Birding locally off-piste
Sometimes it pays to just wander off the beaten track, search areas that just don't get looked at and, regardless of the outcome, enjoy the ride. Combine that philosophy with a calm, sunny and warm afternoon and you are on to a winner. I parked up at Margery Wood and walked northwards across the open farmland at Mogador. This area always looks good to me, a mixture of rough grassland, some crops and plenty of isolated scrubby bushes. My love of chats is an open secret, so a group of four tame Stonechats, together with an isolated single, was success enough. There are many footpaths that then criss-cross both Walton and Banstead Heaths and, although tempted by them, returned to search the slopes of Colley Hill - but not before a noisy flock of five Crossbills flew over heading eastwards.
Colley Hill is one of my favourite places, although my birding success here is poor. The cleared slopes, with isolated scrub, looks ideal for migrants. I always think it looks ideal for Ring Ouzels, but despite many visits during Spring and Autumn passage have failed to find even the one... until today. A female/immature flew into view from the bottom of the slope and alighted in brambles two-thirds of the way up. Marvellous stuff!
With the sun fully out and attendant pockets of warmth, a few butterflies were on the wing, including Small White, Peacock and Painted Lady (the latter two species below).