It's been cold, hasn't it? The thermometer might not have hit the lows that it had done earlier in the year, but the low grey gloom, piercing easterly wind and stinging sleet kept this part-time birder indoors. I found myself a new natural-history themed project to get my teeth into, but more about that another time.
Back to today. Sun! What a treat, all day sunshine which, when out of the still persistent easterly, had a touch of warmth about it. I ended up on Walton Downs, part of which is taken up by Langley Vale Farm - the very same farm where the Woodland Trust is creating the Millennium Wood. I've banged on about this project at length, mainly from the perspective of worrying that the rich arable plant flora will be lost, the ancient shaws and hedgerows be irretrievably merged into the new planting, and that the few pairs of Lapwings that breed there will disappear.
There was a lot of activity going on. A tractor was disturbing the soil in fields to the north of Round Wood, not a ploughing per se, more of a scarifying. Up to 400 Jackdaw, 300 Black-headed Gull and 75 Common Gull were in close attendance. Teams of men were erecting a high fence across the field south of Little Hurst Wood, and when I say high I'm talking 2m plus! More planting appears to have been carried out in the fields butting up to the 'drove way' footpath that leads towards Headley. And the scarifying of further fields has been carried out on the eastern side of the site, with more of those awful plastic pipes for the protection of young trees dumped alongside. It doesn't look promising... however, just to stop me from becoming all 'doom and gloom', one of these fields held a resting flock of 17 Lapwings - they were gone three hours later.