Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Wonders of Witley Common.

A foggy start to the day as I headed south-west to carry out some much needed garden maintenance for my parents ..... hedge trimming!
Knowing that I had time to spare before my expected ETA I paid a visit to the sandy heathland at Witley Common where a Jackdaw was patiently surveying the scene as the sun slowly began to break through and burn off the fog and eventually lift the temperature to simulate a summers day!
The common comprises a mixture of dry heath with Common and Bell Heather plus Gorse; wet heathland where you find Cross-leaved heath and ponds that often dry outin the summer; grassland and rich woodland consisting of Scot's Pine, Silver Birch, English and Turkey Oak, Willow, Sweet Chestnut plus Hazel, Elder and Aspen. A rich habitat that promises much in the right conditions. Check out this link or more information on Lowland Heath.

During my 90 minute stroll across part of the open dry heathland and surrounding woodland edge I logged the following species; Jay, Carrion Crow, Cuckoo, Linnet, TREE PIPIT, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Common Redstart, Blackbird, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Woodpigeon, Nuthatch,  BRAMBLING, Stonechat, Common Whitethroat, Swallow, Pheasant, Kestrel and Yellowhammer. Most of my sightings were fairly distant so the following image have all been cropped.

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
Obviously not the clear shot I would have preferred but sometimes you have to accept what is on offer. I watched this individual perform its distant display flight and parachute down to another lofty tree top perch unlike its close cousin the Meadow Pipit that generally lands on the floor at the end of its flight. 

Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
I am usually alerted to this chat's location by its repetative throaty clicking call and today was no exception. As soon as I lined up the distant shot it moved to another favourite perch ... ah well, patience I say to myself, it will probably come back in a few moments ... and it did.  

 Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
For once there were far more Willow Warblers around the heathland singing their descending verse than the Chiffchaffs on my local patch.

Three for the price of one ... Tree Pipit, Yellowhammer and Chaffinch.

Plenty of Brimstone on the wing in such lovely sunny weather.

So that was the easy part of my day, the following three hours wielding a hedge trimmer has left its mark on my arm muscles but tomorrow morning will hopefully be another relaxing few hours as I reconnoitre the landscape at Hatchlands Park in preparation for a 'Dawn Chorus' walk in two weeks time.   FAB.

For more WORLD BIRD WEDNESDAY images, please follow this link. 


  1. How very lovely. What wonderful walks you have. I enjoy seeing the little one with nest building materials. We have been watching the same here.

  2. the property does look rather dry there. i'm so used to seeing lushness in the UK. i like the 3-for-1 shot! amazing! and the stonechats are beautiful!

  3. Love the new header! Great variety of spring birds... Especially love the threesome in the tree- how convenient!

  4. love all your birds Frank! I especially like foggy mornings. Hope your arm doesn't hurt too much tomorrow..

  5. Such terrific spring shots! We're supposed to get more snow tonight here.

  6. Hi Frank
    Well done on the Tree Pipit and the threesome is indeed a unique shot. You certainly have some varied habitat around your location.

  7. Fantastic images Frank and a great list of birds seen. I'm eagerly awaiting my first Cuckoo and Redstart of the year.

  8. Hiya Frank,

    So evocative of past holidays..
    Those sandy heathland paths are precious in my memories.
    And what a lot of songbirds you met on your walk.

  9. Wonderful series! Sounds and looks like you had a very pleasant adventure at Witley Common. Fantastic Stonechat and Willow Warbler images. Wow, to see (and capture) 3 birds in one tree together ... quite a delight. Terrific post, as always!

  10. Great post and photo series! Beautiful and interesting birds you have there.

  11. I love your new header banner, just gorgeous. Your walk looks like it was quite nice and the birds are lovely as well~

  12. The three for the price of one picture is just incredible Frank! And I loved the stonechat pictures too. I hope I will get it like this this year in France!

  13. The Stonechat is a beaty Frank. My local heathland is alongside Oulton Park Race Circuit but I have yet to see the numbet of species you are getting. A lovely read many thanks.

  14. Beautiful little birds. I think my absolute favorite is the Stonechat on the pine cones, great composition and a lovely bird.

