Thursday, 13 February 2014

Review of January 2014

Nothing particularly unexpected happened locally this January, as if often the case, but there were still some good wintering birds to be seen. The Redshank at Beddington Farmlands which continued on from last year until the 19th was one of the most unusual birds, for this time of year, to be recorded. Two Firecrests were still at Banstead Downs Golf Course till at least 19th and one was found near the pond at Walton-on-the-Hill on 27th. Being an increasingly and worryingly rare bird locally, two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers seen along the border between Mitcham Common and Beddington Farmlands on 25th was great to hear of following a sighting of one there on 22nd. Gulls were one of the themes of the month with Beddington Farmlands producing some good results including a 2nd-winter Glaucous Gull on 20th. Adult Mediterranean Gulls were seen there on 4th, 21st and 25th while records of adult Yellow-legged Gull came on 3rd, 7th, 8th and 15th. First-winter Caspian Gulls were seen on 4th, 8th and 18th while an adult was present on 20th and no age was given for a report of one on 16th. The juvenile Iceland Gull from last year was seen on 3rd, 16th, and 20th. A redhead Goosander on the south lake at Beddington Farmlands on 7th was a good record while a small number of Smew visited Holmethorpe Sand Pits; a drake was on Mercers Lake on 30th, a rare treat, while redheads were more reliable, with two redheads being seen regularly throughout the month and three present on 5th. On 21st, three Pintails were at Beddington Farm but there were no other local records of this relatively rare visitor. It seems to be a relatively poor winter for Wigeon with the only reports being three at Beddington Farm on 1st and 7th with two there on 21st and one on 3rd; Holmethorpe Sand Pits had five on 29th and a single on 19th. At least two Water Pipits continued to winter at Beddington Farmlands and Shelducks began to reappear there from 4th, when two birds arrived. One or two were seen occasionally over the rest of January but four on 24th was the highest local count. Holmethorpe Sand Pits hosted Shelduck from 12th when one was present and thereafter there were intermittent reports of two. Sadly, only one Tree Sparrow was at Beddington Farmlands this month. Two Chiffchaffs were at South Norwood Country Park on 24th and one was still there the next day; one was in a South Croydon garden on 22nd and others were at Lower Mill, Ewell on 14th and Waddon Ponds on 8th while Beddington Farmlands had a peak count of four on 19th. There were apparently fewer wintering Blackcaps than last year, with one in Motspur Park on 1st; one at South Norwood Country Park on 16th and a singing bird at Beggars Hill, Ewell on 26th. Canons Farm supported large numbers of winter thrushes and Linnets with c400 Fieldfares  and c450 Linnets on 1st and 240+ Redwings on 3rd being the peak counts. Richmond Park had a single Stonechat on 2nd and four on 18th was the most impressive report from Beddington Farmlands. There was no sign of any of last winter's Hawfinches at Juniper Bottom but a Raven flew over there on 19th and there were eleven Marsh Tits there on 10th. The only Woodcock report was at Banstead Woods on 19th. Jack Snipes were seen often at Beddington Farmlands, with four on 4th being the highest number recorded and one was seen at Holmethorpe Sand Pits on 18th. A wintering Little Egret was reliable at Beverley Brook, Worcester Park and Beddington Farmlands had the occasional lone visiting bird; one flew south over Morden Park on 18th and Holmethorpe Sand Pits had one on 12th and two on 25th. The bird seen at South Norwood Country Park on many dates in December was less reliable in the New Year, being seen only now and then, last on 27th.