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 15 January 2019


Well, it took some time – but I finally managed to see my first Yellow-browed Warbler and a Surrey one at that. Yes, I know – how on earth have I managed not to see one all this time? It's not like they are mega-rare. In fact, some years they are prolific. 

I wrote about this taxing birding issue in 2016 here.

Anyway, it was on my British bogey bird list until Monday. But even then, the little blighter did its best to test my patience.

Dave Harris discovered the little warbler at Molesey Heath on Saturday, alongside the river next to Island Barn reservoir. It was an excellent find and it had been showing well. I hadn't an opportunity to go and twitch it until Monday after lunch, but seeing as it was still present I went out for what was my first 2019 birding sortie.

It only took 35 minutes to get there as the traffic was pretty quiet and after walking along the river bank I came across three fellow birders, including Bill Dyke. Predictably, I had arrived too late, having been told it had been showing well for quite a while but had just flown off down river.

The Yellow-browed Warbler at Molesey Heath
From that point on it was a case of searching for any bird flitting around the trees and scrub alongside the river banks. We heard it calling, which helped but a possible sighting was only fleeting as it disappeared once again. Once my companions headed off, I had to wait a good hour and was five minutes away from aborting the task and sulking all the way home when I got my first proper view of the Yellow-browed Warbler.

Having noticed a small flock of Long-tailed Tit on the opposite river bank, the flock flew over to my side of the river and next to the footpath. And immediately I noticed the Yellow-browed Warbler among them.

It didn't always stick with the flock, often going off on its own, calling occasionally, but it was good to have a bit of time to enjoy a decent Surrey bird.

It never stayed still for very long
So what's next on the bogey list? The first one is Twite. I never got to see the Beddington bird last year but three currently reside at Rye Harbour, and I hope they stay long enough for me to take a trip into Kent.

There are plenty of others that this year I would like to strike off my British bogey list. Some I almost wince to mention  so much so I won't actually mention a couple of them! I've a list of about 40 that should be possible in 2019. They include plenty of seabirds – a trip on a boat off Penzance is in order this year. It is something I really want to do if I have time. Then I would hope to tick off a few Storm Petrels and a couple of Shearwaters.

Of the others, the most glaring omissions are Ring-billed Gull, Roseate Tern, Honey-buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Little Auk, Woodchat Shrike, Icterine Warbler and Bluethroat – as well as resident birds such as Chough, Willow Tit and Cirl Bunting. Then there's all the Scottish residents too – but they will have to wait another year.

Two birds I would really like to see, just because they are two personal favourites, are Sabine's Gull and Golden Oriole. So, as you can see, there are plenty of gaping holes in my British list.

Should I care? Not really. A bird list is really just a personal thing, that no-one else really gives a toss about. I used to be a bit obsessed with listing but I now only twitch a new bird when the mood takes me, and when it is close enough to home not to be an act of endurance.

I missed a pair of Goosander on the Holmethorpe patch, found by Gordon Hay on Monday afternoon, as it was dark by the time I got back to Redhill. Strange how things change. Holmethorpe was always a dead cert for Smew each winter, while Goosander was as rare as rocket horse shit.

But now the roles have reversed and Goosander has appeared for the third year in a row, with Smew missing for the same amount of time.

1 comment:

  1. Very, very pleased for you Neil. The first of many successes this year I hope!