Saturday, 29 January 2011
I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago that I would find the time to head down to Holmethorpe Sand Pits to check the place out properly for the first time and get Smew for my London/local lists and Goldeneye for my local list. Last week I found a Smew at a private site that was incongruously in my local listing area but not in the LNHS recording area (by about 150 metres), plus Goldeneye was had not been resolved so a visit to the famed pits was still in order.
I did Canons from 8.00am to 1.45pm and was not rewarded with anything special . . . again. I still haven't seen Little Owl or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker there this year (I fear that the local specimens of the former may have been killed off by the harsh conditions late last year); last January was equally birdless. Only forty or so days until the first migrants come!
Dad dropped me off at the Mercers Lake car park shortly after 2.00pm and a very kind dog walker took the trouble to show me directly to the best place to view Mercers West Pit and Spynes Mere (two Alsatians Canons lady should take a leaf out of her book). I was busy counting over a hundred Lesser Black-backed Gulls when Kojak joined me. Shortly afterwards I picked up a female-type Goldeneye and Kojak suggested we walk round and view the north end of Mercers West properly, we did so and I picked up two redhead Smew flying in. Here the Goldeneye was joined by another, the pair consisted of a female and a first winter. We diverted on our way back to Mercers Lake and succeeded in seeing the Little Owl just south of Spynes Mere. Mercers Lake had lots of gulls, particularly Black-headed. We lightly scanned them, not picking out anything exciting before deciding it would be best to head off. It would be so easy to miss a Bonaparte's Gull. My two targets bagged!
I had stayed at Holmethorpe much longer than I intended and by the time dad was driving me to Godstone for the Bittern it was almost dark and I couldn't find any point of access anyway, I'll probably give it another go tomorrow.