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Surrey

Coal Tit Parus ater ©Nigel Blake Website

Surrey's landscape is dominated in the north by the ever-encroaching borders of London so much so that 20% of the old vice county of Surrey is now taken by Suburbia. Yet amongst so much concrete many top birding spots can still be found mostly connected with the Water Industry - notably the reservoirs that straddle both sides of the Thames and the sewage farms such as Beddington. Away from city life the chalk North Downs cut Surrey in two as they run east west through the centre of the county with the highest point being found at Leith Hill (not part of the Downs itself); where the top of the tower is at 1000ft above sea level. Here the usually woodland species may be found, however the increased numbers of day trippers from London have, amongst other factors, brought about the decline of species such as Nightingale.

Along the western edge of the county many areas of heath land can be found most notably in the Frensham and Thursley area. Thursley also includes a large area of natural bog. Surrey, being a land-locked county, lacks the large variety of species that may be found in more coastal counties. This brings its own challenges and rewards, for the finding of passage migrants such as Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail can be as exciting as finding Red-backed Shrike or Wryneck at better coastal sites.

Top Sites

Barn Elms

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WWT London Wetland Centre is a stunning nature haven in the heart of the city with beautiful walkways set amongst lakes, ponds, meadows and reedbeds. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife including over 180 species of birds, water voles, amphibians, bats, grass snakes, slow worms, butterflies and moths. A spectacular 105 acre reserve.

Beddington Sewage Farm

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There is no public access to this site, but part of it (including the lake) can be viewed from the new public footpath from Beddington Park to Mitcham Common which passes along the western side of the sewage farm. It has hosted a number of national rarities, eg. Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Citrine Wagtail, Red-throated Pipits and Rustic Bunting.

Bookham Common

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This woodland is the best site in Surrey for Nightingale with up to 12 singing males present in recent years. Recent winters have turned up Hawfinches (probably from East Horsley)

Devils Punch Bowl

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This huge depression is covered by woods and is one of the best places in the county to catch up with Wood Warbler. Most other woodland species can be found here without too much effort, unless you have descended to the bottom and your car is at the top! Firecrest have often been found here as well.

East Horsley

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The woods at East Horsley, of which the Woodland Trust owns one, are very good for the elusive Hawfinches. Early mornings are by far the best time to see these birds which will also drink from pools on the gravel drives of the large houses bordering the woods.

Epsom Common

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excellent site for Mandarin

Frensham Ponds

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The ponds are about a mile apart and are separated by the Kings ridge and area of heath land (see below). The ponds hold good numbers of waterfowl in the winter including Smew. Also at this time a Bittern might be found at either pond, in fact dusk may be the best time to see one as it changes pond and flies over the ridge.

Mercers Lake

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wildfowl and gulls

Old Woking Sewage Farm

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for waders etc

PaperCourt GPs

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wildfowl

Staines Reservoirs

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The reservoir is split into two basins imaginatively called North and South. Access is from either end of the dividing causeway parking is easier at the east end with a small car park having been built. During winter large numbers of wildfowl can be seen and more often than not a Peregrine spends the winter in the area, check the many Pylons. Amongst the wintering species Surrey rarities such as Great Northern Diver, and Long-tailed Duck may be found. Both Red-necked and Black - necked Grebes should be present for some of the winter. A large gull roost also occurs at Staines as well as most of the other Thames Reservoirs. In summer especially after a storm Black Terns can be found, also Little Gulls may also be present. On top of this the basins are periodically drained exposing large areas of mud. These will then act as a magnet to waders, which will appear in large numbers, by Surrey standards. During such times rarer waders such as Wilson`s phalarope have been found.

Stoke Water Meadows

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Holds Water Rail, Snipe and Jack Snipe during winter though all are difficult to see and has breeding Common Terns. In 1997 Stoke held Surrey's first Red-rumped Swallow, which stayed for a week.

Thorpe Water Park

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A good site for winter wildfowl and Surrey's most regular haunt for Smew since a flock has become established here. Park in layby on A320 near entrance. Pit on east side of road best in cold weather. Public footpath heads north-west through complex to Thorpe village.

