From late April into May I made several visits to Thursley Common NNR to check out both the resident and migrant species that inhabit this very important lowland site with its mix of heathland, acidic bog, pools and woodland.
A resident male Stonechat on sentry duty.
Over the years the population of Dartford Warbler (above) has ebbed and flowed due to the occasional severe winters and the devastating fires that have ruined their breeding habitats from time to time. Currently their numbers seem fairly stable and any opportunity to get a shot of an adult in its glorious breeding plumage is a bonus.
On one early morning visit I was fortunate to come across five Northern Wheatear (above) that had dropped in to refuel on their migratory northward journey from Africa. With the lack of cover I had to be content with a distant shot of just two individuals.
Hearing the distinctive 'cour-lii' calls of a species that I frequently encounter on the south coast I turned my attention skywards to watch one of a pair of Curlew that regularly inhabit this site from April through to August.
Moving further across the common to a stand of mixed woodland I found one of several male [Common] Redstart (below) that had just arrived from Africa and were setting up territories in preparation for the slightly later arrival of the females.
I spent some time in this spot watching the males chase one another and eventually grabbed a shot of one male that came a little closer, perching briefly, before continuing its aerial antics.
Another Summer visitor from Africa is the Tree Pipit (above) typically vocalising from a high open perch.
Other species seen and or heard have included Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Skylark, Woodlark, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Hobby plus several views of single and pairs of Cuckoo.
I often end any visit by returning to the boardwalk overlooking Pudmore Pond in order to catch a glimpse of one of any number of Hobby, (above) another migrant from Africa, hawking for their prey. I hope to share more images of this consummate aerial acrobat in a future post.
Wild Bird Wednesday