|Great Northern Diver at Papercourt GPs|
I made my way back home from university yesterday afternoon to spend the weekend having a casual look around the local area. I stopped off at Papercourt Gravel Pits on the way and succeeded in finding the first-winter Great Northern Diver that showed well at times on the main pit; a flock of four Mandarins circling the lake was a decent supporting act. Rain stopped any further play and I waited until today to get back out. The plan was to check out Juniper Bottom (to see whether any Hawfinches had returned), then Banstead Downs Golf Course (to see whether any Firecrests had returned) and to finish up with a few hours at Canons Farm. My first venue didn't offer me any Hawfinches but threw up a nice surprise in the form of a Firecrest while a couple of Marsh Tits were present. It then started raining so I decided to briefly visit the golf course before sitting the deluge out in the hide at Beddington. It didn't take long to find two Firecrests along the usual wooded footpath at the golf course - it's fantastic to see Firecrests back at this site for at least a sixth winter; I wonder how for how many years it was an undiscovered wintering ground before they were stumbled upon in 2008? Beddington was relatively uneventful, I failed in my quest to find any interesting gulls but enjoyed good views of a Water Rail and a couple of Tree Sparrows, while two Common Snipes flew over. Eventually the rain subsided and I could finally get to Canons, although it was nearly the end of the day and I didn't have long before dark so didn't find too much!