Monday, 1 June 2009

Sunday 31/5 Part 2: Thursley Common

Firstly I want to publicly thank the midlands birder for proof reading my previous post and spotting that I had posted an image of a Kestrel but captioned it as a Hobby. (My mistake due to posting late at night after a long day!)
After completing the morning bird walk at RHS Gardens, Wisley, Keith of holdingmoments who was my birding guest for the day told me his desire to improve his year list (4 short of the magic 100) so I decided on an afternoon visit to Thursley Common NNR. It is one of the largest remaining fragments of Surrey heath and includes areas of lowland heath, mire and woodland. The totally different landscape would I hope provide the chance to find appropriate heathland species and the possibility of seeing some dragonflies.

On the Moat Pond there were 2 Great Crested Grebes, Mallard and a Coot. Keith's sharp hearing picked out Goldcrests calling high in the conifers as we walked out onto the heathland. We searched the pools either side of the boardwalk and watched a few different damselflies, including a pair mating plus female Broad-bodied libellulas dashing back and forth. With the very strong breeze I found it difficult to take any photos as these insects swayed about even when they perched briefly.

I did eventually get this image of a Four-spotted libellula.
There was absolutely no bird sound but within moments we had good sightings of Swifts and then Hobby, with two indivduals hawking for insects, allowing us both a chance of capturing them in flight. [Click to enlarge for slightly more detail]. While resting our feet and enjoying the peace and quiet I also noticed a few Southern Marsh Orchids. On the other side of Pine Island we picked up the gentle 'hey-diddle-diddle' song of a Redstart and eventually located a male, sporting his white forehead, black throat with orange underparts and the distinctive red tail, flitting about in one of the partly burnt out conifers. [You can view my January post for images of the vegetation rejuvenation following the fire in July 2006]. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers flew by as we located a Woodlark singing from its song post. This image was digi-scoped as I did not want to get too close. Our next new sighting was a brief view of a Tree Pipit doing its usual song flight and then disappearing before another Woodlark was located. As we approached the 'mound' I located a Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) but this male was exceptionally dark, with a prominent large white wing-bar, deep white neck collar which nearly met at the rear plus only a small light orange upper breast patch above very pale underparts plus a white rump. This individual continually moved away from us but Keith managed to get a shot with his bigger lens. A very pale female appeared very briefly and joined the male. [Could this dark colouration on the male suggests that this was possibly one of the 'maura' (Siberian) sub-species?]. On our return walk we heard the bubbling call of Curlew and one flew into the area close to the boardwalk at Pine Island and a second individual was also seen. (Thursley Common is the only breeding site for Curlew in Surrey).
Please pop over to Keith's post "Thursley Common" to see photos of Stonechat, Curlew etc.

So after a full days birding we both returned home. I had added two to my year list and Keith finally reached the magical 100 plus one.


  1. Superb day out Frank - its a site I aim to visit one day for both the birds and the dragonflies.

  2. Cheers Matt. I'll be happy to show you around anytime.

  3. Another good trip Frank and you can always seek out a varied selection of birds. Thanks.

  4. Such a nice outing with wonderful photos and information! Wish I could go birding w/ you & Keith!!

  5. Nice flight shots Frank.
    That's a skill I'd like to tackle some day...

  6. Roy. Thanks. Always try to please.

    Shelly. You would always be welcome & you never know your wish could come true! Lol FAB

  7. Nice series again. Such interesting information with each of your posts.

  8. Frank, I had a brilliant day; thank you.
    Your digi-scoped Woodlark came out really well.
    Was good to see the Hobbies in the air, and you got great captures.
    An excellent day.

  9. Lynne. I'm definitely no expert. Camera in "sports" mode, point, track & press lots of times.

    Mona. Thanks again.

    Keith. You are always welcome. Good company & good birding what more could we ask for. Cheers FAB

  10. Sounds like you both had a great day. Great images, thanks for the look.

  11.! What a great day of birding. I'm with Shelley...I'd like to go birding with you and Keith also. I would learn so much, and you know all the spots where the birds hang out too!

  12. Fantastic Images again Frank, lovely close shot of the Dragonfly.
    Like it lots,also great to see another Digi scoper at play.
    Well done.

  13. nice to see you. Great picture.
    I am very enjoy your blog.
    Thank you. Now I follow your blog.
    good job.


  14. It's Time to Live. Yes, it was a good day & thanks for dropping by.

    JRandSue. Cheers John.

    Ramadhani. Welcome & thanks for joining the "Early Birders".

  15. Hi Kelly.
    I was slightly lucky. Like you, knowing a location helps but the birds & other insects did perform for me so everyone was happy.
    As I told Shelly, you just have to keep wishing...and you never know.. wishes can come true!


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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