The grapevine system is out of order again - any urgent news will be posted via Twitter.

Records over the spring and summer
Thank you all for the continued submission of detailed bird and wildlife sightings so far this year. Our database for 2012 onwards is now nearing 30,000 records. As we enter the breeding season, we are going to be more selective about the records that we report on the blog for various reasons, instead focusing on reporting migrants, but we will continue to gratefully accept all records (breeding information being very important!) and store them in our database so that we can keep tabs our local bird populations and report on them at a later date. Thanks!

27th June 2017

Four Swallows were over the farm and a Little Owl was on the east side of Horse Pasture; a Buzzard and a Yellowhammer were also noted at the farm.

An incredible butterfly record involved three White-letter Hairstreaks in Banstead Woods, a first for the recording area as far as we are aware. A Purple Hairstreak showed well by Reads Rest Lane and two Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen in BW, where other butterflies on the wing included an Essex Skipper, four Small Skippers, three Large Skippers, 54 Marbled Whites, a Small White, three Large Whites, four Commas, a Red Admiral, a Small Tortoiseshell, three Speckled Woods, 60 Meadow Browns and 50 Ringlets.
Purple Hairstreak by Reads Rest Lane
Purple Hairstreak by Reads Rest Lan

Duncan Jennings, Stephen Ward (photos) and WoodChips Conservation Volunteers

26th June 2017

It's easy to fall into a state of birding lassitude at this time of year but unexpected encounters cannot be discounted, as demonstrated by a Redshank heard over Chipstead Downs at 11:20 (GB), representing the second patch record. Other news included the Lesser Whitethroat still singing by Hither Field and a Hobby hunting at the farm, where two Little Owls were calling, a Swallow mobbed a Sparrowhawk and 12 Swifts flew over.

A female Purple Emperor made for a thrilling encounter on the path near Piddly Pond while a Small Blue was showing on the Kidney Vetch in Barn Field. Other butterflies on the wing included Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Small Heath, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Large White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown. Piddly Pond sported a Southern Hawker.

♀ Purple Emperor near Piddly Pond
Small Blue in Barn Field

Geoff Barter (photo 1) and David Campbell (photo 2)

25th June 2017

The Systematic List has been tidied up and updated.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew past and a Little Owl called from the Infront George East copse while 12 Swifts and six Swallows flew around.

Four Marbled Whites, five Small Tortoiseshells, three Commas and good numbers of both Meadow Browns and Ringlets were also seen.

Comma at Stoney Nob

David Campbell

24th June 2017

Text-list: The grapevine system is out of order again - any urgent news will be posted via Twitter.

Bird sightings in the BW sector included singles of Hobby, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kestrel, Buzzard and Greenfinch, six Swifts, three Whitethroats, three Treecreepers and three Bullfinches.

A Small Blue was on the Barn Field patch of Kidney Vetch. A Silver-washed Fritillary was seen around Park Farm, along with a Green Hairstreak, while other sightings included a Small Skipper, 80 Marbled Whites, two Green-veined Whites, a Large White, two Commas, a Red Admiral, two Small Tortoiseshells, a Speckled Wood, 80 Meadow Browns, 35 Ringlets, two Small Heaths and two Common Blues.
The 'Aslan path' attracted a lone Southern Hawker.

Small Blue on the Kidney Vetch patch in Barn Field
Ian Ward

23rd June 2017

A juvenile Pied Wagtail was at Legal & General. Two Yellowhammers were at the farm. Sightings in the BW sector included a Lesser Whitethroat on the edge of Hither Field and a gathering of 23 Stock Doves there. Three Whitethroats were also noted.

The Kidney Vetch path in Barn Field held a Small Blue, while other butterfly sightings included a Dark Green Fritillary, 100 Marbled Whites, three Red Admirals, four Commas, 10 Small Heaths, a Small Tortoiseshell, six Speckled Woods, 100 Meadow Browns, 20 Ringlets and five Small/Essex Skippers.

