16th August 2017

Highlights included a Willow Warbler at Parsons Land, a Pied Wagtail at Legal & General and six Swallows at the farm. Three Kestrels, two Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and three Bullfinches were also seen across the patch.

Ian Pratley

10-15th August 2017

I've been away again so here's another quick roundup of events since our last update. 11th saw a Reed Warbler, our third record and found by PGo, turn up at Canons Farmyard. The same day, a Garden Warbler, a scarce autumn bird for us, was found in Round Meadow with three Willow Warblers. 14 Chiffchaffs were also in the CF sector that day, along with three Blackcaps and two Whitethroats. A nice little fall!

Another Garden Warbler was seen in the Harholt Plantation on 10th, when four Willow Warblers were across the patch, a Meadow Pipit was noted near Perrotts Farmhouse and four House Martins flew over Broadfield. Three Willow Warblers were on the patch on 14th. As well as the odd migrant Swallow, we are pleased to announce a confirmed breeding attempt underway.  A Cormorant was a notable fly-over at BW on 11th. One of the local Little Owls was noted along Slangs on 10th and six Swifts flew over the farm the next day. Two Rooks were in the BW sector on 14th.

The first Brown Hairstreak of the year was logged on the east side of Ruffett Wood on 10th. The same day, the BW sector had two Silver-washed Fritillaries, five Chalkhill Blues and five Brown Argus. In BW again, three Brown Hairstreaks were recorded on 15th, along with four Silver-washed Fritillaries, two Purple Hairstreaks, 10 Brown Argus, seven Chalkhill Blues, two Small Coppers and eight Small Heaths.

Common Darters were seen mating by Canons Farmhouse on 13th and another two were noted in BW on 15th. A Southern Hawker was at the farm on 11th, as was a Migrant Hawker on 10th.

our breeding Swallows!

Geoff Barter, Paul Goodman (photo 2), Ian Magness (photo 1), Ian Pratley, Ian Ward and WoodChips Conservation Volunteers

8th August 2017

In the BW sector, a Willow Warbler, three Whitethroats, a Sparrowhawk family were the most noteworthy avian sightings, along with a flock of 30 Goldfinches in Holly Lane Meadow.

Seven Swifts were seen at the farm, as well as four Swallows, two Whitethroats and a Kestrel.

juvenile Robin
Ian Pratley and Ian Ward (photo)

7th August 2017

Incredibly, a 'cream-crown' Marsh Harrier flew over the farm again today, this time heading WNW before departing to the north and in view between 09:40 and 09:45. It's tempting to speculate that it could be yesterday's individual returning, having lingered in the wider local area overnight. The southern side of the farm was scoured for grounded migrants but a Willow Warbler feeding in the bean crop in Broadfield was the only obvious example. A number of dispersing juvenile Chiffchaffs were in evidence too, with seven counted. Six Whitethroats and a Blackcap were also logged. Overhead, 11 House Martins and 32 Swifts pushed through, along with six Swallows. Three Greenfinches are also worth mentioning.

A Common Blue was in Canons Farmyard. Other butterflies included a Speckled Wood, a Gatekeeper and two Small Whites.

A Large Red Damselfly was noted in the CF sector.

Marsh Harrier, a little lower this time

David Campbell and Natasha Preston

6th August 2017

Our first in three years, and our sixth record in all, a high-flying female/immature Marsh Harrier stole the show over the farm early in the afternoon as it casually circled at great altitude. Grounded migrants were hoped for but were few and far between, although a single Wheatear, our first of the autumn, represented some 'quality'. Swifts pushed into the WSW wind, with 63 seen in total over the patch. 10 House Martins flew over the BW sector.

Resident birds included a Little Owl flying along the edge of Horse Pasture and fledglings of both Buzzard and Sparrowhawk on site.

In the BW sector, a Clouded Yellow was of course the best of the butterflies, while other species seen included five Silver-washed Fritillaries (one of which being a valesina morph), some 50 Chalkhill Blues, three Small Coppers, 14 Brown Argus, six Small Heaths, a Holly Blue, 120 Common Blues, two Commas, five Peacocks, six Speckled Woods, 30 Gatekeepers, 230 Meadow Browns, 15 Brimstones, three Large Whites, eight Small Whites and three Green-veined Whites.

Butterflies at CF included a Holly Blue, three Common Blues, a Comma, three Red Admirals, two Brown Argus, three Speckled Woods, six Small Whites and four Large Whites.

