Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.25

Published on: 19 Dec, 2012
Updated on: 19 Dec, 2012

By Malcolm Fincham

Since my previous report on waxwings I’m pleased to say that there have been a number of sightings locally in the last few days.

There was a group of more than 40 in Ewell, north Surrey, and  just a few in the Worplesdon area on December 12, with five reported being seen in Onslow Village in the last day or two.

It’s still early days, so although I’ve been on a few ‘fruitless’ missions checking berry bushes on my travels, I’m still optimistic that I’ll be able to enter some up to date pictures to my diary this winter.

A frosty morning recently.

A frosty morning recently.

My predictions of a severe winter were also beginning to look quite real. Although the frosty mornings  have been very picturesque, with even one brief spell of snow pictured on this website. However, with worrying concerns over fuel bills these days, it is good to have temperatures back to the seasonal norm for the time being.

Sharp frost.

Sharp frost.

Speaking of picturesque, most most of my best sightings and pictures in the last week or so have come from sewage farms!

Red kite over Unstead sewage farm.

Red kite over Unstead sewage farm.

My first was at Unstead sewage farm near Godalming  were I viewed on December 4, with Brian a fellow bird watcher, a red kite flying south. That’s an unusual sighting for this part of Surrey at this time of the year.

I was also updated and corrected about an item in my previous report when I stated that the great white egret was a ‘fly over’ when in fact it did spend at least 45 minutes on one of the lagoons at Unstead. Another missed photo opportunity!

Fieldfare at Slyfield.

Fieldfare at Slyfield.

On Sunday, December 9, I found time to enjoy an hour near Guildford sewage works – walking along the track that leads from Stoke Lock cottage and the Slyfield recycling depot. I took some nice pictures of a fieldfare and counted at least six bullfinches – distinguishable by their white rumps as they flew away. However, I was fortunate to catch a picture of a female before it made off to join the others.

Bullfinch female

Female bullfinch.

I have also added  picture of a male bullfinch I took a short while back to show the contrast in colour between the two.

Male bullfinch.

Male bullfinch.

Also to my surprise I counted at least four chiffchaffs. Being members of the family of warblers and a very similar looking bird to the willow warbler which migrates to Africa, the chiffchaff, with slightly shorter wings than the ‘willow’, tends to only migrate to the Mediterranean regions. But a few brave (or lazy) ones see out the winter in the south of the UK.

Chiff chaff


My main interest in the last week or so has been visiting Bowers Lock at Burpham where I have continued to get good views (and pictures) of the barn owl. It often shows well before dusk, and also often too early for its own good as in daylight it will get ‘mobbed’ by a corvid or two, as shown in the series of pictures below.

Barn Owl (2)

Barn Owl 4

Barn Owl 2



Barn Owl being mobbed by a Crow





Bar Owl takes shelter from attack by Crow

To finish off the week on Saturday, December 15, I was pleased (and surprised) to have another red kite sighting, this time in Wonersh. And I also managed to get a picture for my record books before it drifted south.

Red kite over Wonersh Park.

Red kite over Wonersh Park.

Finally. I’m not likely to be able to bring you two turtle doves this time of year, so I’ve included a photo of two collard doves as a seasonal cheer instead!

Two collared doves.....

Two collared doves…..

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.25

  1. Paul balchin Reply

    December 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Very much enjoy your diary, as a former Guildford resident I read it with great interest. Living here in Bridport, Dorset, it’s nice to keep in touch with Surrey wildlife.
    PS: I had a lovely view of a black redstart looking for food outside the factory window where I work. Have a good Christmas – Paul Balchin.

  2. malcolm Fincham Reply

    December 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Paul
    Thank you for your complimentary remarks, it’s always encouraging to get feedback.
    Nice ‘spot’ with the ‘black redstart’ not seen one myself for a few years now, last time was when on a spring holiday in Cornwall!
    I haven’t been idle since ‘report 25’ so I hope to continue to keep everyone [including yourself] interested with some recent sightings and pictures of some of my favorite winter birds which I hope to enter in my next report before the new year…
    Wishing you and all my readers a great Christmas !!

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