Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.

Monday 10 March 2014


We're into that transitional period when the spring migrants are just starting to drift over in dribs and drabs from the continent. Maybe that's why I'm finding birding a hard grind at the moment.

Since my last trip out I've ventured up to Beddington to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in the woods just to the north of Biker's Field. A male and a female had been displaying well for the past couple of days and I thought it would simply be a case of turning up and viewing with ease.

I tried on Thursday afternoon, spending three hours traipsing around the woods and also along the footpath that runs alongside the golf course to the north of 100 acre. Nothing. I think I saw the pair flying above me for a split second before they disappeared, but I couldn't be certain.

It was demotivating, that's for sure. With little time to spare, I find I'm spending more time trying to go for an easy twitch than taking a casual walk somewhere with few expectations.

With no time left to go anywhere else, I went back at first light the next morning. This time I was lucky and within a minute of arrival I heard the distinctive drumming and calling, and moments later I found the female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on the trunk of a small oak.

Thank Christ for that! It soon flew across the wood and I relocated it sharing another tree with a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which was an opportunity to compare the size difference.

I moved round for a better look and it disappeared. And that was the last time I saw it, hence no digiscope images.

A sense of relief, more actually than satisfaction. That's got to be wrong, but that was how I felt, which is a shame.

On Saturday, after another radio slot on Annie's Saturday morning breakfast show on Redstone FM (local to Surrey, south London and north Sussex, online and DAB), when I discussed the spring migration and what I hoped to see during the weekend, I went off to Leith Hill, where I met up with Paul Stevenson.

With the dry period we're having at the moment I was hoping (always a longshot) that the Two-barred Crossbill may make an appearance near the Coldharbour cricket pitch, to drink from the pool there.

A singing Woodlark on Leith Hill was the highlight of the day
Six Crossbills flew over during the afternoon, but sadly the Two-barred stayed away. Not much was happening in the stiff breeze, apart from a singing Woodlark, which was nice to see.

On the way to Banstead to the shops (I had errands to attend to) I popped in at Mickleham to try and find some Marsh Tit, but drew a blank. With time running out, I paid a quick visit to Banstead Golf Course to dip the Firecrest and then on to Sutton where I located the pair of Peregrine high up on Quadrant House.

The male Peregrine perched high up on Quadrant House in Sutton
With the light fading, a quick walk round the local patch produced little of interest apart from the resident Little Owl in the oak on Mercers Farm close to the footpath.

I was out all day yesterday when the news came through of a pair of summer-plumage Black-necked Grebe had turned up on Mercer's Lake, found by the Surrey Bird Club group on their planned visit. A local patch mega.

No sign of them this morning. Tedious and people reading this blog must think the same thing as I'm conscious the blog is currently an uninspired read. Compared to other blogs, I need to do much better and not just churn out dull and repetitive tales of woe (like this one).

It also occurred to me that I'm frantically chasing a Surrey list again, when I told myself I wouldn't. There just isn't much point in me doing one this year because the amount of time I can spend is minimal compared to others. And all that happens is I repeat the process year in, year out and pretty much in the same order.

I haven't really enjoyed any of it. I need a rethink.


  1. I feel your pain Neil, so much so that I've got a post out of it... thanks!

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