Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.234

Published on: 24 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2021

By Malcolm Fincham

Breaking out from my pandemic shackles, I was now legally permitted to travel further for my observations.

Despite rain early in May, in general it had been a great time for ventures further afield to catch up with some of the birds I hadn’t yet seen this year. And to adhere to some promised meetings.

One such overdue visit was to meet up with Guildford Dragon NEWS’s Effingham Eye correspondent Chris Dick, to check out the re-wilding scheme at Effingham Golf Club.

Effingham Golf Club.

I met up with Chris in the car park where I was introduced to the head groundsman, John Budd.

Having exchanged a few light-hearted tales, Chris and I were entrusted to roam the course, with a promise not to interfere with the golfers, and to watch out for their golf balls.

Wild flowers that had been sown could already be seen pushing through the long grass that bordered the fairway. They were already attracting a varied empire of insects.

Male orange tip butterfly, Effingham Golf Club.

A number of early summer butterflies were sampling the delights on offer. These included orange tips enjoying their food plants, which included lady’s smock.

Dingy skipper butterfly, Effingham Golf Club.

Dingy skippers could be seen chasing one another in flight. It took much patience for one to settle for a photo.

Brimstone butterfly, Effingham Golf Club.

Brimstone butterflies also proved to be a challenge, eventually having to be satisfied with a few in-flight shots.

Small heath butterfly, Effingham Golf Club.

Easier to photograph and now emerging in good numbers there were small heath butterflies.

On the lower reaches of the golf club a pond has been made, doubling up as a reservoir to water the greens when required.

Carp in a pond at Effingham Golf Club.

In the pond a variety of carp could be seen.

Swallow in flight over the pond at Effingham Golf Club.

Taking advantage of the flying insects, the water had attracted a pair of swallows, regularly hawking over its surface for food.

A group of house sparrows had taken up residence in the brambles to the back of the pond.

Common whitethroat at Effingham Golf Club.

Two common whitethroats could also be heard in song.

Sparrowhawk circling over Effingham Golf Club.

The visit concluded with the sighting of a sparrowhawk circling some distance away.


To my surprise and our delight, it headed our way allowing me a few record shots as it flew overhead.

We parted hoping to meet again in the near future. Maybe July, if all goes well.

Feasting on my freedoms, Farlington  Marshes near Porstmouth opened its arms. I hadn’t visited for a good while and its where a variety of species can be seen that very seldom can be found in Surrey.

Bearded tits are always one of my favourites there. Now officially referred to as bearded reedlings, these delightful little gems can be awkward to see, especially in spring and summer.

Bearded tit (reedling) at Farlington Marshes.

During winter months they feed on the seed heads of the reeds and can be viewed more often. At this time of the year, however, they had changed their diet to insects, so were spending most of their time low in the reeds.

The usual sound of those elusive Cetti’s warblers could also be heard singing, seemingly teasingly calling often from within a bush I had just walked past.

Cetti’s warbler singing at Farlington Marshes.

Fortunately, an unusually showy one near the visitor hut was willing to give itself up long enough for a photo.

Sedge warbler.

A few sedge warblers showed well, singing from the tops of bushes.

Brent geese previously photographed at Farlington.

A few of the large wintering contingent of brent geese remained, most having returned on their 2,500-mile migration back to their breeding grounds in northern Russia.

Russian white-fronted goose (foreground), at Farlington.

Surprisingly, one of the previous winter’s influx of Russian whit- fronted geese was also still present.

Barnacle goose at Farlington.

A barnacle goose, possibly originally of feral stock, was also feeding among the Canada geese.


Avocets were a new additions to this year’s sightings.

Black-tailed godwits at Farlington.

While on the lagoon, black-tailed godwits could be viewed, most now in their summer plumage.

Mediterranean gulls at Farlington.

Mediterranean gulls have become a regular sight at Farlington in recent years, especially during spring when they start to “colour-up” into their summer plumage.

Gargany at Farlington Marshes.

Another new sighting for my year’s tally was a garganey.

Red-breasted megansers at Langstone Harbour.

Out in Langstone Harbour, was a small group of red-breasted mergansers.

Curlews at Farlington Marshes.

A flock of curlews could also be viewed.


Greenfinches are a common sight there.

Skylark at Farlington.

While the sound of skylarks filled the air.


Joined by lapwings calling.

Little egret at Farlington.

Although little egrets can be seen locally, they continue to be a pleasant a sighting at Farlington.

Kestrel at Farlington.

At least two kestrels could be seen. One of which I was able to “snatch” a lucky shot of as it flew at speed past me, along the inland side of the sea wall.

Meadow pipit at Farlington.

Meadow pipits were looking especially flirtatious, some singing vivaciously from fence posts.

Sandwich tern.

Sandwich terns were a new sighting for me this year.

Little tern at Farlington.

As well as sandwich terns and common terns, little terns had recently returned to breed among various gull species on a small island. These were viewed from the eastern wall in the direction of Hayling Island.

Little ringed plovers at Farlington.

A pair of little ringed plovers could be viewed on one of the many inland scrapes.


And the usual large groups of shelducks continued to be present.

From Farlington, I set off along the M27 across Hampshire into West Sussex and a visit to Pagham RSPB Nature Reserve.

Ringed plover.

Added to this year’s sightings included ringed plovers, adding to the little ringed plovers I had seen earlier that day at Farlington.

Spotted redshank.

I also had the good fortune to photo a spotted redshank. A good addition to the common redshanks I had previously seen that day.


I also added a whimbrel and some turnstones.

Marsh harrier.

And even a marsh harrier.


Also getting some photos of oystercatchers.

Reed warbler.

A reed warbler.

Willow warbler.

Willow warbler.




And even a fox.

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.234

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    June 25, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Malcolm’s photo of a bearded tit should win an award – with a bonus for artistic merit.

    Not the easiest bird to see let alone photograph. Thank you for sharing it with us Malcolm.

  2. John Ferns Reply

    June 25, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    It is always a joy to view the latest contributions from the Dragon’s birdwatcher. Wonderful photography, brought even more vividly to life by his delightful captioning and accompanying text. Long may he continue.

    Thank you, Malcolm.

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