Canons Farm tested the resolve of two seasoned campaigners this morning, as Geoff and myself plodded across the arable wastes with scarcely a bird to look at. Something is amiss here. In previous winters, at the very least, the fields would hold decent numbers of pigeons, corvids, finches and thrushes. Have they been sprayed with something so foul that there is nothing left alive for the birds to feed upon? Our 'tame' Common Buzzard (above) seemed unconcerned about it all, but most probably has no food worries thanks to a supply of the bodies of birders who have keeled over with boredom. Our one flash of inspiration came in the form of a Woodcock, targeted and flushed at the edge of Banstead Woods - Geoff's 100th patch species, a good total for a waterless, inland site.
We parted ways in the bowels of Chipstead Bottom (nice imagery to juggle with there) where I then wandered along and up onto Park Downs (below).
If I were targeting birds here then I would have been sorely disappointed - I would have seen more if I'd stayed at home and sat in the cupboard-under-the-stairs blindfolded. Luckily for me I was looking for Stinking Hellebore, of which 60+ plants were found, in three separate (but close) locations. None were yet in full flower. By now (12.45hrs) the sun had real warmth to it, so my mind started to wander to wild flower meadows and butterflies, both of which this wonderful reserve possesses in abundance. Further clearance of scrub was underway which will help species recovery even further.