The ramblings of an all-round naturalist based in north Surrey
Just enough to keep things ticking over
Bunting Meadow, Priest Hill, looking north-east
A three hour visit to Priest Hill this morning was a largely quiet affair, with few grounded migrants and an even emptier sky, although a Hobby did zip through southwards and two Little Egrets made their way south-westwards - so not really that empty after all! The totals of Willow Warblers passing through are very poor indeed, and it seems as if Chiffchaffs are outnumbering them, something that I wouldn't expect to happen until later in the month - however, there is still time for them to show, although we are fast approaching mid-month. The garden MV is hardly bustling either, with just the odd Dark Sword-grass and Jersey Tiger to keep me awake while I work my way through the trap (not that it takes that long to do so).
I don't know what has sparked it off, but a number of birders on social media have voiced their dissatisfaction about the way in which certain organisations are managing nature reserves. Along with my thoughts about the Surrey Wildlife Trust's custodianship of Holmethorpe (see last post), there have been missiles lobbed at the Kent Wildlife Trust (Oare Marshes) and the RSPB (Dungeness). I can add my two-pennies about the latter... The reserve at Dungeness has come on an awful long way since my first visit in 1976. There has been much beneficial habitat creation, with 'new' reed beds that now support Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits, and a mosaic of water bodies that are excellent for wildlife beyond birds. The visitor centre, when it was opened, was a massive step up from the wooden hut that used to stand there. And where there was just the one hide, at least nine are now scattered across the reserve. So, what's not to like? If I were being uncharitable, th
It is raining outside, Covid lockdown still has its grip upon us, so, as a refuge, let us travel back in time and revisit a bird that caused many eyebrows to be raised and a rarities committee to pronounce it as 'not proven'. I give you one White-cheeked Tern, at Dungeness, Kent on 13th May 1989. These are my notes that were submitted to the BBRC at the time. —————————————————————————————————————————— At approximately 10.00hrs, P Boxall, JP Siddle and RE Turley and myself were sitting in the common room at Dungeness Bird Observatory when two birdwatchers came into the room and, whilst chatting to us, casually mentioned that they had been watching a tern feeding over the 'patch'. They described it as being "a Black Tern with with white cheeks which was as large as a Common Tern". All four of us left our hot drinks and drove to the area of beach opposite the 'patch' - an area of sea disturbed by the power station outflow some 100m offshore. When we scann
Sometimes you are in the right place, at the right time. And sometimes you are only in the right place at the right time because you have stood there for days on end, waiting for it to happen. Today it happened. It has become a bit of an 'October thing' over my garden, here in Banstead - a day (or two) of concentrated diurnal Redwing passage, so much so that I stand outside the house, at dawn from October 1st, waiting for it to commence. My previous back garden successes have included: 7,724 west at on 12 October 2020 5,334 west on 15 October 2020 4,145 west on 8 October 2018 3,203 west on 13 October 2020 The Surrey record, up until this morning, stood at 15,000 west at Beddington SF on 12 October 1997. I had no expectation of ever reaching that figure, and thought that my 7,724 from last autumn was a bit of a one-off. How wrong was I... It started to look good yesterday afternoon/evening, with the Flysafe/BirdTAM website offering up graphs and charts that predicted the follow