The local footpaths between Woodmansterne and Banstead were searched this morning, but the birds were only notable by their absence, save for a single Reed Bunting that flew low over the meadows behind the Evergreen nursery. The local harvest of sloes has never looked better, the Blackthorn bushes around Banstead are heavy with the mealy purple-blue fruit. In the sunshine this morning, the downs positively throbbed with its colour. The botanical highlight came courtesy of a single Milk Thistle, found in a gateway close to the outskirts of Banstead village. For a quiet, benign and docile November morning it was strangely invigorating.