Monday, 18 April 2016

Boardwalk Wildlife.


During the past few weeks I have enjoyed several visits to Thursley Common under both sunny and cloudy skies. So here are a few images taken while I have been  treading the boardwalks and tracks in search of the local wildlife. 

More often than not the first bird I usually encounter is a male Stonechat singing from atop a young Birch.

The main boardwalk allows access across the wettest part of the site towards 'Pine Island' where there is often something sitting atop the tallest branches ... on this visit it was a Kestrel. In a few weeks time photographers will line the boardwalk hoping to get that special shot of a Hobby hawking prey over the main pool.

The shorter section of boardwalk below leads towards 'Shrike Hill' and it is here that I look for a dark, long-tailed warbler with a red eye ....




while also listening out for its very distinctive scratchy, mechanical song.



Occasionally I get a brief glimpse of a Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata) one of the special residents of this lowland heathland habitat. This species is dependent on mature dry heath with gorse in good condition in order to survive cold, harsh winters. The UK population crashed to a few pairs in the 1960's but it has fortunately bounced back although several fires on the common and very wet, cold winters in recent years have not helped but it is very pleasing now to see decent numbers in various locations around this site.
 
Certainly not a bird that is easy to get close to without an extremely long lens, hence this cropped shot!

Despite the chilly weather there were one or two hardy Common Lizard sunbathing on the boardwalk and well camouflaged amongst the dried grasses nearby a female Mallard was resting.



Heading out onto the tracks across the open heath provided views of Woodlark, more Stonechats and a brief encounter with one of the two Great Grey Shrikes that have been overwintering here. Their tendency to roam widely for food means they can turn up anywhere on the common although the aptly named 'Shrike Hill' is generally the best place to find them.


A detour to a patch of deciduous woodland rewards me with sightings of a recently arrived male Common Redstart (above) plus views of Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and hear my first Cuckoo of the year before I trudge up onto the gorse covered ridge, accompanied by the twittering of Linnets, for uninterrupted distant views over the extensive heathland before descending back via the sandy tracks to the boardwalk.

Linking to:
Nature Notes
Wild Bird Wednesday

18 comments:

  1. Gosh the shrike! Wonderful bird. Stonechats seem to be everywhere at the moment. Not for me though, everyone else's blogs are full of them.

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  2. Fantastic shot. Ewww, snakes. Love those blue skies too. Carol

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  3. So many interesting birds you found especialy the Shrike. WOW!

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  4. You got a cracking selection of birds there Frank...[;o)

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  5. Goodness what a lot of wonderful shares in this post...cannot choose a favorite, they are all delightful...what a great walk you had.

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  6. Hello, looks like a great place for a walk and to do some birding. The Stonechat and Shrike are a couple of my favorites. Great post and photos. Enjoy your day!

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  7. WHat a great and beautiful photo series!

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  8. Hello Frank
    very nice area to observe and take pictures, beautiful pictures series you show here, something I just happened to like
    greetings Frank

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  9. Interesting photos of the boardwalk.

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  10. Great scenery and beautiful birds. I can think of a number of places around here that would definitely be better with a well-kept boardwalk but I think we would need a much greater local population to be able to afford things like that. Then again - I do like the lack of people in my favorite local places.

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  11. Exceptional beauty you've captured!! The collages and the boardwalk in the first picture...phenomenal. LOVED all the beautiful birds AND reading your commentary.

    Again, I'm in my personal blog admin, Hootin' Anni's, but I wanted to stop by and visit to view your bird shares...thanks for linking in this week at I'd Rather B Birdin'. Your participating is always so appreciated.

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  12. Hello Frank...what wonderful habitat for wildlife you can visit...Lovely photos....Michelle

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  13. Some great photo's you've shared here ... thank you.
    I love the look of that boardwalk.

    All the best Jan

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  14. Beautiful place! Loved the wildlife present there, and birds...wonderful photos! And it was nice hearing the bird call as well.

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  15. That really looks like a great place to spend a lot of time. Wonderful images! Love the shrike.

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  16. Looks like a great place to walk. I love the lizard.

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

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