Trip reports

Mid Week Walk at Thursley Common

Mid Week Walk at Thursley Common
Bill Patterson

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Weather: Fine and dry but cool with a NW breeze. 15C

The car park at The Moat pond is quite large but we managed to take up all available spaces when a record 25 of us turned up for this walk, including quite a few non-group members. Luckily we had several keen-eyed group members in addition to Steve and myself, so hopefully most managed to see the important birds.

We followed the usual routing, out on the boardwalk to 'Pine Island' then across to 'Shrike Hill' and a clockwise circuit taking in 'Parish Field'. A few small birds were seen but not identified due to the dense leaf cover before we came to the main pools at the boardwalk junction, which held a pair of tufted ducks. At this point a hobby arrived and showed well briefly in a dead tree before moving to another tree somewhat further away where it allowed prolonged viewing by all. If it was hoping to spot dragonflies it was probably unlucky as there didn't appear to be any airborne in the cool conditions. It was also in this area that we heard curlew calling, although it was distant and we didn't manage a sighting. There are two breeding pairs here this year.

Moving on towards Shrike Hill, we heard whitethroats at Pine Island, with some managing a sighting, and a goldfinch was also seen. More unexpected was a pair of teal that were happily dabbling around only some twenty feet from the boardwalk, totally unfazed by the mass of observers. The usual dead pines didn't appear to have any redstarts this year but we did see stonechats and more goldfinches, and a possible woodlark that never gave a good view.

Moving on to a more scrubby area we soon heard blackcap, and a dead tree proved a popular spot, in succession, for garden warbler, willow warbler and wren, all giving good scope views. A cuckoo was also heard distantly before we moved on to Parish Field. Some of the group saw a buzzard here but it was otherwise fairly quiet until we got to the point of return, when a female redstart popped up and gave brief good views on a gorse stem. A pause here also gave us several sightings of the male but all quite brief, so it was a bit of a problem persuading the group that we needed to move on if we were going to get back to the car park on time. In fact two of the group stayed behind for a further THREE HOURS - but did manage to photograph the redstarts eventually.

Heading back through the field itself we saw three green woodpeckers and also came across several young mistle thrushes. The remainder of the walk was then uneventful, except for the usual common lizards on the boardwalk, until we were fairly close to The Moat pond, when two male reed buntings flew past and a tree pipit appeared on one of the power lines. Strangely, given the time of year, I don't recall seeing any swifts or hirundines nor the usual kestrel and, sadly, not a sniff of a Dartford warbler either.

Not the best visit ever to this site due to the cool and breezy conditions keeping the dragonflies on their perches but everyone seemed happy with what they had seen - and that's what matters.

Peter Hambrook
Photo of a redstart by Bill Patterson