Thursley Common

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The heath land makes Thursley one of the most important site in the County with several waders breeding here and nowhere else in the county. The pine island in the centre of the bog is usually a good look out point for Hobby in the spring and summer with Redstart singing above. The heathland also holds Dartford Warbler (although numbers were much reduced by the hard winters of 2009-2010), Tree Pipit and Woodlark, at night Nightjar can be heard chirring at surprisingly long distances. Ockley Common is part of the Thursley complex. Nearby Hankley, or Frensham commons, hold similar birds with the exception of the waders. During the winter it is not uncommon for one of these to hold one or two Great Grey Shrikes. In the spring of 1999 Thursley also had a Woodchat Shrike for several days.

Walton Reservoirs

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The complex of reservoirs do not hold such large quantities of birds as Staines but they do turn up interesting records such as Leach's Petrel, Manx Shearwater, Pied-billed Grebe and Squacco Heron. A permit from Thames Water is needed before access can be gained, however after gravel extraction has finished a new nature reserve will be created on the site of the northern reservoirs. Knight and Bessborough Reservoirs to the south of the A3050 will still require a permit. Walton reservoirs was situated between the two largest roosts of Ring-necked Parakeet in Britain. During the winter months up to 7000 parakeets have roosted in poplars close to Esher Rugby Club off Molesey Road.

Contributor

Shaun Peters

Additional Material

recbirds@yahoo.co.uk

Gary Honey

County Recorder

Eric Soden

Ceres, Moushill Lane, Milford, Surrey GU8 5BQ

01483 429799

ericsoden@aol.co.uk

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 333

Useful Reading

Birds Around Surrey

Written & published by Derek Belsey 2002

ISBN: 0953073432

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Surrey

Jeffery J Wheatley - Surrey Bird Club - 2007

ISBN: 0901963089

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to watch birds in Kent, Surrey and Sussex

Don Taylor, Jeffery Wheatley & Paul James - Christopher Helm 2009 (5th Revised Edition)

ISBN: 1408105853

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Forums & Mailing Lists

SurreyBirders

http://www.birders-online.co.uk/

Add your sightings etc

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Very close to the Thames Basin heaths holding the Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks and Nightjars which have European protection. Hobby, Firecrest and Tree Pipits are also found locally. We have local reservoirs and gravel pits with many species and easy access to the south coast. I edit a county bird report and am a member of the Berkshire and Surrey clubs giving me a great deal of local information on birds and sites. I charge nothing but many people buy me lunch and pay the petrol and sometimes make a small donation to a local club in return for a good day out…

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Organisations

Dartford Ringing Group

The Dartford Ringing Group was formed in 1968 by Peter Meredith, Trevor Squire, Jim Hook and Bill Spencer. It was then, as the name suggests, based in the Dartford area of north Kent, with the main ringing site being the scrub and settling ponds adjacent to Littlebrook Power Station on the south bank of the Thames, close to where the M25 now crosses the river. Over the years we have carried out our studies in the now vanished reed beds of Thurrock on the north shore of the river and further south into the counties of Kent and Surrey…

RSPB - Croydon Members Group

Website

We have put together a list of some places in Croydon where you might like to go bird watching. The list is by no means exhaustive and good birds can turn up anywhere. If you have a site that you would like to tell us about, please e-mail us. As well as monitoring birds through our Garden Bird Survey the Croydon RSPB Group is trying to discover what birds are found in the various open spaces. If you visit one of the sites listed here or any other park, wood, golf course, etc in the borough please send us a record of the birds seen (you can use the same form as for the garden survey).

RSPB - Dorking & District Local Group

Website

The Group covers a large area of mid-Surrey but centered on Dorking, Leatherhead and The Bookhams. During the winter indoor meetings are held once a month. Bird-watching walks and related activities are organised at the weekends and mid-week: a coach is usually arranged for the more remote destinations. Most of the walks are fairly easy…

RSPB - East Surrey Local Group

Website

The group's aim is to introduce new members to the RSPB and raise money to help our local nature reserves. We have a monthly indoor meeting on the second Wednesday of each month except August. We have monthly field trips by car and coach. We give talks to schools, youth groups and community groups by request…

