Saturday, 7 March 2020
Beating the bounds
I fancied stretching my legs today, so decided upon a walk around the perimeter of the 'mini-uber patch'. I left home, on foot, at 06.10hrs and returned seven hours later. According to an app on my phone this comprised of 36,925 steps covering 24km (just under 15 miles). It might have done my cardiovascular system the world of good, but as far as the birding went it was very poor - little in song, much of the walk seemingly bird less, highlights hard to suggest. The footpaths were in bad condition, not just ankle-deep mud with washed away foundation, but sorely lacking in vegetation clearance. In the summer some of these are going to be impassable. It is quite sad to walk through beautiful countryside that is so bereft of wildlife. What were once arable and pastural farm fields are now largely horse paddocks, golf course or monoculture grass. The area between Banstead and Gatton that I passed once played host to Tree Sparrow colonies - 56 pairs in 10 colonies some 50-odd years ago. Today? Need you ask?
One (semi) highlight was visiting a recently created water body on the Surrey Downs Golf Club (below). Any standing water in this dry area is a treat, and present this morning were 5 Tufted Ducks and 2 Little Grebes. A similar plastic-bottomed creation at Walton Heath Golf Course, a little bit larger than the one visited this morning, also enticed a pair of Little Grebes, and they stayed to breed. It just shows how these birds must overfly such dry areas on the look-out for new habitat.
Migrant wise poor. Two Stonechats on Epsom Downs could not make up for my disappointment. Not even a Chiffchaff...