Monday, 11 April 2016

Project awoken

Even after 40+ years of birding, this fascinating subject can still surprise me. I am no nearer to being settled in the way that I pursue it, and that in itself is something to be glad of. Each passing year sees me taking on new areas, returning to old ones, putting a bit more effort in, or a little less. So far in 2016 I have found myself being drawn into visiting Pulborough Brooks more often (now overdue a return) and giving the fields and woods of Canons Farm more time than is healthy. This latter site is having something of a purple patch (relatively speaking!) what with White-fronted Geese, Mediterranean Gulls, Iceland Gull, Short-eared Owl, Dartford Warbler and Hawfinch all having been recorded this year. To that can also be added Gadwall (site first - there is no water here), Ring Ouzel and Redstart. Another dimension to the birding experience on the farm is the attraction that the fields can have for birds when the conditions are right for feeding - there have been large flocks of Chaffinches (up to 1200), Linnets (300), Woodpigeons (1000), Stock Doves (350) and several hundred corvids.

Spurred on by this, I have reawakened an old project that had been sitting on the back-burner, that of an historical account of the ornithological record of the 'high ground' close to my home. Much of this is what could be termed 'ornithologically poor', but that really does do disservice to what is a fascinating, if water-free, area. I had started to retrieve data from old bird reports and county avifaunas, and early indications are that the final account may well surprise a few people out there. Some of these places have been birded, on and off, for many decades. To read of breeding Corncrake, Red-backed Shrike, Wryneck.... well, it brings a tear to the eye. Walton and Epsom Downs, Walton and Banstead Heath, Headley Heath, Banstead Downs, the Cheam parks, they're are all included. Oh, and Canons Farm of course!

When complete I will produce it in pdf format so that any interested party can have a copy. I've done this sort of thing before, when collating all of my own personal birding data for my 'uber patch' (left). It kept me quiet for hours, and being kept on the computer means that it is constantly updated. I also produced a similar reports on lepidoptera and plants. This new project is on a larger scale. It may take some time to complete, but I'll keep you posted...

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