I do sometimes wonder if I suffer from SAD - Seasonal affective disorder - a type of depression that is brought on by the shorter days of winter and a lack of sunlight. The latter may affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which suppresses its ability to produce melatonin and serotonin. A lack of these chemicals can cause sleepiness and affect your appetite, mood and sleep. The continuing dull weather, with darkness starting to nudge daylight as early as 2.30pm, is wearisome. The temperature may be mild, but give me frosty, cold and sunny days anytime. My mood has been on a downward swing since October, and I've never been a fan of January and February, so it could be an interesting few weeks. But these are minor things to quibble about.
This afternoon saw a brief, but enjoyable visit to Priest Hill, a Surrey Wildlife Trust reserve just a 12 minute stroll from my front door. I have posted about this place before. Historically it has been farmland and municipal playing fields. There are no real reasons for it being a reserve other than the land has been given to the Trust on the understanding that a small part of it can be built upon. Residential housing is currently being constructed, but you will need a tidy sum to buy one (they start from £1.4 million!) Affordable housing doesn't come into it. For that money you get a view across open ground towards the west of London, and if you are (un)lucky, you might get to see me from time to time - counting the (few) birds present...
Anyway, back to today. The hoped for wintering Stonechats were located (just a male and female), a flock of 50 Meadow Pipits were good value, and 18 Skylark and 35 Fieldfare (above) were noteworthy. The site is at a high elevation (for Surrey) and undoubtably gets a dribble of passage migrants. I'll be intrigued to see what a bit of hard weather does - if we ever get any this winter - I reckon the vis mig here might just be notable.