Paul Goodman and Ian Pratley

22nd June 2017 - Banstead Woods Nature Reserve opening

We were pleased to attend the opening of the new Banstead Woods nature reserve and Narnia-themed nature trail, adorned with wood carvings inspired by the C. S. Lewis classic. Sightings in the sector included a Swift overhead, a couple of Treecreepers, a Bullfinch and a Whitethroat, with headline butterfly news of two Small Blues showing on the Barn Field Kidney Vetch patch and the first Silver-washed Fritillary of the year around Stagbury Field. Further butterflies included 21 Marbled Whites, three Small Skippers, a Brimstone, three Commas, three Red Admirals, two Speckled Woods, two Small Heaths, two Common Blues, 23 Meadow Browns and four Ringlets.

CFBWBG's Mark Stanley and Linda Mount returning from their trip through the magical wardrobe!

Here is a local news piece about the opening:

21st June 2017

Two Swallows and five Swifts were over the farm in the evening, while two Yellowhammers were around Canons Farmyard.

Several Small Tortoiseshells and Meadow Browns were on the wing.

singing ♂ Yellowhammer in Canons Farmyard

Song Thrush by Canons Farmhouse

a Carrion Crow fledgling with its parent in Owl Meadow

David Campbell

20th June 2017

A Hobby flew over BW but as far as birds go it was generally another quiet summer day on the patch produced the usuals, such as Yellowhammer, Kestrel, Whitethroat, Goldcrests, Nuthatches, Green Woodpecker and Song Thrushes.

 In another productive day for butterflies, BW sightings included four Small Blues showing on the Kidney Vetch patch in Barn Field, two Dark Green Fritillaries, a Green Hairstreak, 60 Marbled Whites, six Large Skippers, 11 Small Skippers, five Commas, two Red Admirals, two Small Tortoiseshells, three Speckled Woods, 20 Ringlets, 80 Meadow Browns, eight Small Heaths and six Common Blues.

Duncan Jennings, Ian Pratley and Woodchips

13-18th June 2017

There have been few avian highlights since the last update, but a Red Kite did call in and check out Owl Meadow on 17th. Singing Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler around Legal & General on 13th were unexpected, but regular Garden Warblers were still singing by the caravan site on 13th and at Harholt (two) to 15th. One of the established Lesser Whitethroats was rattling at Harholt on 16th. Three Lesser Black-backed Gulls over the farm on 16th and three Pied Wagtails, including a juvenile, at Legal & General on 18th are the pick of the other bird sightings. Family groups of Whitethroats are now appearing, the first being at Stagbury Field on 15th, while a juvenile Blackcap was caught (along with a male Whitethroat) at Harholt on 15th. Fledgling Jackdaws were noted around The Knoll on 15th.

The patch has been alive with butterflies, as we enter the peak few weeks for our specialist species. The biggest news was a sighting of two Small Blues in the Banstead Woods sector on 15th, a testament to the conservation work of the Woodchips group. Other news from the sector includes the first Dark Green Fritillary on 18th, with the first Marbled White being seen on 13th and counts of this stunning species rising to 50 on 18th. The first four Essex Skippers of the year were logged on 18th, three days after the first Small Skippers. Singles of both Dingy and Essex Skippers were noted on 18th and two Green Hairstreaks were seen on 15th. Four Large Skippers were counted on 15th. A lone Small Copper is down for 18th. Counts of commoner species in the BW sector include nine Ringlets on 18th (after the first five on 15th), 63 Meadow Browns on 15th, and two Commas on 18th; five Red Admirals on 18th, and eight Small Heaths and nine Speckled Woods on 15th.

Butterfly news in the CF sector includes the earliest date this year for Ringlet on the patch, pipping BW by a day with two on 14th, this species rising to 30 on 17th (when 40 Meadow Browns were counted). 14 Small Tortoiseshells was a stong total on 17th, when three Speckled Woods and three Commas were seen.

