Monday, 4 May 2015

Some Spring Migrants on Thursley Common.

Just over a week ago, taking a well earned break from the decorating,  I paid another early morning visit to Thursley Common to see what other Spring migrants might have turned up on this special lowland heath habitat with its acidic bog and woodland.

Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
Looking across the open landscape the first bird of the day was a resident male Stonechat perched high on the remnants of an old tree. I also listened and scanned for any sign of any of the four Curlew that had recently been reported (at least one pair turn up most years in early spring) but didn't find one. Maybe I'd be lucky on my return route.
As I walked through Pine Island I heard and the caught sight of several twittering Goldfinch with a Chiffchaff singing nearby.

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

As I headed up over Shrike Hill a Woodlark flew overhead and a singing Skylark ascended high into the blue sky. 

Descending the southern slope I heard the distinctive song of a Tree Pipit but initially couldn't find it until I spotted a likely candidate fly up from the heather and land in one of the lonesome conifers. A cropped record shot was the best I could achieve before this migrant moved onto another song perch much further away.

Most of the Gorse is now in full flower and some of the larger stands are good spots to find a Dartford Warbler .. I saw one fly but it promptly disappeared into the dense greenery. 

Close to one of the large sandy tracks I thought my ears had deceived me when I heard the croaking call of a Nightingale and on being joined by another birder, who has carried out the BTO bird surveys here for at least the last 20 years, we joyfully listened to not one but two Nightingales singing. I was told that this is the second Spring that a this species has been recorded at this particular spot on the common. 

On the other side of the track a returning Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) whistled softly.

In the nearby wooded area, at a similar spot to my previous visit, a male [Common] Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) made a welcome brief appearance. After their initial arrival from Africa in April they tend to disperse across the common to separate territories within the various wooded areas.

As I walked through the field I heard the repeated call of a Cuckoo and immediately quickened my steps in the hope of locating another migrant visitor that has successfully returned from overwintering in Africa.

Since 2011 we’ve been satellite-tracking Cuckoos to find out why - See more at:
Since 2011 we’ve been satellite-tracking Cuckoos to find out why - See more at:
Since 2011 the BTO has been satellite-tracking this 'Red Status' species to try and find out why half the numbers in the UK have been lost over the past 20 years.

So following the calls I finally caught up with this iconic species but kept a substantial distance away so as not to disturb him as he changed position from time to time.

Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
On my return route with a pair of Common Buzzard wheeling overhead I also added Linnet and Common Whitethroat to my photo list as well as seeing Blackcap, Blackbird, Wren, Crow, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting.

While snapping a reflective shot of one of a dozen or so Canada Geese present on the pools, as I returned to the boardwalk, I heard the distinctive call of a Curlew but was a little slow to react as a single bird flew high overhead only to drop down and disappear amongst the damp grasses. Well at least I was finally able to add it to my 2015 County year list!

And the grand finale. as I trod the boardwalk, was a brief visit by a Hobby (Falco subbuteo), another returning migrant, but only allowing just another distant record image. FAB.


  1. awesome sightings! love the cuckoo's eyes. :)

  2. Well that was worth getting out early to see all the migrants. Wonderful to have found and photographed the Cuckoo and Hobby as well as the Nightinglae.

  3. Wonderful photos and commentary Frank, a definite visit there for me, hope I see or hear some of your birds, Kate

  4. You had a successful walk, and saw quite a variety of Migrants! Nice post, FB.

  5. Wonderful cuckoo, another fairly obvious bird I've never seen

  6. I love to see the migrant birds coming through. Top shots Frank!

  7. What a wonderful collection of birds you captured in your photos!

  8. Some great birds seen there Frank and some great shots. Very jealous of the Cuckoo. Still waiting for my first of the year.

  9. Fabulous to get an image of the cuckoo. I hear one most mornings in the woods close by, but have never been fortunate enough to see him.

    Our garden song thrush fledglings left the nest today. Was weeding when I noticed a pair of eyes, and a beak peeking through the daffs......sweet thing.

  10. Wonderful report on your outing and the scenery and birds are beautiful. Great post.

  11. Beautiful images Frank, and you caugth the Cuckoo, absolutely stunning.

  12. Great birds and the scenic photos of the habitat are especially beautiful.

  13. I like to hear that people keep a nice distance when birding. Some folks really will do anything to get a photo. Of course you got some great photos and respected the birds...Thank you for linking in.. Michellle

  14. What a great day! Loved the photos, especially the cuckoo, and the little falcon!

  15. A superb set of images Frank. Great first scene image.
    Getting a Redstart was really something.
    I have not seen or heard a Cuckoo yet.

  16. I love boardwalks and glad you were careful keeping your distance from the Cuckoo. We have a similar issue here as well with our Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Definitely a treat to see in the wild.....and that call is unmistakable!:)


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


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