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Birdwatcher’s Diary No.251

Published on: 29 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 30 Mar, 2022

By Malcolm Fincham

Above average temperatures and bright spells continued into March. Although breezes remained cool it was dry for the most part.

See also: Birdwatchers Diary Makes the “Fee” Worth It

This gave me the opportunity of a few visits to Tice’s Meadow, between Badshot Lea and Farnham, during the first weeks of the month. Not only did it give me the chance to meet again with some of the friendly birdwatching team there, but also observe the continuing preservation work achieved by their ‘work party’ teams. “Build it and they will come” is an apt saying when it comes to wildlife.

Brambling, this one photographed on Crooksbury Common.

Despite the fact that wintering redwings and bramblings were still lingering locally, the first signs of spring were slowly but surely becoming evident.

Chiffchaff, Tice’s Meadow.

Chiffchaffs had now broken into their basic but welcomed summer song. Heard now at various locations, including at Tice’s.

Cormorants, Tice’s Meadow.

A “gulp” of cormorants could be viewed lined up on the fence posts out on the water.

Red kite, Tice’s Meadow.

A red kite was a regular sight, often gliding low over the viewing mound.

Little egret at Tice’s Meadow.

Two little egrets were a regular sight.

Little egret, Tice’s Meadow.

Often flying up from the stream when least expected.

Grey heron, Tice’s Meadow.

And grey herons are always present.

Great crested grebe, Tice’s Meadow.

Great crested grebes were rapidly changing into summer plumage.

Previously taken photo of a green sandpiper.

Although too distant to photo, a couple of green sandpipers could be viewed on the far “scrape” through a “scope”. They were a first this year, for me.

Goldfinches at a feeding station, Tice’s Meadow.

At a feeding station, several of the more common garden birds could be viewed. Allowing a few “at one” moments with the various finches feeding.

Dunnock.

While several dunnocks scurried about on the ground picking up fallen seed.

I was also able to see a few more over-wintering butterflies now on the wing as the month progressed. They started to emerge on the warmer days.

Brimstone butterfly, Tice’s Meadow.

These included a few brimstone butterflies. Now emerging from hibernation, they are thought to be the longest living of our UK species, with a life span of up to 10 months.

Brimstones are also thought to be the origination of the name butterfly because of their bright yellow colour.

Small tortoiseshell.

Also now seen were small tortoiseshells.

Peacock butterfly.

Peacock butterflies were also in good number.

Comma butterfly.

While a few comma butterflies were starting to emerge.

Red admiral butterfly.

Red admiral butterflies could be seen at various locations. Often with open wings, warming themselves in the sunlight.

Local to home, a few species of insects had begun to emerge, drawn out by the warmth of the sun. At Britten’s Pond, by March 10 temperatures in Surrey had reached the mid-teens making it the warmest day of the year so far.

Solitary bee.

A small group of solitary bees could be seen buzzing around by the water’s edge. My attempts to look them up later that day suggested to me that they were andrena clarkella. Although if wrong, I am sure I will find a correction in the comments section below!

Roe deer.

In the field just beyond Britten’s Pond two roe deer could be seen. The stag easily recognised by its antlers, velvet in appearance while in their spring growth.

My first singing chiffchaff at that location could now be heard too.

Great spotted woodpecker.

While in among the trees close to the railway line a pair of great spotted woodpeckers could be seen and heard “drumming”.

Treecreeper, Whitmoor Common.

Adding to the photos, I was able to capture a treecreeper as it elevated itself up a tree, seeking insects.

Nuthatch.

The sounds of nuthatches revealed their locations in trees still bare of leaf.

Long-tailed tits’ nest.

A pair of long-tailed tits were already adding their final touches to the nest they had been making.

Common buzzard, this one pictured at the Riverside Nature Reserve.

The recent days of blue skies and sunshine meant that common buzzards could regularly be viewed circling overhead.

Red kite, this one photographed at Tice’s Meadow.

A pair of red kites continued to be a regular sight over the gardens over Stoughton and Rydes Hill.

Redwing.

While watching the jackdaws heading to their daily roost site from my garden, a large group of 200 or more, high-flying birds could be viewed flying north-east. Almost certainly all redwings. No doubt they were heading for their summer breeding grounds across the North Sea.

Cetti’s warbler, this one seen earlier this year at the Riverside Nature Reserve.

At the Riverside Nature Reserve, near Burpham, early in the month a Cetti’s warbler could be heard calling on occasions.

Drake teal by the boardwalk at the Riverside Nature Reserve.

A few teal still lingered, one drake showing surprisingly well.

Stonechat by Stoke Lake at the Riverside Nature Reserve.

A pair of stonechats were also a surprise sighting, both seen perched up in the hawthorn at the southern end of the lake.

An opportunity to visit Staines Reservoir with Dougal, helped me to add a few more sightings and photos to this year’s listings.

Drake scaup at Staines Reservoir.

One of which was a drake scaup that was showing extremely well close to the causeway.

Black-necked grebe at Staines Reservoir.

Although having already seen black-necked grebes there earlier in the year, they were much closer on this occasion. Because of better light I could achieve better photos of them, and now coming into their summer plumage too.

Great crested grebes having a snooze at Staines Reservoir.

A pair of great crested grebes drifted past, snoozing with heads tucked in, although still totally aware of what was going on about them.

Goldeneye.

Soon to migrate north to their breeding grounds, a few goldeneye duck were still present.

A drake hybrid scaup, with a darker coloured back was also present, with tufted ducks at Staines Reservoir.

Along with rafts of tufted ducks and shovelers.

Shoveller ducks.

Water pipit at Staines Reservoir.

While a few wintering water pipits had stopped off, passing through on passage.

White wagtail at Staines Reservoir.

As well as a few white wagtails among the pied wagtails there.

Little ringed plover at Staines Reservoir.

A little ringed plover was a welcome addition, and my first summer visitor from Africa, showing well by the causeway.

Distant fox at Staines Reservoir.

On the far bank of the north basin, in the direction of Heathrow Airport, a fox could be seen.

Red kite, at Staines Reservoir.

While another opportunistic hunter of carrion, the red kite, could be seen drifting by.

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