Thursday, 1 September 2016

Late summer on the farm

What better way to celebrate the arrival of September than to head out for a day's birding at a top location. Dungeness? Portland? Spurn? No, Canons Farm...

I shouldn't be so harsh on the place, as it has given me a lot of pleasure over the years. Unrewarded hard graft and frustrating days may outweigh the good birds and notable migration, but, as one wise old birder once said to me, "you remember your good days because of your poor ones." Today was an inbetweeny one.

I was joined throughout by Geoff Barter, another birder of a certain age that can happily choose to wander the birding wastelands of northern Surrey on the back of a lifetimes worth of 'birding good times' from elsewhere - maybe Canons Farm is like a retirement home for the satiated ornithologist. According to Geoff's phone app, we walked five miles across, up and over the farm today. We did give it a good bash, and not without reward: a Red Kite, 10 Common Buzzard, 2 Hobby, 4 Sparrowhawk, 2 Little Owl, 200 Swallow (many gathering on overhead wires), 12 House Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 immature male Common Redstart, 3 Common Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 15 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 50 Linnet and 3 Yellowhammer.

As the afternoon wore on, I ventured into Banstead Woods and came across a patch of buddlejia bathed in sunshine. Summer was putting on a late show. There on one of the blooms was a single Silver-washed Fritillary, tatty of wing but still full of spirit. Like the dying season, it was showing its age but was still a thing of beauty.

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