Most of my birding is currently restricted to my home County of Surrey (UK) with occasional visits to my favorite locations in Kent, Hampshire, East and West Sussex plus the North Norfolk Coast.
I am not a worldwide traveller but I have visited a few locations in and around Europe including France, Bulgaria, Mallorca, Lesvos and Morocco. Trips further afield have been restricted to a family holiday to Florida in 1995 and a birding tour to the USA in September 2003 which covered visits to Brigantine, Cape May and then High Island on the Upper Texas Coast where I witnessed some amazing raptor migration.
My local birding and recording area falls within a 5 x 5 km square (mainly to the south of home) and incorporates most of Epsom and Ashtead Commons plus Horton Country Park.
1. Epsom Common LNR. Designated a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' (SSSI) due to the range of rare insects associated with dead wood and its importance as a breeding bird habitat.
Within the 436 acres the range of distinctive habitats comprises mature ancient Oak woodland, developing Birch and Oak woods, Hawthorn scrub, grazed open acid grassland with Heather plus a variety of ponds and pools including the 'Stew Pond' (fishing permitted) and the 'Great Pond' originally constructed as a fish pond in the 19th century by the Abbey of Chertsey now conserved as a wildlife refuge for frogs, newts and wildfowl.
Click here for a map and a tour.
2. Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve, covering an area of 500 acres is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, comprises a mosaic of woodland, including over 2,300 veteran Oak pollards, grassland, heathland plus some wetland habitats in the form of a few small ponds and streams.
For more information plus link to maps etc.
Since May 2015 I have been recording butterflies along a 1770 metre transect through the northern part of the wooded common. More detail and statistics can be found on the dedicated page on this blog.
3. Horton Country Park LNR covers an area of 400 acres comprises a mixture of habitats; mixed woodland, grass meadows, farmland, paddocks plus an Equestrian Centre and a Golf Course.
Click here for a map and a tour.
Other sites within the County of Surrey:
Richmond Park is London's largest 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' (SSSI), a National Nature Reserve and a Special Area of Conservation with an exceptionally diverse list of flora and fauna. Incorporating the most important area of Lowland Acid Grassland (a priority habitat) in the Greater London region it is home to the well known herds of Red and Fallow Deer plus over 60 breeding species of birds including all three Woodpeckers, Kestrel, Owls, Skylark, Reed Bunting, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit plus a range of waterfowl.
Click here for more detailed information.
Thursley Common NNR.
Covering an area of 325 hectares it is one of the largest remaining fragments of Surrey heath and includes areas of lowland heath, acidic bog and woodland which supports a varied assortment of wildlife. Over 20 species of dragonflies and damselflies live around the ponds and ditches of the reserve. The areas of open water also support the bog raft spider. Damp areas support sphagnum lawns, carnivorous plants such as Sundew, Bog Asphodel and Marsh Orchid.
It is the only regular breeding site in Surrey for Curlew and an excellent location to see a varied selection of warblers, Common Redstart, Tree and Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Skylark, Nightjar, Woodcock, Hobby, Common Buzzard and in winter the Great Grey Shrike.
Click here for a map.
An 80 hectare Local Nature Reserve managed by Guildford Borough Council and consist of four main habitats; mature woodland, meadows, wetland marsh (partly accessible by a boardwalk) and a man made lake.
Its main boundaries are the A3 to the south-east and the River Wey Navigation to the north-west where you can follow the towpath between Stoke and Bowyers Lock or further afield if you so desire.
Click here for more information and map.
A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its important role in the conservation of plants, breeding birds and invertebrates. The varied landscape comprises a mixture of woodland, including many ancient oaks, wet low lying grassland meadows, scrub and twelve ponds. The five largest ponds were man made in the 17th century for fish production.
This is one of my favorite locations for watching a wide range of Butterflies.
WWT London Wetland Centre:
A former Barn Elms water treatment works on the outskirts of London that has been converted into a mixture of habitats that is now a haven for a diverse range of wildlife from wild flowers, birds, bats, butterflies and Odonata. A good place to see Bitterns during the winter months.
In addition to the wildlife habitats you can also explore the 'World Wetlands' .. an excellent way to get up close to ducks, geese and swans from around the globe plus the resident Asian Otters.
A great location for wildlife photography.
Click here for more information.