Holmethorpe Sand Pits ... 5th January 2011

A visit from Beddington birders Johnny 'Badgeman' Allan, Roger 'Dodge' Browne and Frank 'T Bros' Prater this morning to search for the Smew, Goldeneye and Waxwings produced two hits and a miss.

We couldn't find the two Smew on Mercers Lake that I had seen yesterday (although a Water Rail was squealing from somewhere along Redhill Brook) but Johnny suggested that they may have moved to one of the other pits and he was dead right - at Mercers West Pit there were three female SMEW present. Distant views, but good enough for additions to their Surrey year lists. Despite a thorough scan of the pit, no Goldeneye seemed to be present but there were still reasonable numbers of Gadwall and Teal, a pair of Wigeon and two Snipe.

Johnny, Frank and Roger at Mercers West Pit

The three female SMEW together on the ice at Mercers West Pit

We then headed back to scan Mercers Lake again but nothing of note was showing. On past the Water Colour Lagoons, where there were several Great Black-backed and Lesser Blacked Gulls, through the tunnel under the railway line and on through the Holmethorpe Industrial Estate to the footbridge over the railway line by Frenches Road. Soon the Beddington lads were on to eight WAXWINGS perched distantly in a tall tree. Again, not the best of views but good enough for a tick. A female Blackcap was again in a garden near the footbridge.

I returned to the Water Colour Lagoons for a short while after Johnny, Roger and Frank had set off back to Beddington, but apart from a pair of Pochards, not much else of note was on show.

Male TUFTED DUCK and male POCHARD at Water Colour Lagoon 2

I later heard that local birder Jerry Blumire had seen nine WAXWINGS from the same footbridge, so it would appear that there are more birds still present in the area than we thought. By mid-afternoon this was confirmed when Neil Randon saw, from the footbridge, 30+ WAXWINGS feeding on an apple tree in a back garden by the railway line.


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