  15. Thumbs up on the header Frank, I love that astounding shot. It's a wise man who works a little pleasure into the drudgery. Having a sharp eye and steady hands is as important in hedge trimming as it is in nature photography isn't it!

  16. I love this post, and my favourite is the first photo - terrific!

  17. It sounds like a very interesting and diverse habitat and certainly showed you a great lot of birds. Great photos.

  18. Thanks Lois. Yes, it is an interesting time of year for the nesters.

    Hi texwisgirl. Just one of the many varied habitats not too far from home. BTW we'll need some rain soon to keep the greenery lush!

    Thanks Jen. Yes, plenty to keep us occupied at the moment.

    Hi Ginny. The aches and pains are slowly subsiding .. lol.

    Hi Mona. Not MORE snow! I'll try to keep you smiling with Spring in the UK.

    Hi Monty. Yeah, we are very fortunate in Surrey. The only drawback is NO coastline!!

    Cheers Adam Surely it can't be long before they turn up on your doorstep.

    Hiya jocodeane. Delighted to bring back some lovely memories for you.

    Hi Julie G. Thank you. Actually I only took the 3 in 1 shot as I initially thought the Chaffinch was something else!

  19. MaineBirder. Thanks John. Something a little different than the Eastern USA.

    Thank you Mary. It was time for a change of colour. Summer temps in Spring ... what is going on!

    Hi Chris. Just a lucky moment that they all decided to perch together. Just need a nice close up of the Stonechat but that might take some planning.

    Hi Andrew. I was surprised when I eventually looked at the tally for such a brief walk around.
    Can't wait for the flutters and dragonflies to appear.

    Thanks Ryan. The Stonechat certainly likes to pose on an open stance but are very wary of any close approach.

    Cheers Bob.

    Cheers Springman. Appreciate the header compliment Dave. You have to take advantage of any birding opportunities when they occur. 'Sharp eye and steady hands' ... if only I could keep the lens completely still more often!

    Thanks joo.

    Hi Mick. Very diverse and you never know what might just turn up.

  20. What a wonderful variety of birds you encountered on your walk!

  21. Aren't you glad you were a good son to go and trim those hedges? You had your reward even before starting. 90 minutes in such a glorious place with just you and nature is sheer bliss to my way of thinking.

    Wonderful to see what is stirring in you spring.

  22. Sounds like a great place to visit and spend a lot of time in. Pipits are always fun. Great post.

  23. Hi Arija. You have to take the bonuses whenever they are available. A mid pm visit would have been too hot for me and the birds ... seems strange saying that in the Spring.

    Hi Bill S. One day it appears empty and on another .. well you saw the results. Just lucky timing.

  24. Grand hike Frank, and good sightings. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  25. What an outing you had!!! That little warbler is singing her/his heart out so cute..and the 3 FOR..great stuff--

  26. Cheers Gary. Just gave the legs a short workout!

    Hi Sondra. Yeah, just one of many all doing the same thing.

  27. Fantastic captures! Such pretty birds--I especially like the willow warbler shot!

  28. EmptyNester. Thanks Pam. At long last a WW in the open!

  29. All are beautiful but I especially like the foggy shot on top.

  30. Cheers JM. Might see if I can find a few more like that.

  31. Great post Frank. It sounds like you had a wonderful walk on the way to "work". I appreciate you throwing in the beautiful photos of the surrounding area too, so we get to see the habitat.

    Your narrative tells the tale of someone who knows his birds well. Knowing bird behavior is key to finding them and photographing them. Knowing that the Stonechat will come back to the same perch, and the habits of the Tree Pipit as opposed to the Meadow Pipit. To me, these are the things that make birding fun!

  32. Hi Larry. Thanks for the compliments. You know as well as me that that any wildlife watcher needs to understand the different habitats in order to appreciate what any particular site might hold.
    We now only have 20% of Europe's lowland heath so this is very important habitat for the species I mentioned. Even if they are difficult to get close to it is always fun enjoying their alloted spaces.

  33. That butterfly has some interesting camouflage. It looks like a leaf!

  34. Hi Mike B. That's the coat it carries to help it hide from predators.


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