Odonata were represented by six Southern and five Migrant Hawkers in BW, with another of the latter seen by Legal & General.
♀/immature Marsh Harrier high over the farm

valesina morph Silver-washed Fritillary at Fames Rough

David Campbell (photo 1), Paul Goodman, Ian Pratley and Ian Ward (photo 2)

25th July-3rd August 2017

Thanks for bearing with me while I've been away. It's fantastic to have received over 500 records from CFBW during my time in Scotland/Finland. Here's an attempt at a meaningul roundup, please forgive any inadvertent omissions of notable records.

CF birds
The most significant event of the last couple of weeks was the successful breeding of Red-legged Partridge, something which would have been a bookies' favourite were odds to be offered on the next 'new' breeding bird at the patch (although it is possible they bred in the days before the Group). The appearance of Willow Warblers away from breeding territories in mid-summer (or early autumn, depending on how you view things!) is always an exciting indication of the spell of migration to come. The farm received two individuals during the period, with singles on 28th and 30th. Further movement was evident as House Martins began to trickle through, including starting with 11 on 28th then followed by 10 on 30th and three on 3rd. Swifts began their more hurried exodus, with movements of 26 on 25th, 20 on 29th, 19 on 1st and 20 on 3rd. Swallows included a count of 40 on 30th. Notable fly-overs included two Red Kites and a Grey Heron, all on 28th.

BW birds
We don't tend to get many escapees on the patch but a Canary added itself to our very short avian absconders list on 1st. Sightings of 'proper' birds were limited, with a Grey Heron on 30th, plus six Swallows and a Mistle Thrush on 25th about the best on offer.

CF butterflies
A Common Blue on 3rd was noteworthy for the sector. A Holly Blue was noted on 3rd.

BW butterflies
Clouded Yellows, always a fantastic spot locally, were reported on 29th and 1st. Another migrant, a Painted Lady, was seen on 3rd. Purple Hairstreaks appeared on 25th, when five were counted, and four were noted on 1st. Some 12 Silver-washed Fritillaries, including a valesina morph, were logged on 25th. Selected other records include 20 Chalkhill Blues counted on both 25th and 29th, five Small Coppers on 29th and nine Brown Argus on 1st. A Holly Blue was seen on 3rd.

BW odonata
Southern Hawkers continue to patrol the footpaths.  

Brown Argus, BW on 25th
Chalkhill Blues, BW on 25th
valesina Silver-washed Fritillary, BW on 25th
Abia sericea, BW on 29th
Clouded Yellow, BW on 29th
Dwarf Thistle, BW on 29th
Marsh Thistle, BW on 29th
Prickly Sowthistle, BW on 29th
Six-spot Burnet, BW on 29th
Canary, BW on 1st
Clouded Yellow, BW on 1st

Paul Goodman, Duncan Jennings (photos 10-11), Ian Magness (photos 4-9) Ian Pratley, Ian Ward, Stephen Ward (photos 1-3) and Woodchip Conservation Volunteers et al

23rd July 2017

Note there might not be any further updates until 2nd August, please continue to send your records in

Some hirundine movement was demonstrated by sightings of a Sand Martin over Tart's Field, one House Martin and 20 Swallows at CF, along with a Little Owl in Bog Field.

20 Gatekeepers and a Red Admiral were at the farm. Butterflies at the BW included 20 Chalkhill Blue, two Small Coppers, a Peacock, three Small Skippers, two Marbled Whites, 12 Common Blues and 35 Gatekeepers.

A Southern Hawker was at Park Farm.

Small Copper

Paul Goodman and Ian Ward (photo)

22nd July 2017

A few moments of great excitement today when a Curlew flew over the farm (NP). A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew over BW and four Swallows were over Fames Rough.

Ian Pratley and Natasha Preston

Late butterfly news, another site first

Belated reports of a WHITE ADMIRAL around the orchard 'last week'. This is, incredibly, yet another first for us. Here's hoping that it sticks around...

20th July 2017

Notable sightings included two Mistle Thrushes at Fames Rough and five Swifts over the farm.

Ian Pratley

18th July 2017

Swallow at the farm and two Kestrels along Chipstead Downs were the best sightings today. Two Bullfinches were also seen in BW...

 Butterfly news from BW: a Brown Argus, eight Chalkhill Blues, seven Silver-washed Fritillaries, 20 Marbled Whites, five Small/Essex Skippers, six Brimstones, a Green-veined White, a Small White, two Red Admirals, 47 Common Blues, three Small Coppers, four Speckled Woods and 169 Meadow Browns.

Duncan Jennings and Ian Pratley

16th July 2017

Two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls were tempted down to follow a tractor at Perrotts-by-Wood.

