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 tire of but is becoming a sound of my distant youth), a Little Owl (which has fallen in numbers locally), 430 Stock Dove (much commoner recently), a couple of 'chacking' Blackcap and at least 250 Jackdaw. For the first time in ages I had birds to look at/count/check through! However, as a strict believer in 'shifting baseline syndrome' I am not fooled!

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