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By Malcolm Fincham
A recent spell of warm weather has certainly assisted in the progress with the flora and fauna in Surrey. The heather is now coming out in flower on our local heathland and rowan trees (also known as mountain ash) are starting to show off their iridescent berries.
Along the river bank there is a second major hatching this year of banded demoisels (see picture at the foot of this report). On the bird watching front, I was pleased to witness the emergence of more fledglings especially in area of Stoke Lake. A constant rattling trill can be heard at times coming from families of long-tailed tits. I was especially pleased to observe another family of young reed warblers among the sallows and reeds at the water’s edge.
On Friday August 10 I spent a good 30 minutes just beyond Bowers Lock watching two newly fledged kestrels practising the art of hunting from the lone oak across the field by Sutton Place. At the same time I watched a constantly mewing buzzard ascending into sky to meet up with a second buzzard high in the thermals. As I continued to observe (through my binoculars), I noticed a hobby playing tag with them.
The disappearance of our two adult mute swans and their four cygnets continued to be quite a concern to me and others who observe them around Stoke Lake. I was not sure if anyone had seen them since the photo I took of them on July 28, when they happened (by chance) to be in my shot of a plunging common tern, that appeared in my last report.
We have been following their progress since the cygnets hatched more than 16 weeks ago on April 26 (featured in my report No.3). Various concerns of their possible demise had been suspected – especially after the recent sightings of mink in the area.
However, I was pleased to announce their reappearance back on the lake on Wednesday, August 15. My personal theory is that they spent some time tucked away on the Burpham Court Farm stretch of river. Fellow birdwatcher Paul has kindly donated some video he has taken on their recent return, I am surprised by how much the cygnets have grown just in last two weeks..!
On Friday August 17, as the light began to fade, I was pleased to witness six common sandpipers circle the lake several times before settling on the island to roost. I wondered if these could be the same six I witnessed on Friday, May 4, heading to their breeding grounds in the north?
Elsewhere, a visit to Pulborough Brooks in West Sussex, where quite a few returning migrants have begun to arrive, turned out to be a fruitful trip for me. I had a good view (through a telescope) of a wood sandpiper, a ‘passage’ migrant occasionally visiting wetlands in the South East on its return to Africa. For a clip of a wood sandpiper on You Tube, click link below.
Also on my travels around Wonersh I was pleased to capture a picture of a skylark on some farmland.