Friday, 5 October 2012

Brambling at last

Brambling is the bird which arguably started the birding scene at Canons Farm. Steve Gale's discovery of a flock of 1,250 birds in early 2008 attracted many visitors to the site (including myself) and generating much interest from far and wide, putting CFBW on the map. Although it was a while until I took it up as a patch, I instantly fell for the site and its potential. It was big area of countryside and the seemingly endless stretching fields, bordered by fences and hedgerows and there was much to explore. No fields had names at the time and it was all unfamiliar; as I walk the patch now, I perceive it in a very different way back then. Occasionally, finding myself in an unusual position makes me see it how I used to, which feels a lot more how the birds see it - the farm itself being a gently rolling open expanse interspersed with an attractive tangle of hedges, barbed wire and clumps of vegetation.

Anyway, although such huge numbers are an exceptional occurrence, the farm usually supports at least a small population and it's one of the more reliable Surrey sites for catching up with this northern finch. Last winter was very poor and I haven't seen one since November. Andy Downing found a single in Heathside aka Dotterel Field yesterday and I had a look in the afternoon, post-college but had no luck. Today, however, I found the Chaffinch flock again and, eventually, pinned the Brambling down - it showed quite well in the end, very near Canons Farmhouse. This is by far the commonest bird that I still needed for the patch year and represents number 102 on my patch year list, the title of tartiest bird now going to Short-eared Owl, which I'm hoping I'll pick up in early November, if not before.