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.

a distant Teal
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 around the lake for 10 minutes, but couldn't get a good picture.

We continued to walk around, and saw many other species, including Goldfinch, Redwing, and, believe it or not, another Water Rail! It was a brilliant walk, but we weren't done yet.

After that trip, in which we saw Jack Snipe and a Water Rail, we decided we would go to Papercourt Meadows to see if we could top it all off with two owl species as well. When we arrived, we headed towards the centre of the meadows and waited. After only 5 minutes we spotted our first owl, a Barn Owl. We watched it for a long time, and I managed to film it, although due to the poor lighting, the video isn't great.

After our amazing views of the Barn Owl, we decided that we should call it a day, and we headed towards the bridge and the car. On the way, we saw the Barn Owl land close to the bridge, so we decided to stand on the bridge and wait. It paid off. We searched the other side of the meadows, and very quickly spotted a Short-Eared Owl. Then, as I had it focused in my binoculars, the Barn Owl came up in front of it. Two Owls in one shot. Amazing.

Overall, a fantastic afternoon of birding, with 21 bird species in 3 hours, including Jack Snipe, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Water Rail, Short-Eared Owl and the Barn Owl.

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