Friday, 25 January 2019
The Banstead Downs Conservators have obviously been busy recently, judging by the large area of scrub at the southern end of the site that has been cleared. Home to large colonies of both Small and Chalkhill Blue butterflies, this site management should do wonders for the spread of the butterflies food plants (Kidney and Horseshoe Vetch).
When I first set foot on these downs in the mid-1970s it was an open area with light scrub, and still supported breeding Grasshopper Warbler and Tree Pipit. Both were gone by the 1990s, due to the scrubbing up on site and other factors away from the locality. Stirling efforts by work parties over recent years has opened up much of the area once again. I've always struggled to see much of ornithological interest here, but that has not been the case for all birders - on 21st May 1956, W.P. Izzard had the good fortune to come across a Lesser Grey Shrike, and in addition, a Pratincole sp was observed by an unnamed observer flying over the downs on 14th September 1971 - this place has form!! I would happily settle for far less, a Great Grey Shrike or Short-eared Owl would do.
If you would like to find out more about the work of the Conservators, click here.