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.

Tuesday 17 July 2018


While many birders have been focusing on butterflies, dragonflies and moths I have been out birding – a little bit at least – during what is generally regarded as the close season for birds.

During this glorious summer we are having, I took in a second visit to Thursley Common last week to catch up with the male Red-backed Shrike. I had made a failed attempt a couple of weeks before when the bird first went missing having been seen consistently viewed near the Pudmore Ponds area.

That day turned out to be a bit of a disastrous attempt to visit the Common as the local village was hosting some event around the car park area, with a loud PA and plenty of excitable children around the place. Not what you expect from a visit to this normally serene site. No wonder the Shrike had gone into hiding that day.

I wasn't expecting it to be seen again but luckily local Homethorpe birder Richard Perry rediscovered it in a fenced-off area where a small herd of Belted Galloway cattle were grazing a few days later. I put the word out on Rare Bird Alert and headed over there myself later that week.

The male Red-backed Shrike
It was a searingly hot day – hardly ideal conditions for walking around the dusty, tinder-dry Common – but there were a few birders around looking for the Shrike. I focused on watching a few Dartford Warbler before making a circuit of the area, and was fortunate to find the Red-backed Shrike perched up on some shrubbery. This was my first for Surrey, which was nice. The views were distant but that didn't matter. A very smart bird.

One of the juvenile Black-winged Stilt at Oare Marshes
I popped in at Oare Marshes on Monday, after a visit to Margate to take my mum to a hospital appointment. I didn't stay long, but the two adult Black-winged Stilt and two juveniles were easy to locate on the East Flood, unlike the Bonaparte's Gull, which was no doubt on the estuary somewhere with the tide out.

I occasionally have taken a short walk around the Water Colour and Moors areas of my local patch at Holmethorpe during the early summer, with a pair of Common Tern successfully breeding on Mercer's Lake on one of the pontoons there – only the second successful attempt on the site.

The first of three chicks currently survives, but there is a long way to go before we can truly celebrate.

1 comment:

  1. Really striking looking bird! I have never seen a Black-winged Stilt before, really wonderful photography. Nice work. Thanks for the share, hope you had a fantastic weekend. Keep up the posts.

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