Our long planned weekend staying with friends near Reigate in Surrey arrived last weekend with a late Friday night arrival at their house. We had no idea as to what we would be doing over the next couple of days but I was told to 'bring my camera' - I did not need any more encouragement to do that now did I?
From previous visits I was aware that there were frequent visits over if not into the large and well manicured garden by large numbers of Ring Necked Parakeets maybe this was the reason for the camera being placed into the boot of the car?
Well I was told that recently lots of the Parakeets were coming into the high trees bordering our friends garden both in the morning and evening, numbers well over the 100 being seen for last few weeks.
I got up early on the Saturday morning (7amish) and used the highest window at the back of the house to see if any of the birds would be seen and maybe photographed. I heard them calling in flight as they arrived to land in the trees but it was hard to see the green bird in the tree they first decided to land in with its matching green foliage. This tree with parakeet coloured leaves was a horse chestnut I believe. Some more noisy birds landed in another tall tree that had brown / red coloured foliage - no idea on type, maybe you can let me know? But the birds although further away were easier to see as you can see by the images below.
I had about an hour hoping for the birds or a single bird at least to come a little closer, only 2 birds obliged and the latter showed its contempt for me with my camera by landing the closest to me with its back to me - a parakeet 'two fingers rampant' to a photographer maybe!
I then went down and got treated to a lovely breakfast and then off for a day out 'mystery tour' style! We called into have a short canal ride first on the Wey & Arun Canal in West Sussex, its was a lovely quiet ride made even more so with the canal boat being powered by electricity. Sadly although my camera was poised for action only a couple of Wrens flitting from one side of the canal to the other were seen and the only photographs taken were of a Common Buzzard atop a waterside tree.
After the canal ride a swift beer was our reward for behaving on the canal boat and then we headed to the main reason I was told to bring my camera a visit for a couple of hours wander. Pulborough Brooks nature reserve (RSPB) was the location with varied habitat, grassland, woodland, scrub, heathland, arable farmland and some water all in one sprawling area. We did not have loads of time but after our picnic and a browse around the obligatory shop we went off for a nose around.
We stuck to the trails and had a little time in a hide but the ponds were dried up as they only fill up from rain water, corvids were the only birds seen from here along with rabbits and after leaving the hide a couple of deer too!
On the trails a large group of Goldfinches (about 60+ birds) were doing their best to copy the smaller Starling groups flying around warming up their murmuration routine. A group of Linnets flew over head at one point and Jays could be heard calling all the time, mentioning Jays leads me to one of my fiends calling me over to a gate overlooking some of the arable farmland to see a lone Jay looking like a Green Woodpecker with its beak hammering into the ground after food. It looked at us for a while then flew in the hedgerow to get out of the way.
Getting close to the area near named 'Redstart Corner' we spotted some birders that were obviously onto something, we passed them and were told about a 1st winter Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher along a fence line. I got a few distant images of these birds and also a little later on the return walk past the same area a Chiffchaff too, which was nice!
Brilliant stuff only the third time I have seen a Redstart. Really pleasing to see 3 great species in one small area too.
Walking back to the car we heard the distinct call of Canada Geese in the air but did not see them, also Buzzard was calling too. Nice little place Pulborough Brooks maybe get back there one day, very helpful and friendly local patch birders were spoken too as well.
Sunday morning soon came around with the sun out for the first time in earnest during the weekend. The Ringnecks were back around the house and area but in smaller numbers I did manage to get a photo from the garden across to neighbours with the Parakeet in better light for photography.
These birds as I am sure you are aware are like bullets when flying and with the trees and houses in the area were impossible to even attempt to photograph in the air this time. There was though the chance to photograph one of the 2 local garden Robins when it hopped onto a garden chair near me.
Our friends garden is a really good size with varying vegetation, shrubs etc. for birds and although they do not get birds in large numbers at a time they have seen among others , Nuthatch, Great - Coal - Blue and Long Tailed Tits, Magpie, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Ring Necked Parakeets and even Red Legged Partridge some time back.
Sunday morning can mean a nice fry up for brekkie and this Sunday for us all was no different apart form the fact it was sat outside looking at the runway at Redhill Aerodrome watching the small planes and helicopters taking off and landing. After this a little walk around the aerodrome took place with me sneaking off with my camera to see what was about, corvids were all over as you may expect along with good numbers of Pied Wagtails.
Top bird here was definitely a brief encounter with another Chiffchaff that I spotted in a small section of overgrown vegetation near old buildings. I managed to get only 1 photo of this bird and was pleased it turned out like this below.
All in all a great weekend with my wife and great friends we don’t see enough of and for me selfishly a bit of birding (if you can call it that!) thrown in.