Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Misidentified water

With a few Parrot Crossbills turning up in the country (including a flock just outside of Surrey), I thought it worthwhile searching my nearest sizeable coniferous woodland. When I say nearest I really mean the most obvious and convenient - Reigate Heath. The pines start at the car park and pepper the  surrounding heathland, which is largely golf course. A couple of hours worth of wandering did not provide the hoped for 'chups' come calling from the tree tops. In fact the area was deathly quiet, save for the odd Redwing and Wren.

There was an amusing interlude. I carried on walking south-west beyond the heath where a collection of small streams meander through the sandy soil. Through a stand of trees I spied water - a lot of it! Where on earth was this? My mind went into overdrive, hopes were high that this was a newly created wetland that would repay watching. Surely such a large waterbody would not have eluded a birder's detection! I phoned local birder Gordon Hay, as if there was anybody who would know anything about it, he would. I described where I was and he too was non-plussed as to where this water was. Access seemed a problem though. I could see the water in the distance, but thick copse and, typical of outer-Surrey, fences, were blocking my path. Undetered I skirted wide around these obstacles, coming at the water from the opposite side. I found a pleasant country lane that started to run parallel to the water, hidden from my view by a sandy bank (and accompanying fence). And then everything started to look familiar. That sandy bank... that cottage... oh yes, I'd been here before. It was Buckland Sandpits, where I'd seen an Eider several years before. I had only ever approached it from a totally different direction and did not realise that I was so close to it at the edge of Reigate Heath - my inner compass was way out. I sheepishly phoned Gordon back, who in the interim had come to the conclusion that my water body may well have been Buckland. What chance of my identifying a Parrot Crossbill when I couldn't name a large water body?

So, no crossbills and no new birding hot spot. There was only one thing for it. Time for lunch.

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