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Canons Farm and Banstead Woods together form a fairly large area which comprises of arable farmland (some fields being respectably large) and mixed (mainly ancient deciduous) woodland. It is the biggest area of farmland inside the M25!

Access

From the A217, park at the western end of Canons Lane (near Burgh Heath) at approximately TQ245579. It is preferable to park along Ballard's Green, which is a cul-de-sac off Canons Lane. If visiting the woods, or accessing the farm from the east end, via the woods, there is a purpose built car park at Banstead Woods at approximately TQ273583. There are many public footpaths throughout the area, although it is probably a bit tricky for wheelchair users.

Birding

The site is very underwatched. Over the two or three years it has received light coverage, however, being first pioneered by Steve Gale, and more recently being covered by us. Because of Steve's finds, most importantly the large Brambling flock, several observers have visited the area and have come back for more, occasionally.

The farm has attracted several locally rare birds, which are summarised on the linked page. Fields at the farm are a mixture of ploughed and unharvested crop with some areas of rough grassland. There are plenty of hedgerows and several small patches of woodland and groups of trees.

Finch flocks gather in the winter, with all common species to be found. Yellowhammers are easy to locate. The best place for this species is the field south east of the derelict cottages along Canons Lane. Impressive counts of Chaffinches, Linnets, Skylarks and Bramblings have been encountered. Reed Buntings and Bullfinch can be seen but do require a little more effort at most times.

Raptors seen in the area include Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby and Peregrine, all of which have lingered. Also Goshawk is a significant record. The Big Field, just north east of the derelict cottages is good for Common Buzzards, which can be seen feeding on earthworms along the edge of that film. There are a couple of good viewpoints to observe distant migration of raptors and other large birds.

Golden Plovers and Lapwings can be seen in the fields, if you are lucky. Other waders could be possible as fly overs or as settled birds. Whimbrel and Curlew are possible either flying over or in one of the fields, although they have not been recorded, yet.

Tawny and Little Owls can be found all year. Barn Owl has also been recorded but is a site rarity.

There is hollow in the ground by the eastern-most farmhouse which, from time to time, temporarily fills with water. A permanent small pond is present in Banstead Woods, near the western edge but it is little use, being very small and frequently disturbed by dogs, however, if you visit early in the morning, you may be lucky enough to find a Woodcock at the edge of the ponds before it is flushed.

The Woods is a reliable site for several quality woodland species including Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit and Woodcock. You are bound to flush the latter in autumn or winter if you walk through the leaf litter for long enough. The other two mentioned species are becoming increasingly tricky to locate in the Woods but those who put the effort in will be rewarded eventually. The Woods is a good site for passage passerines, with species like Wood Warbler and Firecrest being recorded amongst others. More examples are found here.

In summary, this underwatched site has lots of potential and could turn up some good rarities in the future.

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