Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at NT Bookham Commons

Mid-week Walk at NT Bookham Commons
Peter Hambrook

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Weather: Warm and sunny 25C

Not the best attended of walks, but Nigel and I enjoyed a couple of hours strolling around the various areas of this National Trust reserve. While waiting to see if anyone else would turn up we were amused when a harassed driver turned up and asked the way to the Downside Services. We gently pointed out to him that the service area was actually on the M25 about two miles away and advised him how to get there via the A245 and M3. It is amazing where you end up if you don't enter information into your sat nav. Correctly!

A quick scan around the car park revealed a lot of meadow brown butterflies, a purple hairstreak and what we thought at first was the hoped for purple emperor, but instead turned out to be a freshly emerged white admiral. With so much dry weather of late there was no problem with muddy paths, so we took the narrow track that heads due south. This produced a female blackcap and a family of blackbirds, followed by a male blackcap and some small skipper butterflies.

Heading out onto the Western Plain, we came across a few large whites, a few swallows and goldfinches and a greenfinch. Next we made for the string of ponds in a more wooded area, being entertained by a very energetic dog that was in the main pond, where owners are allowed to let their dogs have a splash around. This one seemed to be trying to emulate a dolphin - ensuring that the Canada geese and a moorhen kept their distance. Fortunately the other ponds were not disturbed and held plenty of dragonflies, albeit too distant and moving too fast to be sure of an ID but some appeared to be emperors, along with azure blue damselflies. A grey heron was fishing on one pond, while in front of the hide was a family of herons with a fresh out of the nest youngster, looking not unlike a feathered dinosaur. Two other young herons, probably from the previous year, shared a dead tree with a stock dove. The rides meanwhile were busy with silver-washed fritillaries amidst the meadow browns and a nuthatch was calling noisily.

The return to the cars was via the northern part of the commons, which is good for butterflies, allowing us to add several more purple hairstreaks, a ringlet, a comma, a brimstone, a speckled wood, a peacock and a holly blue to the list. We also disturbed a family of song thrushes that had gathered in the trackside bushes, The final stop was at one of the 'master' trees used by the purple emperor and after a short wait one showed itself high above before landing out of sight amidst the foliage. Just before getting to the cars a female and then a male beautiful demoiselle gave close views.
Peter Hambrook