After a period of silence, the Lesser Whitethroat between Hither Field and Hillwood Field found its voice again. Three Mistle Thrushes were seen in the Woods.

White-letter Hairstreaks are still on the go, with eight seen in the usual spot today. Other butterfly sightings in the BW sector included 13 Silver-washed Fritillaries, six Common Blues, a Small Heath, an Essex Skipper, a Large Skipper, six Small Skippers, a Peacock, four Red Admirals, 11 Marbled Whites, three Green-veined Whites, five Small Whites, five Large Whites, four Brimstones, 11 Commas, a Ringlet, nine Gatekeepers and good numbers of Meadow Browns.

Remember our upcoming butterfly tour, see here for further details.

In further reptile news (check back to yesterday for an item we forgot to include), a Slow-worm was spotted at the top of Fames Rough, an area which has produced sightings in the past.


Ian Pratley and Ian Ward (photos)

15th July 2017

A singing Yellowhammer in the hedge bordering the southern ends of Hither and Hillwood fields was quite random. Always a good record in the BW sector, this is the first singing bird there we've been aware of since the Group began recording in 2010. Overhead in the BW sector was a Swallow and 13 Swifts.

Chalkhill Blues had emerged, with three males spotted in Stagbury Field. Two Small Coppers, a Silver-washed Fritillary, four Common Blues, two Essex Skippers, eight Small Skippers, 15 Marbled Whites, a Red Admiral, a Large White, two Green-veined Whites, three Ringlets, 11 Gatekeepers and 200 Meadow Browns.

In a rare piece of reptile news, a Common Lizard was a noteworthy sighting in Holly Lane Meadow.

♂ Chalkhill Blue in Stagbury Field
Ian Ward

14th July 2017

Avian higlights at the farm included up to 43 Swallows, a Pied Wagtail and four Swifts. In BW, two further Swallows and 30 Stock Doves were noted.

20 Gatekeepers were counted at the farm.

Paul Goodman and Ian Pratley

Join our Butterfly Tour! 25 species possible on this outing, our overall butterfly list standing at 36. Details:

Butterfly Tour Saturday 29th July; meet at the Holly Lane car park. Starts 10:00, ends by 15:00. Led by Paul Goodman. Possibility of Silver-washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Chalkhill Blue, Purple Hairstreak, Marbled White and more woodland and chalk downland species. Bring lunch if you like!

13th July 2017

Highlights at the farm included three Swallows and two Pied Wagtails. A good set of the usual species was noted at both CF and BW.

Ian Pratley

10th July 2017

The two Swallows were still by Perrotts Farmhouse and other CF bird sightings included two Pied Wagtails at Legal & General, a Buzzard and two Yellowhammers. In BW, usuals included two Whitethroats, a Bullfinch and 13 Stock Doves.

Ian Pratley


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!

8th July 2017

A quiet day but two prospecting Swallows provided some entertainment, 14 Swifts flew over and in excess of 1,000 Woodpigeons in the fields. A family of Kestrels including recently fledged juveniles was around Canons Farmyard. Juvenile Treecreepers were noted by Poultry Field.

Eight White-letter Hairstreaks were in the usual place while five Silver-washed Fritillaries and two Holly Blues were around BW. Also there were two Brimstones, seven Marbled Whites, seven Small Whites, three Large Whites, 19 Commas, six Red Admirals, two Small Tortoiseshells, four Speckled Woods, 70 Meadow Browns, a Gatekeeper and 20 Ringlets.

Butterflies on the wing at the farm included Small Skipper, Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Gatekeeper, Comma, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

Odonada at BW was represented by two Large Red Damselflies, 10 Azure Damselflies and a Southern Hawkers.

juvenile Kestrel
Red Admiral

David Campbell (photos 1-2), Ian Pratley and Ian Ward (photo 3)

7th July 2017

Counts in the BW sector included 12 Chiffchaffs, eight Blackcaps and two Bullfinches.

The main event, the White-letter Hairstreaks just west of the orchard, continue to provide good value. Six were seen today. Good numbers of Silver-washed Fritillaries are sustained, with nine seen today. The first 12 Gatekeepers of the year were seen. Also noted in the BW sector were eight Small/Essex Skippers, a Large Skipper, a Brimstone, 100 Marbled Whites, a Green-veined White, four Small Whites, three Commas, two Red Admirals, four Speckled Woods, 200 Meadow Browns and 60 Ringlets.

Two Southern Hawkers, a Large Red Damselfly and eight Azure Damselflies make up the day's odonata tally.

