Monday, 26 September 2016

A stubble field in north Surrey

It started when I reached the most western (and highest) part of Walton Downs. I was on the edge of one of the Langley Vale Farm copses when I heard a number of Greylag Geese calling - (not to be sniffed at locally) - estimating that maybe half a dozen might be involved. I scanned the sky, picked up two geese coming towards me and was puzzled by the fact that there were only the two of them and that they were both Canada. Nothing else came along, and it all went quiet.

Only a minute later I came in view of a small part of a large stubble field. And not 100m away were 13 of these:

Now, 13 Greylag Geese may not mean much to you, but away from Holmethorpe and Beddington, this is a ND&B moment of joy! The geese were restless and started to walk away, down the hill and out of view. I followed them, creeping along the edge of a copse until it stopped, revealing to me a panoramic view of the whole field - which looked like this!!

Bloody hell, had I been transported to Slimbridge? This was but a part of the goose-strewn scene set before me. My water-free downland patches (Canons Farm, Epsom and Walton Downs) receive a handful of feral goose records a year, mostly fly-overs. Double-figure counts are very unusual. And now I was being confronted by 188 Canada and 151 Greylag! Even my highest counts from Holmethorpe and Beddington seldom reached such heights. In all honesty, there was more likelihood of me finding a Yellow-browed Warbler out here this morning than coming across such numbers of geese. They tolerated me for 15 minutes before flying off westwards, keeping low and possibly pitching down nearby. Not to be overshadowed, 750+ Stock Doves were feeding over several of the neighbouring stubble fields. My highest count for this species anywhere. In fact, it appears to be the highest count ever made in the county. Who says inland, water-free patch birding is dull? It is anything but...

The geese have gone, the Stock Doves departed - the famous Walton Downs stubble field


  1. Your welcome to the bloody things, every morning I have a flock of c.250 fly in low over my head and land on the reserve and all together on Harty there must be around 800 Greylags on the stubble fields. They get chased from field to field by duck shooters. Much better the ringtail Hen Harrier that I had this morning and the Osprey close by, fishing in The Swale and the 65 Corn Buntings along the Harty Road and the Great White Egret in Capel Fleet that I photographed yesterday

  2. Of course Steve, don't take me too seriously. To some people Red Kites are as common as crows, seeing one on Sheppey would really excite me.

  3. Lol I love it when honking geese overfly at night!