Holmethorpe Sand Pits, Surrey ... 2nd-5th December 2010

On Thursday 2nd December, local birder Gordon found 4 PINK-FOOTED GEESE on one of the pits. They stayed for an hour and a half before flying off high to the south-west. This was frustrating for me as I was on my way to assist my wife to walk home from work in the snow and this involved an eleven mile walk in the snow. I was on my way when I received the news of the geese via Paul. As I passed the pits I scanned the area where Gordon had seen them but, as I only had my bins with me, all I could make out was a large group of geese with four smaller geese nearby. In fact, I wasn’t that sure that they were actually geese from that distance. I didn’t have time to approach the pit closer, so headed on. A missed local and Surrey tick for me but, as I am not much of a lister, I have not lost any sleep over it.
Gordon also logged three female SMEW, a female GOLDENEYE, a SHELDUCK, a couple of Water Rails and two overwintering Chiffchaffs amongst others in the area.

I met up with Gordon on Friday 3rd and Gordon saw one female SMEW on Mercers Lake (in fact he saw it twice but I was suffering from Smew-blindness). We refound the female GOLDENEYE and SHELDUCK and a pair of MANDARINS were on Mercers Lake. We logged a new record count of 116 Gadwall around the pits and other birds noted included 3 Water Rails, 3 Siskins, a Green Sandpiper, a LITTLE EGRET , a Kingfisher and an exceptional count of six overwintering Chiffchaffs.

Saturday 4th saw Gordon out again and he found 2 female SMEW on Mercers Lake, but a boat disturbed them and they took flight, two female GOLDENEYE were on Mercers West Pit and a Green Sandpiper was also noted there. A new local record count was made of at least 300 Tufted Ducks around the pits.

Sunday 5th saw local birder Ian logging the female GOLDENEYE and the Green Sandpiper and another Holmethorpe stalwart, Jerry, adding a Kingfisher (Jerry's photos below) and five Redpolls to the day’s tally.

Mid-morning, news came through from Johnny Allan at Beddington that a juvenile Common Crane had landed at Beddington SF.
Frank Prater had seen it flying in and it had dropped in on one of the lakes. Even more amazing is that this is the second record of this species for the Beddington birders this year! They had a fly-by bird on the 1st of May.
Beddington birder Roger 'Dodge' Browne has a brilliant video of this bird -click HERE to watch it.

Over 100 birders managed to see this bird and add it to their Surrey lists. Unfortunately, I was having a painful joints day and decided that, despite Gordon’s kind offer to take me to see the bird, I would be better off staying at home.

It is time for Holmethorpe Sand Pits to produce a mega-tick for Surrey – watch this space!


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