As I was driving from Aldbourne to Swindon this morning I noticed that the Downs to the east of the road were of a similar make-up to the area of Barbury Castle that the SEO’s are frequenting. Stubble fields and a west-facing, rough grass slope. So this afternoon I went for a walk there. I parked near to Liddington Warren and took the Byway up onto the Downs. The first part of this was quite challenging to walk on as it has taken a battering from the four-wheel drive crowd. I am a supporter of them using these ancient rights of way but when this is the result can understand why there are calls for them to be banned.
I had only just crossed the road when I saw a small bird fly up onto a fencepost. A female Stonechat which was soon joined on adjacent posts by two more, another female and a male. A great start. Unfortunately these were the best birds seen on the walk. Moving onwards and making the fairly steep climb to the ridge I saw just a single Red Kite and some corvids. The strip of trees at the top held quite a few birds, mainly Blue and Great Tits along with a couple of Chaffinches and a heard only Great Spotted Woodpecker. Also at the top was a good-sized barrow mound, a good place to sit and scan the surrounding area from. I then walked back along the ridge to the Byway and then down to the car. The same or another Red Kite came over, three Red-legged Partridges flew up from the field and a singing Yellowhammer was heard. So despite their being no Owls this is definitely an area that will be worth exploring some more.