Great Crested Grebe

These articles are written for the Godstone Parish magazine and reproduced here with the permission of the author, Keith Brandwood (01883 742740). If you would like to reproduce them in your magazine, it would be courteous to ask him - he would be very happy to give permission if he gets a credit. He would also probably be able to adjust the article to suit your own area as these are generally aimed for the Godstone and Bletchingley areas. 

Egyptian geese are native to central and southern Africa, where they are found in wetland habitats across the region, breeding in riverside vegetation and holes in trees. The birds were introduced to the British Isles during the 18th century, and were common in wildfowl collections by the year 1785. By the 19th century there were unpinioned birds found breeding in Bedfordshire, East Lothian and Norfolk, and wintering flocks were reported in various areas, presumably from wildfowl collections. Feral birds were also recorded in small numbers in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Egyptian geese have expanded considerably in numbers since the 1980s. In recent years the area supporting most Egyptian geese was Norfolk, but the species has slowly expanded into South East England. In Surrey most breeding records have been in the eastern part of the county. Egyptian geese are early breeders, with pairs defending potential areas from January onwards. Holes in trees are favoured, but they also nest on the ground, and as is the case at Godstone, a pair has used the wooden hut on the isle of the village pond. By the time you read this article the first of our summer migrants will be arriving. Look out for chiffchaffs singing, little ringed plovers at the lagoons at Merstham, sand martins above the sandpits at Bletchingley and, if you are lucky, wheatears passing through and maybe stopping along the North Downs.