After a sighting of our first Southern Hawker of the summer on 13th, another busy session for odonata on 18th saw four Broad-bodied Chasers, 15 Azure Damselflies and five Large Red Damselflies, all being seen around Piddly Pond but for one of the chasers, which was at Park Farm.

Dark Green Fritillary at Fames Rough on 18th
♂ Green Woodpecker at Chipstead Downs on 13th
♂ Whitethroat at Harholt on 15th
juvenile Blackcap at Harholt on 15th
juvenile Blue Tit at Harholt on 15th
Broad-bodied Chaser in BW on 18th
Greater Yellow Rattle at Fames Rough on 16th
Yellow Bird's Nest in BW on 15th

David Campbell (photo 2), Josh Burch, Paul Goodman (photo 8), Duncan Jennings, Ian Magness (photo 7), Mark Stanley (photos 3-5), Ian Pratley, Ian Ward (photos 1 and 6) and Woodchips

11th June 2017

Seven Swifts were over BW and the Lesser Whitethroat at the Harholt Plantation was still singing.

Ian Pratley

Eds: We have updated the submission form to include dedicated fields for odonata.

10th June 2017

A quiet day for birds, the only significant news being the continued presence of a Lesser Whitethroat in The Knoll, a Greenfinch singing along Outwood Lane and a lone Swift over the farm.

We did enjoy a patch first, though, with a stunning male Beautiful Demoiselle seen along the edge of Banstead Woods at Perrotts-by-Wood (IGM). Piddly Pond provided further odonata interest, with no fewer than three Broad-bodied Chasers seen alongside five Azure Damselflies, three Large Red Damselflies and a Common Blue Damselfly.

Butterflies in the BW sector included a Dingy Skipper, two Large Skippers, two Green Hairstreaks, three Speckled Woods, three Small Heaths, four Common Blues, a Small Tortoiseshell, four Red Admirals, eight Brimstones and 30 Meadow Browns. Over in the CF sector, a Painted Lady and a Small Tortoiseshell were seen.

♂ Beautiful Demoiselle along the edge of Perrotts-by-Wood
Large Red Damselfly at Piddly Pond

Ian Magness (photo 1), Natasha Preston and Ian Ward (photo 2)

9th June 2017

Avian highlights at the farm included three Mallards, 25 Swifts, a Swallow and two Pied Wagtails. A further 18 Swifts were seen over BW and a Lesser Whitethroat was still singing at the Harholt Plantation.

A Painted Lady made an appearance at Stoney Nob, while two Small Tortoiseshells and five Meadow Browns were seen across the patch.

Painted Lady at Stoney Nob

David Campbell (photo), Paul Goodman and Ian Pratley

8th July 2017

Another quiet summer day on the patch, with a few resident birds seen in the BW sector, along with a Brown Argus of note.

Duncan Jennings and Woodchips

7th July 2017

Eight Swifts were seen over the BW sector and residents going about their business included a singing Yellowhammer at Lunch Wood.

Ian Pratley

5th June 2017

A Hobby flew over Perrotts Farm and two Lesser Whitethroats were singing in the Harholt Plantation this morning while a few Swifts moved overhead.

Geoff Barter

4th June 2017

A remarkable morning for raptors saw six Red Kites share the sky at the same time over CF. Also rather unexpected was a pair of Peregrines engaged in a food pass. A walk along Chipstead Downs revealed a Rook, a Greenfinch and seven Swifts, while a local male Kestrel was showing well.

It was probably a little drafty for most butterflies' liking but singles of Comma and Common Blue were noted, along with three Meadow Browns.

adult ♂ Kestrel at Chipstead Downs

David Campbell (photo) and Ian Jones

3rd June 2017

A Red Kite flew low over the A217 in the evening and two Mallards graced Piddly Pond. The Harholt Plantation again resounded with the rattling of a Lesser Whitethroat and two Swifts flew over the BW sector. The first fledgling Great Tits of the year were noted.

