Holmethorpe SPs, Surrey ... 12th - 18th January 2011

On the 12th, a female SMEW and a female Goldeneye were on Mercers West Pit and on the 13th the female Goldeneye had been joined by a first-winter male that was displaying. For anyone who has not witnessed this display, it involves the bird spectacularly throwing its head backwards until it almost touches its back. The surprise was that, instead of displaying to the female Goldeneye, the first-winter male was trying to impress a Little Grebe!
On the same date, a male Shelduck, a Green Sandpiper and a male Wigeon were also on Mercer West Pit and a Water Rail was heard squealing at Mercers Lake.
No reports were returned on the 14th but the 15th produced the two Goldeneye again and the male Shelduck, that had moved to Spynes Mere, two Wigeon, a Green Sandpiper, a Common Buzzard and, for these days, a good count of 283 Lapwings.
The 16th saw three female SMEW at Mercers West Pit with a female Goldeneye also present there, with the Green Sandpiper and male Shelduck also in the area. There was also a good count of 38 Great Black-backed Gulls around the pits.
The 18th produced the first PEREGRINE of the year, a female, heading north-west over Mercers West Pit, with a Common Buzzard at Mercers Farm and a Sparrowhawk over Mercers Lake completing the day’s raptor list. A pair of Wigeon, a Green Sandpiper and 287 Lapwings were the only other notable records for the day.
The rain over the past week has caused the brooks to swell and there is much flooding on The Moors NR and the water level at some of the pits has risen. The area now looks good to attract even more waterfowl.
The WAXWINGS in nearby Frenches Road in Redhill, which is only a few hundred yards from the boundary of the Holmethorpe SPs recording area, have continued to provide many good photo opportunities for visiting birders with up to 65 birds being seen on the 13th and 74 birds on the 16th.

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