No two the same

The Priest Hill v Thorncombe Street challenge is already throwing up some interesting 'compare and contrast' dynamics. Take gulls for instance. They are a numerous and regular feature of the skies above the greater Banstead area, almost throughout the year. At nearby Canons Farm, the day total for Herring Gulls hot-winging it between landfill and reservoir runs easily into the high hundreds (aside from the mid-summer months). I suspect that the Priest Hill day total will not reach these heights, but will still be a large component of the avian biomass (I recorded 170 today). Contrast this with Thorncombe Street, where Ed's grand total this morning was one single bird - he says that he doesn't get decent large gull numbers till mid-winter. Maybe my (relative) proximity to the London Reservoir roost sites and the feeding stations at landfill sites is the reason behind this difference. And I may need this gull advantage, as his patch seems to get much larger Woodpigeon and thrush numbers than we do up here.

We don't need to travel that far away from a patch to see big differences to the bird composition. Canons Farm, Epsom Downs, Walton Downs and Priest Hill are all within two-three miles of each other, yet there are species present at each that do not occur at the others. All are dry, high-elevation sites (for Surrey), blessed with open grassland, hedges, copses and big skies, but that is where the similarities end. And it is because of these differences that we go out, optics at the ready, to see just what is about. No two days are the same at one site, so how can they possibly be similar on two patches that are miles apart? Bring it on...

The spectacular image above is of the 'enemy' territory at Thorncombe Street. I assume that Ed took it, and hope that he doesn't mind me using it. Click on this link to read more about this fascinating area and the details behind his days out in the field.


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