The 24th produced the two long-staying female SMEW again, a LITTLE EGRET, a JACK SNIPE, a Shelduck, a Green Sandpiper and a Water Rail around the various pits. There were still reasonable numbers of wildfowl with counts of 60 Gadwall, 58 Teal, 16 Pochard and 34 Shoveler. Most of these counts were made by the Surrey Wildlife Trust’s voluntary warden, Simon Elson, whilst making his WEBS count. On the same date I had an enjoyable morning in the company of Kevin Guest, one of the Beddington SF birders who also keeps a Holmethorpe SPs list. We added a female GOLDENEYE, 2 Grey Wagtails, 5 Lesser Redpolls and a Little Owl, amongst others, to the day’s tally.
On the 25th, Holmethorpe regular Gordon Hay found one female SMEW and 2 female GOLDENEYE and 14 Wigeon on Mercers West Pit and a female Shelduck on Spynes Mere.
I spent a while birding with Gordon on the 26th and we noted the female SMEW and the 2 female GOLDENEYE again on Mercers West Pit and there were a pair of Shelduck on Spynes Mere. Other birds seen included a Green Sandpiper, 7 Common Snipe, 17 Pochard and 6 Egyptian Geese.
There were no reports on the 27th but the 28th produced 2 Shelduck, a LITTLE EGRET, a Green Sandpiper, a female GOLDENEYE, 23 Shoveler and an impressive count of gulls for the area, all made by Gordon Hay, which consisted of around 4000 Black-headed Gulls, 143 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 100 Common Gulls, 800 Herring Gulls and 28 Great Black-backed Gulls.
A visit to Holmethorpe on the 29th by David Campbell (a young birder who is increasingly making a name for himself amongst the birders in Surrey - see his blog at http://devilbirder.blogspot.com/) and Kevin Guest saw the find the 2 female SMEW, a female and a first-winter GOLDENEYE and a Little Owl amongst others species and Gordon Hay added an impressive count of around 80 Skylarks at Mercers Farm.
On the 30th, Gordon Hay found 3 female SMEW, the female and first-winter GOLDENEYE, a LITTLE EGRET, a Common Buzzard, a Green Sandpiper, 15 Siskins and heard a Water Rail, whilst Ian Kehl added 5 Common Snipe, 3 Lesser Redpolls and a Kingfisher for the day.
I ventured to the pits on last day of January and found the 2 female SMEW, the 2 GOLDENEYE and the LITTLE EGRET still present plus a Kingfisher, 13 Siskins, 55 Gadwall and heard a Water Rail.
WAXWINGS have continued to attract birders to Frenches Road, Redhill (only a few hundred yards from the Holmethorpe bird recording area boundary) with 7 seen on the 26th, around 20 on the 27th and 4 birds on the 30th. The apple trees that they have been feeding on are now well depleted of fruit so they may not stay for much longer.