I didn't think that this 'stay local' birding during 2015 would be an easy option. After all, north Surrey is not known for its ornithological riches, particularly in an area bereft of open water - that is, apart from the odd park pond. If I had chosen to include Beddington (a bit further north) or Holmethorpe (a bit further south) then my chances of success would have been substantially greater. But neither are walkable from my home, and that was always an important part of my plans for this year.
Last week added Lesser Whitethroat (species 89) to the list and I had my second female/immature Black Redstart of the spring at Langley Vale, always a difficult species to come across locally. But, for many hours of toil, these are scant rewards.
This morning saw me up at dawn and leaving the house at 05.30hrs to walk up to Canons Farm in a constant drizzle. I had visions of at least a Grasshopper Warbler, maybe a Cuckoo, even a fly-by tern or wader. Apart from getting very wet, nothing of note appeared before me. It was disappointing to say the least. What made it even worse was a phone call from a very excited Gordon Hay, who was feasting upon Wood Sandpiper, Whimbrel and Ringed Plover at Holmethorpe Sand Pits. His perseverance deserves it, and I couldn't claim that I wasn't aware that an open body of water at this time of year on such a murky morning would have the potential to be good - I just stuck to my principles of staying local. This tactic has the potential to infuriate far more than delight...
To combat all of this I will be going to Dungeness very soon for a week of 'ornithological blood transfusions'. I need them, if only to reacquaint myself with a whole raft of species that I will not see around here. But there is a big benefit coming up! My local area is very good indeed botanically and boasts a wealth of notable butterflies and moths. From now (until the autumn) they will take centre stage. It would be typical that when I'm not trying, a decent bird might decide to show itself to me. I can but hope.