Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.27

Published on: 15 Jan, 2013
Updated on: 15 Jan, 2013

By Malcolm Fincham

I began the new year with a walk around Stoke lake. This was followed by a trip to North Camp to revisit the waxwings to take a few more photos and add them to my ‘List for this year’. I also added one of a redwing feeding near by.

Waxwing at North Camp/

Waxwing at North Camp.

Redwing at North Camp.

Redwing at North Camp.

With the weather being so mild, I decided that I’m far better with my bird predictions than my  forecasting (for those who have followed my reports). This was compounded when I walked down to my garden shed late that evening only to see of all things a hedgehog walking across the path in front of me!

Hedgehog on a visit to my conservatory.

Hedgehog on a visit to my conservatory.

A regular visitor to my garden during the summer months and occasionally visiting my conservatory (when I forget to shut the door), but certainly an unexpected visitor and a first for me at this time of year.

Distinctive shape of a red kite in flight, with a gull.

Distinctive shape of a red kite in flight, with a gull.

Red kites, normally sighted between spring and autumn drifting through the county, have continued to be reported locally in the west Surrey area in the last few weeks. This was a bird once regularly seen over the streets of London in pre-Victorian times – before they became persecuted to the verge of extinction in the UK  in the last century. Now maybe just a ‘pipe dream’, but wouldn’t they be a wondrous sight to once again take up residence in the Surrey Hills alongside our now resident common buzzards?

Tufted ducks on Stoke Lake.

Tufted ducks on Stoke Lake.

Having suffered another week of overcast skies, and although the weather had become considerably colder too, I decided to pack my camera and take a walk out to Bowers Lock via Stoke Lake on Sunday, January 13, to see what was on view and with the hope of a few pictures along the way. Other than a flyover of both a kestrel and a buzzard, most of the activity was on the lake with the usual tufted ducks, coots and mallard on the water, as well as two great crested grebe and six gadwall.

Drake and duck wigeon.

Drake and duck wigeon.

My most pleasing sightings however were at the narrow part at the far end of the lake where I took a few photos of a pair of wigeon. These ducks breed as far north as Iceland, with many visiting the UK in large numbers on much more vast expanses of water than at Stoke Lake. So it’s always nice to see the usual few that arrive here at the start of the new year.



While taking a few pictures I was surprised by a small flash of blue that passed by me; and perched on a branch across the water from where I stood, this was of course a kingfisher. I was fortunate enough to grab a few quick snaps before a couple of dog walkers, totally oblivious to its existence, spooked it off up the lake.

The barn owl at Bower Lock pictured on December 11.

The barn owl at Bower Lock pictured on December 11.

On arriving at Bowers Lock I observed a number of ‘mixed flocks’ of tits and finches, including siskins and a separate flock of redpolls, all feeding on the catkins in the tall alder trees along the towpath. I was pleased to see that, although not out hunting, the resident barn owl was still able to be viewed. However, speaking to a fellow wildlife enthusiast I was saddened to be informed that my previous observations had been correct (as noted in a picture I took on December 11) in that it has only one eye. Fortunately, using its acute hearing for catching its prey, it seems to have adapted and has overcome its disability extremely well.

A light dusting of snow on Monday, January 14.

A light dusting of snow on Monday, January 14.

As a final addition to my report, on Monday, January 14, I woke up early to a fine dusting of snow and was able to take a few pictures on my travels. With the Atlantic Jet Stream now being blocked by a very cold eastern European land mass, could this be just the start to more cold winter weeks to come?

Snow falls - albeit lightly.

Snow falls – albeit lightly.

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.27

  1. Steve Balchin Reply

    January 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Another interesting report including some wonderful photography. The pictures are glorious and I would love to see more!

  2. John Schluter Reply

    January 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm


    I also was alerted to the Waxwing berry raiding party and took some photographs as posted on my Flickr page.


  3. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    January 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Thank you for your lovely pictures of waxwings, they certainly out-shine my EOS 600d camera for sharpness and quality.
    I’m sure you found it a great experience (as i did) to watch them. Have just viewed nine more waxwings in Peasmarsh but only had my small ‘bridge camera’ at the time. Hope to enter a few of the pictures into my next report.
    Note to all my readers … Any latest interesting local wildlife related pictures or stories are always welcome (even if they’re better than mine) on this website, if you wish to share them.

  4. Tina Reply

    January 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Lovely pictures Mal, as always. Well done. It makes the time you spend wandering around the countryside all worth while! x

  5. Sammy Baumwall Reply

    January 27, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I love all your snow pics. All gone now, but with the sun and a degree of warmth the birds are certainly getting busy. Have you ever considered offering bird walks/meets for fellow enthusiasts?

  6. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    January 28, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Hi Sammy
    Thank you for the complimentary remarks on my pics.
    Unfortunately with my work commitments it’s not easy for me to organise bird walk events. Although a great idea [and something maybe worth considering in the future] will continue you to bring you [and all my readers] up to date pictures and stories as and when i get the chance to do so.

  7. Sammy Baumwall Reply

    February 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for your updates. Are there particular places that ‘beginner’ birdwatchers might go to meet or accompany birdwatchers with experience? I am a total novice and would like some guidance where to start, what to look for, etc.

  8. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    February 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Hi Sammy,

    Thank-you for your interest in my diary reports.The only organisation I know of is run by the RSPB. Go to the following link on the internet to read more:

    I personally recommend putting bird feeders up in your garden, then maybe take take some photos of what you see. If you are not sure what they are, you can identify them later.

    With the pocket-sized zoom cameras you can buy these days, it’s well worth investing in one to take on your travels too!

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