For this weeks edition of Good Fences I'm taking you to one of the most exposed birding hotspots within the Surrey County recording area ... the Staines Reservoir causeway that bisects the north and south basins.
Definitely not the place to be on a dreary, cold and wet winter day unless you go well wrapped up but with rarities turning up anytime throughout the year sometimes you just have to brave the elements.
What I hadn't anticipated to find was that the north basin had been emptied for maintenance purposes but this does provide the ideal habitat for migrant waders etc to drop in from time time.
I recall this basin also being empty in September 2004 when I logged my first Pectoral Sandpiper in the UK.
Visitors this month have already included Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Dunlin, Ruff, Rock and Water Pipit, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Wheatear and a nearby Black Redstart.
Scanning the water to the south, while looking into the wintery sun, and the mud to the north while coping with the interruptions of several wind driven rain showers wasn't particularly comfortable but I did locate the Great Northern Diver, Oystercatcher (2), Common Redshank (4), Lapwing, Dunlin (3) plus the usual ducks such as Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Mallard, Tufted, Common Pochard, Northern Shoveler and several Shelduck.
Along the causeway bank I counted around 45 Pied Wagtails (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) busily feeding on insects. I should have paid more attention to all these Wagtails as there was probably a White (ssp. alba) amongst them. While looking through a small group of Meadow Pipits I located a moulting Water Pipit.
A Coot taking a stroll.
With a good number of [Eurasian] Wigeon frequenting the concrete slopes I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a few shots before heading home.
So enduring the elements added four species to my Surrey year list including one new addition to my 2015 annual list from the 29 species seen during a 55 minute visit.
Next time I'll try to plan a visit here when the sun is shining! FAB.