Colley Hill Car Park was a seething mass of metalwork by 11.30hrs - no room to park plus at least another 50 vehicles tucked along the minor road that leads up to it. Fortunately I was leaving the area at the time, having spent the morning birding the farmland at nearby Mogador. Lockdown plays havoc with the human footfall at any of these 'edge of town' beauty spots. With the shops, cinemas, swimming pools and gymnasiums closed, who can blame people for heading out into the countryside. It will be quiet again once the shops and cafes re-open.
Mogador is a relatively small area of mixed arable farmland and pasture, on the edge of Banstead Heath, blessed with big skies and a fair amount of scrub and hedgerow. I have an increasing fondness of the place. Positioned just north of the North Downs scarp at Colley Hill, I have managed to establish a rapport with its birdlife, enjoying spring and autumn migrant action plus a small but select wintering population of thrushes, finches and buntings. It will not be long before something of note appears.
It was a pleasure to come across a flock of 30 Yellowhammers (top) this morning, an increasingly scarce bird this far north in the county, although both Holmethorpe and Canons Farm are nearby sites that still maintain decent numbers of this bunting. A single Reed Bunting was with them. Also recorded were 3 Red-legged Partridges, 14 Skylarks, 2 Stonechats, 150 Redwings, 90 Fieldfares and 130 Linnets. It was one of those still, grey and murky mornings that felt as if I were birding indoors.
The farmland here floods most winters, sizeable pools more than flashes, and despite thorough checking I've yet to record a wader on them, although I have flushed Common Snipe from the field edges on several occasions and have had Golden Plover fly over.