Winter birdwatching at Little Heath Meadow
I went to Little Heath Meadow in Chobham on a beautiful frosty January morning to carry out a visitor survey. It’s a very well hidden greenspace, tucked away behind a housing development so you’d never know it was there unless you’re local or have visited our website! I’m quite familiar with it as I used to help maintain it when I worked for Surrey Wildlife Trust. Back then, I’d see Red Kites on every visit and today was no different for as soon as I stepped foot onto the meadow I heard the distinctive “weoo-weoo-weoo” overhead. I watched as a Kite perched on a branch of one of the tall conifers that borders the adjacent historic Pet Cemetery, which is quite peculiar and open to the public. Another familiar sound that always surprises me is the scream and “hee-haw” of the neighbouring donkeys which always make for an eventful visit!
Over the years I’ve had some truly memorable wildlife moments here. One of my favourites being making crunchy footsteps in the freshly fallen snow and finding dozens of delightful deer and rabbit tracks decorating the meadows. Another was watching over the spring as frogspawn in the numerous ditches that cross the meadows developed into tiny tadpoles, almost drying out from the hot weather several times.
Surrey Wildlife Trust have made some changes since I last visited and I can’t wait to see how it looks in spring now the pond has been cleared. The SWT Warden Matthew spotted dragonflies darting above the pond within days of that work being done!
With the upcoming RSPB ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ I thought I’d brush up on my birdsong and used time in between surveying people to keep an ear out for what’s about with the help of the Merlin Bird App. I heard the typical Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit (my favourite), Robin and a Chaffinch but was also lucky enough to hear Siskin, Raven, Nuthatch and even spotted a Grey Heron as I was leaving. This brought my total up to ten species in an hour of looking and listening.
If you haven’t taken part in the RSPB’s ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ before, you can take part during any 1 hour time slot during 26-28th February. It’s the world’s largest garden wildlife survey and it really helps to build a picture of how garden birds are faring across the UK. Find out more here: Big Garden Birdwatch (rspb.org.uk)
Although relatively small, Little Heath Meadow is a hidden treasure and I love the little bridges that connect the meadows over the ditches, there must be at least six! If you like a slow walk with woodland, springy meadows and a good chance of not seeing any other walkers then this is a great place to discover. Do bring your wellies though if it’s been raining!
If you’d like to visit, you can find out more by reading our Little Heath Meadow page.
Senior Warden Zoe