Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Day on the Surrey Heaths.

I had planned to go to Thursley Common to hopefully photograph some 'dragons' with Tricia, a fellow wildlife watcher, but the weather changed overnight and when my taxi duly arrived this morning we decided to head initially to Farnham Heath a relatively new RSPB heathland reserve. The sky remained drab and with some minor irritation from a brief shower we spent nearly two hours following various paths and tracks checking out the different habitats. Sightings were desperately thin on the ground but Stonechat and Tree Pipit with youngsters were spotted plus a young Roe Deer buck. A short drive to Frensham with the acrid smell from the very recent and devastating heathland fire still strong in the air we stopped at the Great Pond to eat our packed lunch while watching Common Terns fishing, Great Crested Grebes, Coot, Mallard, Canada Geese plus Black-headed Gulls on the water.
Unperterbed by the overcast sky we spent the afternoon at Thursley Common and the first sightings along the boardwalk were a Black-tailed and a Keeled Skimmer plus a Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens).
A few Canada Geese were hiding amoungst the grasses.
Water levels now extremely low and the cooler temperatures meant that little else was initially flying around although a Grey Heron flew overhead (sky to grey for a photo!) plus a very brief view of a Woodlark with its distinctive short tail flying away from us.
Large Skipper (Ochlodes venata).
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) always kept its wings closed.
A field of Ragwort was being dessimated by these hungry larvae of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae).
Other sightings included Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Stonechats and finally a male Common Redstart gave its presence away as it called then flew around together with at least three youngsters. Not the day we had planned but it was great to be out in the fresh air and in good company.  FAB.


  1. The caterpillars rock and so do the butterflies and moths. Fantastic. Glad you got to get out. Hopefully I can in a day or two. Carol

  2. Seems as though you had a great day despite the fact it wasn't what you anticipated. I finally got out today, too, and it was wonderful. Hot and buggy, but incredible! ~karen

  3. It sounds as if you had a lovely day even if the weather didn't completely cooperate and sightings sparse. The moth larvae are beautiful despite their destructive behavior.

  4. Love the last pic Frank!! :)


  5. For not being a "perfect" weather day, you still managed to capture some beautiful shots along your trek! I especially love the last two photos of the hungry larvae.

  6. You do awsome work with skippers. They are usually to hyper to get shots.

  7. Always good to get out Frank, despite the efforts of the weather.
    Not seen the Keeled Skimmer before, and good to see the Cinnabar caterpillars making short work of the Ragwort.

  8. Wonderful shots. Those Caterpillars were pretty busy, and striking looking. Nice work.

  9. In spite of the weather you have some grat photos!!! I especially think the Ragwort with caterpillars on the stems is quite the interesting shots!!!

  10. Hi Frank...great to see the caterpillars on the ragwort. I have this wildflower in my garden and the cinnabar moth, no caterpillars though...sigh

    I love the image of the goose.....magical.

  11. Looks like it was not a bad day even with the weather not being so great!! I really liked the Ragwort shot with all the caterpillars on the stem ...made for a very interesting photo!!!

  12. A Photographic Journal. Thanks Carol, I hope you can get out soon and enjoy whatever is on offer near you.

    KaHolly. Cheers Karen. Was that hot and buggy OR

    Lois. The weather rarely puts me off unless it's raining cats and dogs! Without the Ragwort we wouldn't have so many Cinnabars.

    Angad. Trust you to plump for the creepy ones!

    Michele J. Thanks and very nice to hear from you, as always.

  13. Steve B. A bit of luck I guess but it was very cool so the Skippers weren't quite as active as me!!

    Keith. The KS is very similar to the Black-tailed so keep those eyes peeled.

    Mona. Yea..colourful little beasties aren't they!

    grammie g. Thanks for your comments, in duplicate..I am honoured.

  14. Hi Cheryl. If I'd have known I could have picked a few up for you as there were hundreds maybe thousands of them. I had to get down to their level just to spot them!

  15. It sounded like a good day out Frank even though you had to change your plans, and you did have some nice sightings. I have never knowingly seen a Woodlark. Lovely photo of the Skipper, I think they are delightful little creatures.

  16. ShySongbird. Jan it is always fun to spend a day in the company of a like-minded friend. I think the Woodlark was a lifer for Tricia..just a pity it wasn't closer for a detailed inspection. Skippers have become one of my favorite flutters and on this occasion the 'P' setting worked just fine.

  17. Great looking Images,once again first class,loved the Keeled Skipper,which looks Fab.


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