some great birders for breakfast at the Sir Douglas Haig, in Effingham.
I had come into contact with Norman Ford when he e-mailed me to add his
local bird club to this website (
for the Surbiton and District Birdwatching Society). I mentioned
in my reply that I would be in his neighbourhood soon, and he and his wife,
Erica, invited us to spend a day birding with them. After breakfast, we
piled into his car (we didn't have the courage to have Duncan drive again)
and headed for Field Common, their local "patch" in Cobham, Surrey. I wish
I could tell you were that is, because it was a great place to go birding,
but I haven't the faintest idea. Perhaps Norm will send a map some day...
|The title photo above, taken from a foot bridge over the River Mole, was where we saw our first life bird of the day - a Common Kingfisher - a living jewel, with the sun glinting off his iridescent electric blue feathers. But it certainly wasn't the last! And without Norm and Erica, chances are we would never have even seen most of them, never mind identified them! (NOTE: all life birds for us are shown in bold italic print.)|
||In rapid succession, as we strolled down the public footpath that ran first beside the river, and then beside the Common, we saw Pied and Grey Wagtails, Canada Geese, Mallards, Mute Swan, Northern Lapwing, Common Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Redshank, Jackdaw, Black-billed Magpie, Carrion Crow, Blackbirds, Moorhens, Eurasian Coots, Shelduck, and Wood Pigeon. Dunnock (Hedge Accentor) was all around, but we never got a good look at one. Duncan spied a small brown bird that had us all stumped, so we each took mental notes and long looks for later discussion.|
|As we returned to the car,
Duncan spotted a tiny bird flitting beside the river and under the foot-bridge
- a Winter Wren, trying to build it's nest without us seeing
it - it ended our morning with a bang! Over a great lunch, and with much
consultation with the field guides, we finally decided that the LBJ in
the middle of the meadow was a Tree Pippit - Norm says
we should expect to find a Meadow Pippit in a tree - go figure!
We then drove to Bushey Park, next to Hampton Court Palace. The challenge here was not to find birds - they were everywhere - but to sort out what was "tickable" since there have been many ornamental waterfowl introduced into the park. We were met by a regal Egyptian Goose shepherding a herd of Canada Geese and Mallards. Also on the first pond were Pochards, and Tufted Ducks. ..
||Green Woodpeckers darted between the trees, laughing horribly, as if they knew what miserable birders we were. Ring-necked Parakeets offered tantalizing glimpses, while Mandarin Ducks, Bahamian Pintails, Tufted Ducks, and Eurasian Coots grazed around the trees, kept company by several bunnies, three chickens and a Rhode Island Red Rooster (as the||
|state bird of Rhode Island, surely that's a "tick"?). A Mistle Thrush sang in the trees, as a Common Tern flew by overhead. As we returned to the car, a dog spooked a large herd of deer, presumably all prepared for the Queen to come a-hunting in her Royal Park. A quick drive through Richmond Park ended the afternoon. Later, over supper at Norm and Erica's house, the last life bird of the day, a Collared Dove, landed on their bird feeder to join the House Sparrows flitting around the yard. Thank you so much, Norm and Erica, for a wonderful day and a warm welcome to Britain! We'll return the favour in Canada some day!||