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Farnham and Cutmill Ponds, 13 February 2019



Frensham and Cutmill Ponds, 13 February 2019


Once again the weather favoured us; it was sunny and warm, like a spring morning, when almost a full house of 10 members met at Frensham Great Pond. The only one missing was Peter, who had escaped to the Canaries, but Joyce was back again after a long absence due to a broken ankle. The notice board at the Ranger’s office said that no birds had been seen there since December, which rather put us off. We searched the pond from the beach and only saw a few Great Crested Grebes, although one pair was performing courtship display, a few Tufted Ducks, Coots and a Reed Bunting in the reeds. There were no small birds in the alders and things looked a bit dismal but then we heard a bird in full song, which turned out be a Songthrush. As we walked down to the hotel end we heard more birds singing in the trees; Robin, Great Tits and Blue Tits, reminding us of spring. We also saw Goldfinches, Chaffinch and Blackbirds and as we got the west end of the Pond there were many Tufted Ducks and Mallard, a solitary male Pochard with its handsome chestnut head, a Moorhen, three Cormorants sitting on the jetty and many Black-headed Gulls, including one that already had its summer plumage black head.


Then a pair of Buzzards flew up out of the woods and soared above us; one was attacked by a raucous Black-headed Gull. In the old woods we also saw the inevitable four birds; Crow, Wood Pigeon, Magpie and Jay but we also saw three Nuthatches and a Treecreeper and some Long-tailed Tits. One of the reasons for choosing to visit Frensham was that a Firecrest had been seen in the holly tree by the outlet stream a month before. So we had searched for this very elusive bird in the tree when we first got there, but all to no avail. However on our way back from the old woods up the path by the stream Margaret had a brief glimpse of a very small greenish bird flying out of the holly tree. Could this have been the Firecrest? While some of us were sitting on the benches in the sun admiring the view over the lake someone shouted that he had just seen the blue flash of a Kingfisher as it flew along the low alders at the edge of the lake, about 200 yards away. About a minute later I saw a brilliant reddish orange flash coming towards me along the same alders and could not think what it was but it suddenly dawned on me that it was the Kingfisher again but I could only see its under-parts which had no blue on them.


We then returned to the cars and four of us dropped off at the little pond at Cutmill on the way home to Milford. There we were very surprised to see no less than seven very handsome Goosanders, four males and three females, which were swimming around in a group, right in front of us. We searched for Mandarins and eventually found two drakes hiding amongst undergrowth and tree stumps but they swam out very briefly when we got good views of their unbelievably exotic plumage. There was the usual Heron on the far bank and a pair of Swans on the large pond. On our way back to Milford a pair of Red Kites flew low over the car in Elstead, giving us great views.


We started the morning thinking we would see very little but by the end we had seen a very good selection of 30, mostly common, birds. But because of the beautiful weather we would hardly have minded if we had seen only five birds.

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Plant Talks and Walks: course notes for 2018-2019

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