A Hoopoe had been reported at Farthing Down, at Coulsdon, Surrey, on the 14th August.
With no news of it on the 15th or 16th, it looked as though this was one that had got away, but on the 17th I received a text message in the late afternoon from Beddington SF legend and Surrey's top year-lister, Johnny Allan, that the Hoopoe was apparently still at Farthing Down.
It was impossible for me to get there and Johnny, along with Roger Browne, Frank Prater and David Campbell went for the bird and notched up a good Surrey tick for the year. Several other birders tried for it later in the day but it was not relocated, as far as we know.
Johnny kindly sent me directions to where they had seen it and Paul picked me up at 7.25 a.m. on the 18th and we were on site at Farthing Down by 7.40 a.m.
We saw another birder who was just leaving and he had seen the bird 20 minutes before we arrived but it had been flushed by a dog-walker and had flown some distance. Other birders arrived but it wasn't looking promising as, despite scouring the area, there was no sign of it.
We bumped into Holmethorpe and Surrey birder Neil Randon who had been there since 6 a.m. He hadn't connected with the Hoopoe but had seen a Whinchat.
We all went searching in different directions and then Roy Dennis, one of the Beddington birders, arrived. We chatted for a while and Paul went off on an exploratory sortie, returning later with negative news.
Eventually, we decided to head back towards the car park but, Paul wanted one last walk back along the road, just in case.
At 10 a.m., we noticed Roy looking intently through his scope at something and so we headed his way. Sure enough he was on to the HOOPOE but it had disappeared into long grass. Roy phoned Neil on his mobile and soon we were all back in a group again waiting for the bird to show. Dave Long joined us and eventually a group of cattle flushed the bird and it flew and perched in a tree in the valley and some distance away.
We got as close as we dared to it and managed a few poor photos before a gentleman walked close to the tree and flushed the bird. Fortunately, it didn't go too far and landed by a grassy path. We approached slowly, but it spotted us (or the nearby dog-walker) before we spotted it and it took flight again, this time disappearing behind some trees. We waited for a while before deciding we had been lucky to have seen it at all.
Graham & Paul