Saturday 30 January 2010

Painshill Park at last, and goosanders!

It was to be my last day out in January. My year list wasn't at 100 yet. What was I to do? I'd seen from Tricia's blog that she'd seen goosanders at Painshill Park recently so I decided to visit the park as I didn't know it.

On the way from the car park to the bridge, I was assailed by the sound of 50-60 redpoll and siskin in the birch and alder trees near the river. I spent half an hour watching but the trees were very high and it was difficult to get a good angle.

Siskin. (click photos to enlarge)

I pressed on to the bridge, watching for any kingfishers. There is an entrance fee for the park of £6.60. I hoped it would be worth it. I signed up for gift aid as requested and then tried the local tearooms.

I had a cappuccino with a scone, jam and clotted cream. The 'cream' bore no resemblance to clotted cream at all, more like white rubber. I took it back and asked if I could just have another jam. He was very apologetic and said he had lots of cream and would get me some more. I was sceptical but he brought back a portion of cream which was even slightly runny in places and was more like the real thing (this being Rodda's Cornish clotted cream. Even though I'm from Devon I have to admit that Rodda's is hard to beat).

I had been advised to take the Historical route to the lake and I complied. I saw more redpoll, heard several nuthatch and then one showed well for me, picking out a bug from the bark of a tree.

Nuthatch with bug

A scan of the lake from above the plantation revealed no goosanders. I found the Chinese Bridge and was just about to look at the entrance to the grotto (open weekends and Bank holidays) when I glanced down the lake and saw in the distance what looked like goosanders. The binoculars confirmed. Great!

They were nervous and swam off at my careful approach. I went round the other side of the lake where the light was better. I got some reasonable shots of the three males and one female, infinitely better and closer than the very distant shots of them at Dungeness a few years ago.

Drake goosander.

Female goosander, male behind

Someone spooked them and they flew off. A pair of Egyptian geese flew off as well. I took some good shots (well they looked great in the viewfinder) and as they reached the optimum distance the camera froze. What was it? As they flew past I saw that my memory card was full!!

Egyptian geese, both male

I waited around and noticed that the lake is surrounded by trees so the larger birds have to circle in order to gain height. They also came in to land on the water from upwind. A couple of swans circled the trees outside and came round the upwind end of the lake and started their descent. One of them overshot and ended up on the ice sheet in the middle of the lake.

Mute swan coming in to runway three!

Hmmm! Seem to have overshot the waterway!
I watched the goosanders a while longer as well as looking for the kingfisher without success, before going back to the car.

Despite the rubber cream I enjoyed my afternoon there and will go again.


  1. Hi Phil. Well done with the Goosander. I think we met when you came around the other side for a better view? I was the blond kid with curly hair who was also photographing them with my tiny lens!


  2. Hi Phil. You've got some good shots there. I saw three Goosander in the river at Staines Moor today, but the light wasn't good for a picture then they flew away. I thought you were away on holiday. Is that next week? If so, have a good time!


  3. Hi Phil - great that you got there in time. They had all disappeared when I went today (Monday). I bumped into Fungus McBogle (it's OK - it didn't hurt at all) on my visit today. So it seems that four of us have now discovered Painshill's birds.

    Last season I managed the Great Crested Grebe weed dance there. Spring's a good time to go. Perhaps we call all meet up there one day?

    and finally - excellent shot and well done on the Nuthatch which proliferate.

    (I saw the Kingfisher again today :D )


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