Yesterday's excitement, the Rustic Bunting that is, was a lesson that even if the date seems too late and the site is not that inspiring, there's always a possibility of bumping into something unexpected. I don't actually know the name of the finder, but well done to him, sadly for those who missed it yesterday it seems to have gone today.
View from East Valley Farm
I set off to day and walked down to Hogsbush and gave the big stubble field a good walk over. There were a lots of birds, 30+ Skylarks, a couple of groups of about 20 Linnets, two coveys of Grey Partridge, one of eight and one ten, a single Yellowhammer, masses of Woodpigeons, one Mistle Thrush, but no surprises and no prizes. For a change I decided to walk away from Bockhill and towards Oxney Wood. Bird-wise it was very quiet as I waked down the fabulously named Norway Drove, up to Collingwood Road East and along St Margaret's Road. All these roads sound as if it is very developed, but in fact these are all tracks and footpaths. I think that back in Victorian times there were plans to develop the area and these were to be the grid of roads that would form the structure for that plan. Luckily it came to nothing. Heading along St Margaret's Road, I past East Valley Farm, and the view to the North East from there goes beyond Kingsdown and on a fine day the Goodwin Sands are on view.
Beyond the farm and crossing over Nelson Park Road, Victory Road and Green Lane (all tracks) I arrived at the wood. I've always though it was an extension of Oxney Wood named after Oxney Court, but it now has a brand new notice board (new since I was last there anyway) proclaiming it as Freedown Wood, and under the management of Ringwould and Kingsdown Parish Council. It is good to know that it is being look after and it did seem pretty clear of rubbish and car tracks today. I don't know why, but I've never found it particularly productive for birds, and of course this time of year is never good, unless you bump into a feeding flock somewhere. I have resolved to try and look at it more often, there does seem potential there and I don't know of anyone who does survey it.
From the bottom corner there is a view back to Ringwould, and I assume that the path that I was on continues in that direction.
I took the route back to Station Road, with Oxney Wood on my right hand side. We live in a house named the Hidden House, but it really isn't as hidden away as much as this attractive house on the edge of the wood.
When I got to Station Road I took the footpath along side the horse fields to the top of Pond Lane, and there was the Snow Bunting, feeding in the middle of the road. It was even more difficult to approach it on foot than in a car. In the end I sat on the side of the road and waited for it to work it's way towards me as it fed along the edge. There must be about one car a day along Pond Lane, and it was just my luck that it came along as I was finally getting closer to the bird and with a bit of luck it would have got close enough for a decent picture about three minute later, but of course it flushed and I decided not to wait until it returned to the road and start the whole waiting game again (too cold for sitting around for long).
At the bottom of Pond Lane there's a dense piece of scrub next to the church. There was a lot of activity there, with Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Goldcrests feeding along the side of the road. Suddenly every thing disappeared into cover and above I saw that I wasn't the only one that had realised that this area was full of small birds. From there it was just another half a mile home. I reckon that I'd down about 5.5 miles, which wasn't bad at all.