Monday, 1 February 2021

Crests and cocks - 3km (Days 10-11)

Woodcock real estate at Banstead Wood - two birds came out of this tangle

A new month and, let's be frank, who isn't glad to see the back of January? A doubling of effort was called for this morning, with a dusting down of enthusiasm and a big kick to send moroseness into touch. Did they work? Well, sort of...

I had two bird targets this afternoon, both in Banstead Wood and both species that had so far eluded me this year. First up was Firecrest. Local birder Ian Ward had located a pair over the weekend, and he had kindly mentioned the area that he had found them in. It was an area of semi-open woodland with a profusion of mature Holly. It only took five minutes to find one - then possibly two - although no song was heard. Next up was Woodcock. During the winter this wader can be flushed from the woodland floor, but it is rather hit or miss as to whether you will come across them. Luck (and patience) plays a big part, and for me both were present, as I flushed two in quick succession from an area of dead bracken and bramble. I still get a great thrill from this noisy bundle of deep brown feathers as it takes off from its hiding place.

I walked homewards across Canons Farm, which was a grey and chill journey, the silence at times quite unnerving. Apart from three discrete flocks (160 Redwing, 40 Fieldfare and 30 Linnet) all I could muster up was a female Stonechat. With cold hands, ears and nose it was a no-brainer to cut my losses and retire early for a warming cup of tea. It had been a quiet birding session punctuated by moments of pleasure. And for those I have to be grateful.

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