Showing posts from January, 2015

Animal of the Month

Welcome to Animal of the Month for January 2015. Every month, we will announce our favourite animal that has been featured on the blog at some point during the month.

Which animal has been our favourite this month?

Barn Owl
Short Eared Owl
Water Rail

Water Rail
At the beginning of January, I said to myself: "This year, I will see a Water Rail". I was never expecting to have 4 sightings in the first month! We saw one at Arundel Wetland Centre, the 'Car Park Water Rail', and then 3 more sightings in the Ripley Area. Amazing! To be honest, I'm not sure there was much competition for AofM this month though, the Water Rail was the star of the show!

Fact File
Name: Water Rail
Scientific Name: Rallus aquaticus
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Rallus
Diet: Omnivores - mainly small fish, snails, insects.

Surrey Birding at its Best

January 2015 has been an amazing start to the year, with the first month dominated by owls, and the Water Rail, which I hadn't seen before this month. Yesterday, the pattern continued.

We started the afternoon by heading to a location in the Ripley area, and it instantly started off well. We spotted a kestrel and a fieldfare within two minutes of getting out the car, the fieldfare being our first of the winter.
As we began to walk, we came across a small lake, and we were amazed by the number of ducks in such a small area. We counted around 15 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, and a few Mallards.
Also in the same area we counted around 5 Reed Bunting, which is a great sign that the area is healthy, and perfect for all sorts of birds. Then, as we were looking over the lake, we spotted a very healthy looking fox creeping around the reeds. We followed it until it startled a group of small waders. As we got a closer look, we realised what we were looking at. A flock of Snipe! We followed them…

Owls Return To Papercourt

In the past couple of weeks, four species of owl have been recorded in Papercourt Meadows itself. I have seen two, and heard two of them myself, and it is great news that they are back.

The first species is the Short-Eared Owl. This owl had not been spotted at Papercourt for at least a year, until just after Christmas. The floods of last year drove them away, to where prey was more plentiful. It is clear at the moment that there is one individual on the meadows. We have been down three times, once on New Years' Eve, and twice in the new year, and we have seen one every time, and two of these sightings have been very good. Today, in fact, we went down, and were able to watch one hunting very close for 10 minutes. This magical owl is a pleasure to see, and watch, and it is fantastic news that it has returned to Papercourt Meadows after it's absence. Both pictures below were taken on the meadows.

The second species at Papercourt is the Barn Owl. These owls have been present since w…

Car Park Water Rail

Our recent trip to WWT's Arundel Wetland Centre produced a great collection of wildfowl images and a new species for me, (read on for more on that). Below is a collection of those images, and the unusual story of our best sighting of the day. Click on the images to enlarge.

Then, as we left the centre, and entered the car park, something small ran into the trees on the left of me. I told everyone else, and 20 seconds later, the mystery bird reemerged. And it was a Water Rail! People inside the centre had spent hours searching for one, and we had spotted one in the car park outside!

Also in the car park, we spotted a Grey Wagtail hopping around on the pond next to the car park entrance, and I managed to grab a photo before it, as well, vanished.

All in all, it was a great day, with a new species for me, and a few other rarities as well.