Odonata around Piddly Pond included four Azure Damselflies and singles of Large Red and Common Blue Damselflies. Butterflies in the sector were represented by a Dingy Skipper, three Large Skippers, an Orange-tip, a Green Hairstreak, six Small Heaths, 17 Common Blues, 12 Meadow Browns, three Speckled Woods, two Green-veined Whites, three Large Whites, two Small Whites, five Red Admirals and six Brimstones. A Cinnabar moth was also seen.

♀ Mallard on Piddly Pond
Large Skipper
 Ian Magness and Ian Ward (photos)

1-2nd June 2017

Sightings in the BW sector on 1st included a Hobby and the Lesser Whitethroat still singing at The Knoll, as well as two Mistle Thrushes. Nothing unusual, apart perhaps from two Mallards, was noted at CF on 2nd but breeding Yellowhammers and Whitethroats were in evidence.

It's worth mentioning that we have been quietly logging first juveniles and should really have been reporting them here. So far, we've recorded young Robins, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Goldfinches and Nuthatches, while young Great Spotted Woodpeckers have been heard in the nest.

Butterflies in BW on 1st included three Large Skippers and five Meadow Browns (both new for the year), three Dingy Skippers, a Holly Blue, 13 Common Blues, a Brown Argus, four Green Hairstreaks, four Small Heaths, four Speckled Woods, a Peacock and a Red Admiral.

There was late news of a flock of 22 Canada Geese over the east side of BW on Monday.

David Campbell, Paul Goodman, Duncan Jennings, Mark Stanley and Woodchips

31st May 2017

Bird sightings at Canons Farm included a Little Owl and a Collared Dove.

A Speckled Wood was also seen.

Duncan Jennings

25-30th May 2017

Eds: With apologies for the lack of daily postings again - I've been away over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The few avian highlights over the last few days have included a Cormorant over BW on Friday and a Hobby over BW on Saturday, followed by a Red Kite, a Canada Goose, 40 Swifts and two Swallows over BW today. Two Lesser Whitethroats and four Garden Warblers have been singing.

In a fairly busy week for other wildlife, 16 species of butterfly have been recorded, included Dingy Skippers (with a high of 11 on Friday), Grizzled Skippers, Green Hairstreaks, Small Heaths, Small Coppers, Brown Argus and a scattering of Common Blues. 27th was fruitful for odonata in the BW sector, with a Broad-bodied Chaser seen along with Common Blue, Azure and Large Red Damselfly. Burnet Companion moths emerged from Friday, Silver-Ys have been seen and Common Spotted Orchids are now on show.

Garden Warbler at BW on Friday
Common Blues mating at BW on Friday

Paul Goodman (photos), Duncan Jennings, Ian Pratley, Janice Pratley, Ian Ward and Woodchips

Round-up 20-24th May 2017

Just a quick overview of highlights to catch up on the last few days. 20th saw six House Martins over the farm. Two Hobbies flew over BW on 21st, when singles of Rook and Tawny Owl were also noted in the sector. Singing warblers still maintaining territory at BW include three Garden Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and the Willow Warbler.

The first Brown Argus of the year was seen at BW on 23rd, while Common Blue numbers have increased and other species on the wing have included

Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Small Heath, Small Copper, Brimstone, Large White, Orange-tip, Comma, Peacock and Red Admiral. On the botanical side of things, Common Twayblade and Dame's-violet have sprung to life.

Small Heath at BW on 21st
 Paul Goodman, Duncan Jennings, Ian Pratley, Ian Ward (photo) and Woodchips

19th May 2017

Sightings in the BW sector included two Garden Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and the Willow Warbler singing at the Harholt Plantation. Two Swallows were on the wires by Perrotts Farmhouse.

Paul Goodman

18th May 2017

Sightings at CF included a Cormorant, a Grey Heron, six Mallards, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, nine Swifts and three Swallows over, as well as a Collared Dove and seven Whitethroats.

