Trip reports

Mid-week walk around Dick Fock's Common on Thursday 14th November 2019

Mid-week walk around Dick Fock's Common on Thursday 14th November 2019
Goldcrest (David Panchaud)

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Weather: Overcast following very heavy rain
Dick Fock's Common is a new site for our mid-week walks. It is part of a large area of forest to the south of East Horsley that is managed by the Forestry Commission. The area has a very good record for winter finches and goshawks are sometimes reported here.

The forecast for the day had not been promising but fortunately the heavy rain stopped in the early morning leaving ground conditions that required more than sensible shoes for the nine of us that set out. We entered the forest and quite soon turned off the main track along part of the Lovelace Bridges path. We stopped at the first large clearing where we were passed by a group of runners. We were not tempted to join them but stopped to watch the blue, great, long-tailed and coal tits as well as a tree-creeper, a great spotted woodpecker and several goldcrests.

At the bottom of the hill we turned into Honeysuckle Bottom and in the trees and shrubs on the left we saw a bullfinch and then several marsh tits as well as many of the more common tits, robins and a chaffinch. A nuthatch called to attract our attention to ensure we would all see it, then flew over our heads and called again. In the field we saw crows, magpies and woodpigeon. From up the road ahead a roe deer watched our approach before disappearing into the trees. As we neared the junction with Sheepwalk the puddles left by the rain provided the blackbirds with a place to bathe.

We turned left in to Sheepwalk and quite soon met a very bold goldcrest that hovered around some leaves no more than two feet above Anthony's head. As we walked on we added jay, jackdaw, wren and redwing. The main attraction though was the number of marsh tits that we saw. None of us had ever seen so many in one area before. At the top of the rise we stopped to admire two types of fungus that had colonised an old tree stump.

We made our way back to the cars along the wide path which initially overlooks Sheepwalk before turning into the forest. A buzzard flew across our path and that was the only addition to our list although we did spend some time looking over the valley in the hope of spotting something in the trees. Ron, who had gone on ahead with Legh, had a brief glimpse of a large hawk, in the same area.

Thank you to those who came on the walk. We were very lucky with the weather and although we did not see any of the winter finches that we had hoped to see, the many sightings of marsh tits more than made up for that.

Steve Williams