizards.

I recall that in my teens I was swift enough to catch these little critters! I think now that both they and nature are far better off witout such abilities.

Friday evening turned out to be my most facinating day of the week when I met up with my old friend Dave Rose (of this website). A good 40 years have slipped by since we first started investigating all that exists nature-wise in the Guildford area.


We drove to and then walked beyond the new Surrey Sports Park and the Surrey Research Park. This is an area that I haven’t investigated for many years and was surprised at what we found.

Although there wasn’t time to make an “in-depth” analysis of the birdlife there, I was delighted by the abundance of yellowhammers in the fields around the area known as Blackwell Farm. Further on and towards the back of Pinks Hill (south side of the railway line), we were both pleased by a partial call and a brief glimpse of a nightingale. This is a place I must investigate in greater depth some other time.

This reaport also features some other sightings including a green woodpecker, long-tailed tit, kestrel, linnet and common whitethroat.

David Rose adds: Yes, I well remember Malcolm catching lizards back when we were in our teens. He seemed to have quite a fascination for them, unlike me! This was on the top of Rydes Hill Common. It was a much more open space back then. I wonder if there are any lizards there now?

And… if you want to see a movie clip of the common tern chicks at Stoke Meadows (as mentioned by Malcolm in previous reports) click on this link courtesy of fellow local birdwatcher Paul.

Paul also has some more clips on YouTube. Go to:


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