Garden Warblers were still singing in BW at the Harholt Plantation and near the housing estate.

David Campbell and Ian Pratley

16th May 2017

A Spotted Flycatcher sallying from the treetops on the edge of the Harholt Plantation was a pleasant surprise in the morning, being a tricky species to pick up on spring passage. Two Hobbies spent some time hawking over the plantation, where a flock of four Grey Herons and 300 Herring Gulls flew over. A 2cy Red Kite hung low over Coneyboro Hill and it, or another, was seen over the farm. Two Lesser Whitethroats were singing around Harholt and Hillwood Field, while two Garden Warblers were also singing (between the Holly Lane car park and Outwood Lane, and near the BW housing estate). Two House Martins, a Swallow and three Swifts flew over the farm, while three Pied Wagtails were seen at Legal & General and a Mistle Thrush was near Perrotts Farmhouse. Five more Swallows flew over Harholt and a Tawny Owl was there.

As for butterflies, BW counts included 10 Dingy Skippers, two Grizzled Skippers, 10 Brimstones, two Orange-tips, two Peacocks, five Small Heaths, four Common Blues, a Holly Blue, a Small Copper and five Green Hairstreaks. CF had three Peacocks, eight Small Whites and a Brimstone.
Spotted Flycatcher at Harholt
Hobby over Harholt
2cy Red Kite over Coneyboro Hill
Grey Herons over Harholt
Blackcaps at Harholt
Swift over Canons
adult Buzzard

Geoff Barter, David Campbell (photos), Duncan Jennings, Ian Pratley, Mark Stanley, Nic Tidmarsh and Woodchips

15th May 2017

The way this spring has panned out hitherto, it wouldn't really have been at all surprising if our first House Martins of the year were autumn migrants but thankfully such a situation was averted by a movement of 14 individuals south into the wind this afternoon, along with 12 Swifts. A Hobby also cruised over the farm, where a Cormorant, two Mallards and a Collared Dove flew over. Two Canada Geese flew over the BW sector.

Late addition: Two Red-legged Partridges were still at the farm.

David Campbell (photo) and Ian Magness

14th May 2017

Three Red Kites flew over the farm while warblers in the BW sector included two Lesser Whitethroats, a notable four Garden Warblers and the Willow Warbler.

Ian Pratley

13th May 2017

A Red-legged Partridge was still in Game Field and three Swifts flew over the farm.

In the BW sector, Lesser Whitethroats were singing around Hillwood Field and at the Harholt Plantation while Garden Warblers were in voice by the caravan site, in Stagbury Field and at Harholt, where the Willow Warbler was still singing. Four Whitethroats were also counted and a Swallow flew north.

Butterflies at BW included a Holly Blue, two Orange-tips, a Small White and three Brimstones.

Willow Warbler at the Harholt Plantation
Ian Ward

12th May 2017

A female Whinchat was found on the north side of Horse Pasture, a welcome arrival as we were starting to worry that it was shaping up to be a blank spring for the species. The year list is thus raised to 85 species.

A few locally scarce warblers were in voice in the BW sector. A male Lesser Whitethroat was singing between Hillwood Field and Hither Field while three Garden Warblers were singing in the BW sector: by the caravan site, the south-east end of the Harholt Plantation and at the south end of Stagbury Field. The Willow Warbler was still proclaiming territory at Harholt.

Andy Downing and Ian Pratley

11th May 2017

There was still little going on at the farm but a Garden Warbler showed quite well around the south end of Green Belt Field, one or two of the Red-legged Partridges was showing in Broadfield, five Swallows flew through and two Canada Geese were knocking about. Three Swifts, a Cormorant and a group of four Lesser Black-backed Gulls also flew over, 13 singing Whitethroats were counted at the farm and a Little Owl was seen at Legal & General.

Two Hobbies were seen at Banstead Woods.

Other wildlife in BW included Orange-tip, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Peacock and a Common Lizard.