RSPB - Epsom & Ewell Members Group

Website

This is the Home Page of the: Epsom and Ewell RSPB local group…

RSPB - Guildford Local Group

Website

We cover South-West Surrey from Chobham, Woking, Guildford and Godalming through to Cranleigh and Haslemere and have about 600 members. We aim to interest and inform our members about the RSPB. We hold indoor meetings with illustrated talks twice a month from September to April and we have an extensive programme of over 50 walks and outings with occasional "weekends" away…

RSPB - North West Surrey Local Group

Website

This is the website of the North West Surrey Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife…

Surbiton & District Birdwatching Society

Website

The Surbiton and District Bird Watching Society was formed in 1954. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the foremost ornithological societies in the South East of England, located about 25 miles to the South West of London. Since its foundation, the Society has grown in strength and reputation, providing its membership with a consistently wide range of activities…

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Website

Surrey Wildlife Trust was formed in 1959. We work to protect wildlife for the future as one of 47 independent trusts and more than 100 urban wildlife groups across the country. Our strength comes from a combination of working nationally plus our local expertise…

Surrey Bird Club

Website

Surrey Bird Club was founded in 1957, and registered as a charity in 1967. Members include professional ornithologists, amateurs of every stature, and others who care about the future of bird life in the county. The Club is affiliated to the British Trust for Ornithology, and is open to anyone interested in the birds of the county and in sympathy with its aims. Correspondence to: Chairman, Steve Chastell, 8 Burnet Avenue, Guildford GU1 1YD.

Reserves

Beddington Farmlands

Website

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The BFBG consist of a group of people dedicated to the promotion, recording, preservation and conservation of the Beddington Farmlands site. Most days there will be a member of the group at the Farmlands recording the birds and other animals that are located on the farm. For a list of recently seen birds click on the news link above. There are various blogs associated with the farmlands and these can be found in the links section of this web-site….

Swan Sanctuary

Website

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Welcome to the home page of The Swan Sanctuary's new web site. The Swan Sanctuary is a charity dedicated to the care and treatment of swans and waterfowl with an established reputation, not only within the British Isles but worldwide…

WWT - London Wetland Centre

Webpage

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Twenty-five minutes from Westminster in the heart of London, the Wetland Centre is unique in being the first created wetland habitat (105 acres) to have been developed in any capital city throughout the world…

Blogs

Bill's Birding

Blog

I have set up this blog to share with you my birding (and other wildlife) activities around Surrey and beyond…

Exploring Wildlife

BLOG

A natural-history blog from Surrey, UK. The blog has been running for 3 years, and is my place to share my wild experiences and stories, accompanied with photos and videos…

Non-Stop Birding

Blog

I live in the Beddington Farmlands observatory and bird non-stop…

Randon's Ramblings - Neil Randon

Blog

Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you…

The Early Birder

Blog

Interested in the natural world from an early age, I got the birding bug during holidays to Norfolk in late 1980's and unknowingly twitched a Sardinian Warbler at Holkham Dunes…

Tricia's Tales

Blog

Birding and Wildlife - accounts and pictures… My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, plants and anything else that comes to mind…

Other Links

Birdworld

Website

Not my cup-of-tea… but some people like looking at exotics in captivity when contemplating a foreign trip.

Mayford Bluetits

Website

In February 2001 we installed our first bluetit nest box )in a garden in Mayfield, Surrey) containing a video camera. Last year our diary gave details of the progress that our bluetits made with their nesting activities. We watched them nest building, egg laying, hatching and finally fledging. These details can be found by clicking on the 2001 link alongside. A new year sees a second nest box and this year we intend to monitor nesting progress in both. Hopefully, by summer time we shall have two broods of chicks to show you and details can be reached in the 2002 Diary alongside…

Surrey Birders

Website

Surrey Birders is a web site created for the bird watchers of Surrey. This site is aimed at bird watchers of all skills and experience…

Photographers & Artists

Lee Dingain's Photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leedingain/

Several of my friends have mentioned that they've never seen the photos I take on my travels, so in response I've decided to set up a Flickr account. So far I've only created a few photo sets (all of South America), with the Galapagos being the most complete set, but I'll be adding many more photos over the next few days and weeks…

Photographer - Ken Noble - Wildlife-galleries

Gallery

Wildlife-galleries is primarily based on European species of Birds, Mammals, Insects, Reptiles, Amphibians and Plants. Contained within the pages of this web site are hundreds of wildlife and nature photographs and images…