The snowfields of Banstead
My perverse approach to birding surfaced once again as I elected to turn my back on multiple Iceland Gulls at Beddington and also treat the Holmethorpe Smew in similar fashion. Instead, I spent most of the day at my other local birding patch, Canons Farm/Banstead Woods.
The thermometer in my back garden was registering -8.8C at 07.00hrs. Instead of driving on the icy roads I walked to the farm, which only takes 25 minutes. Once on site I immersed myself in the task of counting everything that I came across. This is the sort of simplistic ornithology that I enjoy, meandering about fields and woods with a notebook in hand, counting the mainly common ensemble set before me. There were highlights: the two noisy Crossbills flew low to the east; a Woodcock was noisily flushed from underneath a Yew tree; a loose flock of 25 Great Tits that fed on the ground underneath beech trees just like Chaffinches; the vibrance of colour in the reflected light and the fact that the birds seemed to be celebrating the calm day with a surprising amount of song and display.
There were few winter thrushes here although suburban gardens not far away were still harbouring hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfares. They say that in London you are never more than six feet from a rat (or is it six metres?). Well, the same can be said for Surrey and dog walkers. Even in the middle of Banstead Woods, well off the footpaths, dogs would come frollicking up to me dragging its owner along in its wake. Before I'm accused of being 'doggist' I must point out that I am myself owned by a Cocker Spaniel...