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Canons farm feb 2012 0177

View westwards down Reads Rest Lane, towards Reads Rest Cottages

CFBW is a newly emerging hotspot in the Surrey sector. It manages to record 100+ species annually despite the only permanent water being a tiny stagnant pool in Banstead Woods that has never so much as supported a single Moorhen! See http://cfbwbirds.blogspot.co.uk for more info, sightings, pics etc.

The patch received minimal coverage until the 2000s when Steve Gale pioneered regular watching. However it wasn't until 2010 that David Campbell, Kevin McManus and Roy Weller became the first birders to give CFBW intensive coverage, already unearthing several county scarcities and showing the site to be a regular haunt for many uncommon passage migrants, even after just a couple of years. A small band of birders are now loyal patchers but, as with everywhere, more birders are most welcome as stuff is surely still getting missed.

CANONS FARM is a large, intensive, arable farm located just south of Banstead and east of Burgh Heath. It is owned by an offshore company and farmed on lease by the Roe family, who have been doing so for about 70 years. Canons Lane and Reads Rest Lane form a central vein through the farm and provide immediate access to most of the main public footpaths and the best birding areas. Canons Lane begins at the Burgh Heath end, off the A217, where there is parking available in the off-shooting cul-de-sacs, such as Ballards Green. Beyond Ballards Green, fields border the lane rather than housing and the gate just beyond Canons Farmhouse marks the transition to the private Reads Rest Lane (where no unauthorised vehicular access is permitted). This end part of Canons Lane (circa TQ 247 576) is the most popular for parking with birders. Please respect the privacy and comfort of the residents of Canons Farmhouse by being as discreet as possible in this area.

There is good access from this point around most of the fields; viewing is possible for many of them from the lane or from the public footpaths feeding into it. Please adhere to public rights of way and take special care to avoid damaging any crops. Reads Rest Lane leads to Banstead Woods after c1 mile. Many of the paths off the lane will take you back onto it at another point if you fancy making overall progress towards Banstead Woods without sticking only to the lane. There are two main shooting areas where signage must be observed: Ruffett Wood and Lunch Wood; please make do with viewing the sides of these woodlands that have a public right of way passing them.

  • ALL YEAR: Little Owl (up to 4 pairs), Crossbill, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Common Buzzard, Skylark, Linnet, Tawny Owl, Rook, common woodland birds
  • PASSAGE: Ring Ouzel, Whinchat, Wheatear, Short-eared Owl, Common Redstart, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Yellow Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Curlew, Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Grasshopper Warbler, Tree Pipit (all seem to occur at least annually)
  • WINTER: Barn Owl, Woodcock; often large, occasionally collosal, numbers of finches and farmland birds (e.g. 1,250 Bramblings and 1,600 Chaffinches in 2008)
  • RECENT SCARCITIES: Dotterel, Quail, Goshawk, Hen Harrier, Corn Bunting, Brent Goose, Raven, Pied Flycatcher, Osprey, Black Tern, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Turtle Dove, Firecrest, Wood Warbler, Waxwing, Mealy Redpoll


BANSTEAD WOODS is just east of Canons Farm and can be accessed from there via Reads Rest Lane, however there is a purpose built car park at the east end of Holly Lane (circa TQ 273 582, the north-east end of the woods). This part of the patch is covered less thoroughly than Canons Farm and is decidedly more difficult to 'work'; despite this, good birds can be found and the regular species are perhaps the most interesting. It is very well served with public footpaths.

  • ALL YEAR: Crossbill, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (3 pairs), Tawny Owl, common woodland birds
  • PASSAGE: Occasional tastes of Canons Farm-esque species such as Grasshopper Warbler, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Wheatear around the edges and more open areas; Red Kite, Woodcock
  • SUMMER: Hobby
  • RECENT SCARCITIES: Iceland Gull, Osprey, Firecrest, Turtle Dove
  • LESS RECENT: Golden Oriole (1987), Pied Flycatcher (1977), Hawfinch, Wood Warbler
  • WINTER: Woodcock


DAVID CAMPBELL

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