Showing posts from March, 2023

Qustions, questions

Five years ago, to this very day, I was knee-deep in Hawfinches, scouring the wooded valleys of the Surrey North Downs and enjoying numbers that had never been recorded before in the UK. I doubted that such experiences would be repeated again in my lifetime, and although this has been the case so far, events of the past week has questioned such an assumption. It started on March 5th, when Sussex-birder Mark Mallalieu found at least 70 Hawfinches at Fairmile Bottom near Arundel (in West Sussex). He wondered whether the Surrey sites that had hosted good numbers during the 2017-18 eruption might be worth checking. I took the hint! On March 10th I spent the afternoon on Headley Heath, taking a slight detour to check a small part of Bramblehall Wood. Apart from a single bird at Headley Warren, plus three over the heath,  I had to wait until 15.30hrs when a flock of 33 arrived from the south (Box Hill) and flew along the line of the western valley until veering off westwards towards High Ash

Getting better

The Beatles sang "I've got to admit it's getting better..." and I could say the same about the local birding over the past week. Redwings, after a winter of having gone missing, have suddenly appeared, with 300+ present on rank grassland/woodland within 800m from home last week and up to 360 feeding on Walton Downs horse paddocks this afternoon. My first decent sized group of Stonechats of the spring decided to show themselves on Epsom Downs (this afternoon) with six birds (four males, two females) that only encouraged head-scratching from myself in my trying to age and assign them to a subspecies - as one male was so much paler on the underparts than the others (a cleaner orange, clear white and dark black head, pictured above) and one of the females was brighter and cleaner than the other. I've read up, but am none the wiser. Maybe best to leave alone. A walk across Epsom and Walton Downs earlier today also rustled up three displaying Lapwing (a sound I never ti