Garden Warbler around the south end of Green Belt Field
Blackbird by Reads Rest Cottages
adult ♂ Rose-ringed Parakeet

David Campbell (photos), Paul Goodman, Duncan Jennings and Woodchips

10th May 2017

The BW sector had two Lesser Whitethroats, two Swallows and four Whitethroats.

Butterflies in BW also had the first two Common Blues of the year, along with nine Green Hairstreaks, 14 Dingy Skippers, 12 Brimstones, three Green-veined Whites, three Small Coppers, five Small Heaths and singles of Holly Blue, Small White, CommaRed Admiral, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

Duncan Jennings and Woodchips

9th May 2017

There was little on offer bird-wise in the BW sector but a Slow-worm was seen.

Duncan Jennings and Woodchips

7th May 2017

The Banstead Arts Festival walk produced two Red-legged Partridges in Broadfield, a Little Owl on the east side of Horse Pasture, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Swifts overhead, eight Swallows and nine Whitethroats at the farm. Two Canada Geese flew northwest. In the BW sector, a Mistle Thrush was seen at Fames Rough.

BW butterflies included the first Small Copper of the year at Fames Rough, along with eight Dingy Skippers, four Brimstones, a Green-veined White, an Orange-tip, three Small Heaths, three Holly Blues, and three Green Hairstreaks.

Small Copper

David Campbell (photo 1), Paul Goodman, Ian Ward (photos 2-3) et al

6th May 2017

The Lesser Whitethroat was still singing in Stagbury Field and a Garden Warbler was in voice in BW behind the caravan site. Singles of Red Kite and Hobby were seen overhead and a pair of Mallards were on Piddly Pond. Six Swallows flew north and three Whitethroats were in the BW sector too. Some drama unfolded when a Tawny Owl caught a fledgling Blackbird at the BW housing estate.

Butterflies included a Green Hairstreak at Coneyboro Hill, seven Dingy Skippers, two Small Heaths, a Speckled Wood, six Peacocks, a Red Admiral, two Orange-tips and 14 Brimstones, all in BW.

Fly Orchid at BW
Red Admiral, BW

Ian Magness (photo 1) and Ian Ward (photo 2)

5th May 2017

A Lesser Whitethroat singing in Stagbury Field was the first for the BW sector this year. 23 Swifts flew through the farm. A Little Owl was showing on the east side of Horse Pasture.

Two Small Tortoiseshells, a Red Admiral and two Brimstones were also in CF. BW had a Grizzled Skipper, four Brimstones and a Small White, as well as flowering Fly Orchids.


David Campbell, Ian Magness (photo) and Natasha Preston

4th May 2017

Three Swifts over BW were the first of the year and two Swallows flew over.

Duncan Jennings and Woodchips

3rd May 2017

A Garden Warbler was noted in the BW sector, as were two Whitethroats.

The sector also had six Dingy Skippers, three Grizzled Skippers, six Green Hairstreaks, three Small Heaths, a Holly Blue, a Speckled Wood, four Peacocks, 11 Brimstones, a Green-veined White, four Small Whites, two Orange-tips and a Red Admiral.

Duncan Jennings

2nd May 2017

A Garden Warbler was noted in the BW sector and the only sighting of any note at the farm was a Swallow.

It was again a better day for butterflies; BW had six Dingy Skippers, three Grizzled Skippers, six Green Hairstreaks, the first Small Heath of the year, a Holly Blue, a Speckled Wood, a Red Admiral, two Orange-tips, 11 Brimstones, four Small Whites and a Green-veined White.

David Campbell and Duncan Jennings

1st May 2017

Bird of the day was a female Ring Ouzel; initially found at Canons Farmhouse, it then flew towards Legal & General where it alighted next to the car park but was not seen again (SG). The first Hobby of the year for the CF sector was also noted, along with a Wheatear in Broadfield, a late Meadow Pipit and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Nine Whitethroats and eight Swallows were counted.

♂ Whitethroat
Andy Downing and Steve Gale (photo)