Tuesday evening and with the light fading rapidly, I took a look out of my office window. Down below there was a bird on the sundial with its back to me – looking a bit like a slim Pigeon. It took me a few seconds to realise that it was anything but a Pigeon. I grabbed the camera and headed down to the kitchen window. Here, I was able to confirm that the bird on the sundial was a bird of prey, a Sparrowhawk male…

…and it was eating a kill. Apologies for the quality of the shot but it was taken through the window and with not much daylight left.

After the Sparrowhawk had finished its meal and departed, I went out into the garden to try and ascertain what species of bird had died but, with only some brown primary wing feathers left, I had to assume that it was possibly a House Sparrow. The next day, although the birds returned to the feeder, they were very skittish and quickly flew away at the least disturbance. Today they seem to have regained their confidence.

Observations over the last two days have allowed me to re-evaluate that ‘Sparrow’ identification. I now think the victim was one of the Robin’s that were maintaining a breeding territory in our garden and the other adjacent properties. I have only seen one Robin since Tuesday and I have to assume that the other is dead.

While this is sad, I must wear my RSPB conservation hat. Birds of Prey have to eat and catching prey often enough to stay healthy is hard. In conservation terms, Sparrowhawks have Amber status, so they are at risk. House Sparrow’s have Red status – so we really can’t afford to be losing any of those (except perhaps to a natural predator like a Sparrowhawk – this does not include the neighbours Cat☹️). Robin’s are Green – they have a healthy and stable population. So, if it was a Robin, and I’m now pretty sure it was, then that was a better option than a Sparrow. You can read all about Bird Conservation Status in the UK on the RSPB site.

The male Sparrowhawk in my garden is quite a mature bird judging by the orange colour of his eyes – apparently they are greenish-yellow in a young bird and turn orange as the bird matures. Sparrowhawks have an average live expectancy of 4 years but can live to 20. Many Robin’s die in their first year but those that survive can live a long time – the oldest recorded was 19 years.

Sounds kind of grand doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it’s not. Having reached State Pension age, I have been given my Freedom Pass. That entitles me to free travel in the London area on almost all forms of public transport. It’s quite surprising how far out that takes me – here’s the map…

Looking at the map gave me an idea for a reason to get out and about for exercise that ties in very well with my trainspotting. I have set my self the target of visiting all the farthest points on the map as well as any terminal stations within the area. Obviously, all the mainline termini in London get visited regularly by me anyway but, discounting those, I have worked out that there are 68 ‘far-points’ or termini of services to be visited (but that list will grow as I check out end points for TfL services).

My card arrived on the 19th of February and my first Freedom Pass trip was on 22/02/2022 when I went out to test it around the London Underground. The first run out for the project was on 28/02 when I took a train from London bridge to Dartford. Here’s the station…

…and here’s a shot of the High Street…

I picked up another terminus when I went to Football at Potters Bar – Cockfosters on the Piccadilly Line. It was horrible weather and I didn’t want to miss my bus, so no shots of the station itself on this occasion but here’s the inside of a Piccadilly line train on my way home…

…I’ll probably revisit to photograph the station properly as it’s on my doorstep compared to some of the other stations😎

On Monday, 07/03, I headed southwest to visit three Stations – one terminus and two far-points. First was Chessington South. It was never intended that this would be a terminus – the line from Motspur Park was supposed to continue through to Leatherhead but in 1939, when war broke out it had only reached Chessington South. The rest of the line was never completed. The stations on the line were designed by James Robb Scott and featured concrete platform awnings. Here’s the booking hall of Chessington South from the street…

…and a view of the station with the disused platform displaying the concrete awning…

Services on the Chessington branch are currently still in the hands of the venerable class 455’s…

After my visit to Chessington South, it was time to retrace my steps to Motspur Park and head for the Ewell’s. Class 455’s supply the motive power on the Dorking line too so I logged another ride in the type. This took me to the station at Ewell West – a more traditional building…

…and here’s a view of the platforms from the road bridge…

…Nice new destination boards – that white lettering looks clearer than the old flickering orange displays.

I planned to walk across town to Ewell East. I use the term ‘planned’ in the loosest sense – I only thought up the idea when I was already on the train out of Waterloo🙄 So I had no idea where I should be going and there weren’t any signs to tell me. I did know which way to go initially because I just had to head east! I soon found myself crossing a body of water…

…This is water from a spring that rises in Ewell and forms the Hogsmill River. Finding myself at a junction and choosing to walk into an area of shops, I was now unsure of the route ahead, so I fired up maps on the mobile. It was a little disconcerting to be looking at New York, but I soon got it to relocate to Ewell and having confirmed my route I continued on my way to Ewell East station. The walk should probably have taken around 25mins but, with the period of uncertainty, took me closer to 35.

Ewell East is served by Southern – so green is the colour for bridges, shelters and signs…

…The trains also come in shades of green. Most of the services through here are formed of Class 377 units like 377605, seen arriving from London with a train to Epsom…

From Ewell East, I caught a service to London Bridge. A pleasant run to complete an enjoyable day out in the sun.

I won’t be doing Freedom Pass Project trips every time I go out but I will do update posts as I progress – lets see where my next outing takes me😀