Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.20

Published on: 8 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 12 Oct, 2012

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By Malcolm Fincham

Although the weather remained warm during the last week of September, subtle changes were starting to be noticed.

This was especially evident to me  on my ‘local patch’ at Stoke Meadows. Apart from house martins and swallows on a last feeding frenzy catching airborne insects (occasionally pursued by a hobby) most of our summer migrants now appear to have moved on.

Female whinchat.

However, on Thursday, September 27, I did have the fortune of seeing a female whinchat. Although not as striking as the male of the species, it was still a pleasing bird to spot. It is about the size of a stonechat but slightly more slender with a notable white stripe above the eye, or supercilium to use the correct name. Unlike the stonechat, the whinchat migrates and this one was no doubt on passage to South Africa.

Distant view of a kingfisher at Bowers Lock.

Kestrels can still be regularly seen hovering by Stoke Lake and above the field beyond Bowers Lock. I have also been delighted to have had regular sightings of a kingfisher, although getting close enough to photograph always remains a challenge as seen from the picture here that I took at Bowers Lock on Saturday, September 22.

Great crested grebe with a new addition to its family.

I was surprised to see a new addition at Stoke Lake with the appearance of a great crested grebe chick. In an earlier report I mentioned at that time about the adults attempting a second brood. Either they didn’t hatch then or were maybe predated by a grey heron or such-like.

A grey heron on the prowl.

Friday September 28, saw the first notable sighting of winter thrushes in the Surrey area at Unstead sewage farm, by regular birdwatcher Brian, who reported 20 redwing and a fieldfare (arriving no doubt from Scandinavia). Flying overhead on the same day were as many as 1,200 swallows, heading south.

Long tailed tit.

On Monday, October 1, I took advantage of a few dry hours late in the afternoon with a cycle ride out to Bowers Lock, Burpham, via Stoke Lake, stopping off along the way to take a few pictures of one of my favourite little birds – the long-tailed tit.

A barn owl – can you spot him?

On arriving at Bowers Lock just before dusk I was fortunate to catch sight of a barn owl quartering the field beyond the lock. This I have witnesses on several evenings since. Despite the fading light, I did manage a few distant shots as it spent a while resting in a tree.

A personal addition to this report is despite what some may proclaim about climate change, I’m getting a ‘gut’ feeling, although I hope I’m wrong, that we’re due for another severely cold winter. Therefore, I’ve added a few pictures in the gallery at the top of the page of the delightful birds you might be able to see on your feeders this winter, as well as a few other birds I have photographed in and around Stoke Lake over the last few weeks.

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.20

  1. Caroline Miller

    October 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I was interested in reading these articles about birdwatching and was wondering whether there are any birdwatching groups/events in the Guildford/Godalming/Haslemere areas?

    Can any other readers help please?

    • Malcolm Fincham

      October 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Thank you for the interest shown in my reports. Unfortunately, I must confess I haven’t done much research on this subject, as I have always been quite content venturing out on my own.. I have however, just found a link that might be of interest which I have added…..

      I will continue to my research into this subject and make a point of announcing any events I get to hear of in future reports .. I would also welcome anyone else who reads my reports to let me know on this website

  2. Caroline Miller

    October 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you very much. I recognise your name and think we might have known each other in a ‘former life’ 🙂