Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Searching for a Sawbill.

A few days ago a friend kindly alerted me to the presence of visiting 'sawbills' on the River Mole around Leatherhead but once again the waited DHL delivery didn't arrive until well after midday. Despite the worsening light and in view of more snow forecasted for today (and it duly arrived overnight) I decided yesterday afternoon to get the car out and go on a hunting trip.

From a very icy car park on the outskirts of the town I made my way very gingerly down onto the riverside path just in time to catch a glimpse of my quarry disappearing fairly rapidly downstream!

 A male Goosander (Mergus merganser)

Knowing that I could not keep up with my fleeing quarry I slowly strolled downstream passing a pair of Mute Swans, Black-headed Gulls, Moorhens and a few Mallards. It was fairly quiet apart from a scolding Wren and the occassional 'squawking' Parakeets high overhead, twittering Goldfinches hunting amoungst the Alders and then in one of the nearby gardens I spied a few Redwings and Blackbirds busily leaf turning for a late afternoon snack. Robin and Blue Tits were also seeking out an existence through the pathside shrubs.


Under one of the bridges I watched four Little Grebes constantly diving and disappearing from view.

Moving on downstream I disturbed a Water Rail who promtly dashed across the water and, you guessed, disappeared from view. Looking ahead, the horses were quietly going about their own business and I questioned whether I should continue or retrace my steps. The temperature was falling, light fading so I turned around and 15 minutes later I caught up with two female Goosanders actively diving near one of the town bridges. Here is the best of a few poor shots....I'll go back as soon as the roads are clear and safe.

Female Goosander.

On the return journey a Grey Heron patiently waiting and watching.

A Song Thrush gave me a severe stare.

Vacant room to let....anyone interested?

Nutkin scampers away with tonights snack.

Cormarant standing sentry duty.

The misty view from The Vinery (disused).
Time to ring Anita to get the kettle on...I'm coming home. FAB 


  1. Nice series as always, Frank. It looks pretty snowy there too!

  2. Great set of photos, looks like you had a nice outing.

  3. Gorgeous old brick bridge! Your Goosander looks exactly like our female Common Merganser...are they actually same bird, different name?

  4. This looks like a great day's birding. Thanks for taking us along. I'd like to see the Little Grebes.

  5. Mona. Not very deep, just icy now it's started to thaw plus another thin overlay last night.

    Eileen. Thanks, it was finger cold but pleasant after being locked inside for a few days.

  6. Hi Suasan. Correct..same species so go to the top of the class. We also have Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) but Hooded is a rarity over here.

    BTW I've no idea about the snow I go to the bottom of the class!!

  7. Fantastic post. I felt like I was there. Love the photos. They're all beautiful.

  8. Hi Steve. I was only out for 2 hours including the car journey time but it was worth the effort.
    The light is so poor that I couldn't capture the Little Grebes.

    Have e-mailed copy of pic taken last November. Hope you like it.

  9. Hi Cindy. Someone was whispering in my ear to keep on walking, perhaps it was you behind me!!

    BTW the 'Shadow & Light' pic you posted was georgeous.

  10. Productive visit Frank. Had quite a a few Goosander round here lately.
    The old Song Thrush certainly knows how to give 'the look'.

  11. Well done with the Goosander, a species ive got my fingers crossed for on my lake.....if it ever thaws!!

  12. I hope you get to go back soon for better views Frank. That happens to me sooo often. Looked like a nice riverside walk anway! (-:

  13. Lovely series of photos - but it certainly does look cold!

  14. ...Sensational Pictures...I love the redwing and the horses on the snow; wonderful....the shots on the river in its winter- beauty;
    so lovely!!!!
    Have a great day!
    ciao elvira

  15. ...looks like a lovely walk. The photo of your sawbill swimming away with the wake trailing behind him is very peaceful. I liked it. A beautiful series with the varied birds and the bridge too (the architecture of the bridge is gorgeous)!

  16. Looks like you had fun. Your birds look very close to some of ours - only different names.

  17. Very nice series Frank, getting to know your area, your views on nature and sharing them with us. What a fun day you must have had, based on the great many and different images taken~

  18. Some great shots there Frank, and congrats on the Gooseander. I went to Stithians on Tuesday and missed a male and female by the dam, even though I scanned the area with my scope, I should have looked a bit harder.

  19. Keith. Yes and it tempted me to go back yesterday but the Song Thrush failed to pose royalties!

    Warren. Every chance now the thaw has started.

    Jenny. I did, but the weather was crap, however I have posted the results..hope you like them.

    Mick. Thanks but it looks colder than it really is.

    Elvira. Thank you. You're far too kind. Whatever I shoot I always believe afterwards that I could have done better.

    Kelly. Like everywhere the scene changes with the weather and the seasons. Hopefully I'll get more chances to explore this stretch in the Spring.

    Bill S. Yes, Goosander is Common Merganser.

    Mary. Walking anywhere is a pleasure so if I can share some of the surroundings as well as the wildlife that's a bonus.

    Monty. The conditions don't help. I see Simon reporting that 85% of the water is now frozen..must be colder in the West Country.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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