Paul Goodman

6th July 2017

A Great Black-backed Gull was a noteworthy fly-over at Banstead Woods, especially considering the time of year. A Grey Heron also flew over.

Three White-letter Hairstreaks were showing, while a Silver-washed Fritillary, two Brimstones, two Commas, two Small Whites, two Red Admirals and a Speckled Wood were also logged.

Duncan Jennings

4th July 2017

No unusual bird sightings but a Kestrel was seen in the BW sector, with a Chiffchaff, two Blackcaps and a Whitethroat also seen.

Five White-letter Hairstreaks were showing in the usual place. A Silver-washed Fritillary was logged. Four Small Skippers, a Large Skipper, four Marbled Whites, a Comma, 13 Meadow Browns and eight Ringlets were also noted.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth flew through the White-letter Hairstreak area.

Duncan Jennings and WoodChips Conservation Volunteers

2nd July 2017

No bird news! However, the number of White-letter Hairstreaks showing just west of the orchard rose to six. A male Purple Emperor gave itself up at the Harholt Plantation early afternoon. Some 14 Silver-washed Fritillaries were counted, providing a decent support act. A Holly Blue was noteworthy, with other BW sector butterflies including 10 Small Skippers, two Large Skippers, a Brimstone, three Small Whites, two Large Whites, five Commas, five Red Admirals, two Small Tortoiseshells and three Speckled Woods. Good numbers of Marbled White, Meadow Brown and Ringlet were also on the wing.

A female Emperor was perched on a Horse Chestnut tree by Holly Lane and three Southern Hawkers were in the BW sector. Five Large Red Damselflies and 17 Azure Damselflies were counted at Piddly Pond. A Broad-bodied Chaser was also seen.

♂ Purple Emperor at the Harholt Plantation
Comma at BW
♀ Emperor by Holly Lane
Pyramidal Orchid in Barn Field
Orange Hawkweed in Barn Field

Steve Gale, Ian Magness (photos 5-6) and Ian Ward (photos 1-4)

1st July 2017

A somewhat random and very unseasonable Meadow Pipit was singing along the west side of Broadfield. Several Swifts and Swallows were over the farm, along with four Yellowhammers, four Skylarks, eight Linnets, a Kestrel, three Whitethroats, two Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff. In Banstead Woods, six Treecreepers, eight Goldcrests and two Bullfinches were noted among other usuals.

Four White-letter Hairstreaks were on show in the elms on the south side of the path just west of the orchard. A Red Admiral and a Comma were also seen in BW, while another Comma, a Small Tortoiseshell and 12 Marbled Whites were at CF.

Meadow Pipit by Broadfield

White-letter Hairstreak by the orchard

David Campbell (photos), Paul Goodman et al

30th June 2017

In the BW sector was the Lesser Whitethroat at the Harholt Plantation. Among the usuals was a Buzzard, four Green Woodpeckers, two Goldcrests, three Coal Tits, four Long-tailed Tits, 10 Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, two Nuthatches and a Song Thrush.

Today's biggest news concerned two Hummingbird Hawkmoths at Fames Rough.

Butterflies included an Essex Skippers, 100 Marbled Whites, two Commas, a Red Admiral, two Speckled Woods, 80 Meadow Browns and 30 Ringlets.

A Southern Hawker and four Azure Damselflies were at Piddly Pond. A Vapourer moth was seen, along with Tree Bumblebee and a few Purple Helleborines.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth
Large Skipper
Essex Skipper
Marbled Whites
Creeping Thistle
Round-leaved Fluellen
Paul Goodman and Ian Magness (photos)

29th June 2017

A Red Kite flew over Steep Banks this afternoon and swirling around the farm were 12 Swallows and 30 Swifts. Five Yellowhammers were counted. A Lesser Black-backed Gull flew over and a Bullfinch was around Lunch Wood. Selected other sightings from CF include a Sparrowhawk, 104 Herring Gulls overhead, a Kestrel, six Skylarks, two Chiffchaffs, seven Whitethroats and six Blackcaps.

A Lesser Whitethroat was still singing in the BW sector, where a Whitethroat, four Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps and three Bullfinches were noted, along with a juvenile Song Thrush.

The weather wasn't ideal for butterflies but those recorded included an Essex Skipper, a Large Skipper and six Marbled Whites in BW and a further three Marbled Whites at CF.

It is worth noting that it has come to light that the White-letter Hairstreaks were first seen last year. The area to search for them is immediately west of the orchard by Park Farm.

Red Kite over Steep Banks
Swallow by Green Belt Field

David Campbell (photos) and Duncan Jennings

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: