A sunny day in Cobham

FRIDAY, 27th JANUARY 2012.

It was a beautiful morning, so I was up and out early. I started out waiting for a Kingfisher on the Mole, but it didn't materialise and I couldn't resist checking if the Little Owl was in its tree. It was.

A Little Owl rests in its favourite tree, with half an eye on the nearby footpath.
Then on to Painshill Park, where a couple of days earlier I had counted ten Goosanders, including three females. They were all still there.

The female Goosanders are very proud of their hair-styles.

"What was that you said?"

A male and female Goosander.

Seven of the group of ten Goosanders present today.

All the regulars were there. I was particularly pleased to see Mr Dodgy Duck, who together with his sister Daffy, has what appears to be a split lower beak mandible through which his tongue permanently hangs. I first saw them three years ago, so I presume it doesn't inhibit them too much. The fact that there are two of them suggests that it is a genetic defect.

One of the many Swans on duty today at Painshill.

... and a Greylag Goose rests on one leg.

Mr. Dodgy Duck, with his tongue hanging through a split lower beak.

A fox speeds away.

A pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers "posturing".

Itinerant Cormorants often rest in the tree providing the highest point of the lake area of Painshill Park. This was the first time however that I had seen as many as five there at the same time.

Cormorants relaxing and exchanging gossip as a break from their various journeys,

The highest Cormorant decides it's time for him to go.

A Tree Creeper doing what Tree Creepers do.

"We can see you!" A family of Squirrels.
I could see (and hear) two Goldcrests working their way through a conifer, searching for insects and spiders for lunch. They ignored my presence, but they are so fast-moving that getting a good portrait while they are feeding is not an easy task. So I have about thirty pictures of brown blurs or tail-end views, and I have posted below the one shot in which an eye and a beak are visible, if somewhat obliquely.

A Goldcrest flits through the foliage looking for insects.

This looks intersting. Now, can I eat it?

... and yet More Owls!

Monday 16th January 2012

Again, a beautiful sunny day, so I decided to take another stroll across Papercourt Meadows, this time restricting it to the late afternoon. When I arrived there just before 3pm, two Short-Eared Owls were already searching and swooping at the far end of the field, and it wasn't long before they were joined by a Barn Owl.

A Barn Owl searches the meadows.

He sees something on the ground, and stoops!

False alarm! Continue the search.
At one point, a Short-eared Owl and the Barn Owl were both so intent on watching the ground that they came very close to colliding. They both took evasive action at the last moment, then had a little mid-air scrap before resuming their searches. During the incident, the Barn Owl nicked an electricity cable with his wing and started falling, but fortunately he quickly recovered. 

A Short-Eared Owl and a Barn Owl come close to an accidental collision ...

... and there is a bit of a mid-air scrap before they resume their search patterns.

The Short-Eared Owls seem to keep low when searching.
There was a bit of a diversion when a Kestrel appeared, being chased by two Crows. The Kestrel is pretty agile in flight, and this one was making plenty of quick evasive turns, but the Crows are surprisingly agile too, and kept right on his tail. Eventually however, the Crows gave up and let the Kestrel be on his way.

The Kestrel swerves into a sudden dive, but the Crow stays right on his tail!
And finally, a couple of shots taken yesterday and sent to me by Dom (http://www.flickr.com/photos/domgreves/), in which he was unfortunate enough to get me almost in line with the owl. I appear to be photographing something further to the left.


Sunday, 15th January 2012

After yesterday's good luck finding a Little Owl, I decided this morning to follow up a report of Short Eared Owls on Papercourt Meadows, between Old Woking and Ripley. I parked at Old Woking, and headed across the water meadows towards Papercourt Lock on the Wey Navigation. What I didn't know at the time was that the Owls don't normally appear until after 3pm. But it was a pleasant sunny day, attractive countryside, plenty of other wildlife to see, and I continued beyond the lock to the Seven Stars at Ripley for lunch.

A pair of Stonechats on their favourite vantage point, a grass stalk.

A Kestrel sizes up a potential meal.

A male Stonechat

A female Stonechat.

A Deer, north of the river

A Cormorant passes by.
Just after 3.30pm, the Short Eared Owls arrived. Of course, they were at the opposite end of the meadow, so we made our way down to get a better view of their flying display.

One of the Short Eared Owls flies past during the display ...

... and turns his face towards us and smiles (?).

One of the Owls gives a harrying Crow a taste of its own medicine.

After a while the Owls moved back to where we had been originally, and as I could also see a Barn Owl there, I followed them. I got some good views but no more pictures.

Painshill and Thereabouts

Saturday, 14th January, 2012

I can't believe that my last post to this blog was over a year ago. I must have seen some wildlife since then! Anyway, here I am again with a report of a couple of visits to Painshill and the surrounding area.

Firstly, the Goosanders. In the past two winters at least, flocks of usually 8 to 10 Goosanders have visited Painshill Park in Surrey. Yesterday I saw some for the first time this year, but only three males. Today I was there again, and saw only one male. Better luck next time, perhaps.

Three male Goosander at Painahill, 13th Jan.

A male Goosander at Painshill, 14th Jan.

There were three Great Crested Grebes on the lake yesterday and today; a lone juvenile and a pair. Twice I saw the pair engaging in their little lovey-dovey greeting ritual. None of the serious stand-up-on-the-hind-legs dancing yet though.

Mr & Mrs G.C. Grebe exchange pleasantries after a short spell apart.

As always at Painshill, there were plenty of Herons in evidence.

A Heron waits by the Chinese bridge.

A Heron waits for his lunch to arrive.

After our circuit of Painshill, we went for a short walk down by the cemetary, where we spotted a Little Owl roosting in an Oak tree. I've not seen one of those before. (The owl that is, not the tree.)

A Little Owl dozes in an Oak tree.

The Little Owl watches intently as I edge a little closer.