Saturday, 19 January 2019
All our yesterdays
You will have to be a person of a certain age to understand where the headline above has its derivation, but then I grew up listening to the dulcet tones of Brian Inglis on the TV.
Today saw one of my rare forays onto Epsom Common, a visit made in dull, drizzly weather and characterised by an almost total absence of birds. The Stew Pond (above) held but four Cormorants, a Grey Heron and two Mallards: the woodland and open areas fared little better with very few tit flocks present and those that did appear were in low numbers. So far, so poor.
But of interest were the 'then and now' comparisons that I make when visiting Epsom Common - you see, back in 1975-76 this was very much one of my cherished birding patches. Looking back is enough to make me weep, as we were privy to breeding Grasshopper Warblers, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Willow Tits, with large areas of open heathy scrub that held Yellowhammers, Tree Pipits and plenty of Willow Warblers. Today? All gone. The scrub is now woodland and even though a lot has been done to restore some of this woodland back to heath, what has been created doesn't have that same feel that my youthful memory demands. It is like walking around a completely different place - strange and new even, although the ghosts of 45 years ago are still there, hidden under the bracken and behind the holly understory. I leave feeling as if I've just visited a long-dead past-life.
The colour had leaked out of the day with the dull and lifeless sky, but look and you shall find! This ring of fallen Crab Apples lit up the floor underneath the tree they had fallen from. Like a fairy ring, or maybe a sign from those carefree days of the mid-1970s, all long hair, flared trousers and reeling locustella warblers.