Holmethorpe Sand Pits, Surrey ... 6th - 11th January 2011

On Thursday the 6th January, local birder Jerry Blumire found the first Green Sandpiper of the year at Mercers West Pit at Holmethorpe and the following day Matt Farmer located a decent flock of over 50 Siskins at Mercers Country Park car park and also had two Rooks fly over. Rooks are never a common species at Holmethorpe, despite the local farmland, and often this species will go unreported for weeks at a time throughout the year. Only a few miles away, at Godstone, there is a healthy breeding population but they don’t seem to stray too far from there. Also on the 7th two female SMEW were reported to have been seen at the pits and Neil Randon reported that up to 30 WAXWINGS were along Frenches Road and Alpine Road in Redhill, only a few hundred yards outside the Holmethorpe recording area..
The 8th produced 3 female SMEW and a female GOLDENEYE on Mercers West Pit and Derek Washington located the flock of WAXWINGS along Frenches Road which had now increased to over 60 birds.
On the 9th, Beddington SF birder Kevin ‘Kojak’ Guest paid Holmethorpe a visit and noted the 3 female SMEW and the female GOLDENEYE and seven Lesser Redpolls and two Siskins amongst others. On the same day, Ian Kehl saw a LITTLE EGRET and Gordon Hay added a Common Buzzard and a Green Sandpiper to the day’s tally. Both Steve Gale and Derek Washington noted 45 WAXWINGS along Frenches Road.
The 10th saw Jerry Blumire add a Nuthatch and 2 Coal Tits to the Holmethorpe year list and 40 WAXWINGS were reported again along Frenches Road. I had the enjoyment of adding WAXWINGS to my garden list when 12 birds flew fairly low over South Merstham.
On Tuesday the 11th, two female SMEW were hiding by the north bank of Mercers Lake and the female GOLDENEYE was still on Mercers West Pit, though distant, also a Green Sandpiper at the same site and a Common Buzzard was seen perched distantly at Mercers Farm.


The pits have all seen a rise in water levels over the past couple days and Redhill Brook has obviously burst its banks at The Moors NR with quite a bit of flooding across this area. This is not an unusual occurrence during the winter months and does attract wildfowl and Snipe and, hopefully, will attract other species to appear there. The perimeter path, however, is flooded at present in several areas and access around The Moors may be difficult. Most of the area can be viewed from the mound behind the Water Colour Lagoons or by following the path by the railway line to the flooded area.


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