Thursley NNR – 10/05/2023

A small group met at the Moat Pond as the sun appeared through breaks in the clouds. With thoughts of Hobbies, it seemed a good idea to first follow the new boardwalk out to Pudmore Pond. A Common Whitethroat was seen briefly to the right of the boardwalk and then two Skylarks chasing each other. Two pairs of Canada Geese were nesting on the pond and a pair of Tufted Duck were on the open water. Some saw a Little Grebe, but everyone the two Hobbies that appeared from behind us. Unfortunately, with the cloud closing in they soon vanished from view. A Buzzard though circled and two Linnets perched in a small tree growing in the centre of the pond.

We stayed for several minutes in case the Hobbies returned but to no avail. Leaving the pond and following the boardwalk to the open heath, a male Stonechat showed closely. A Hobby skirted around small silver birch trees low over the wet heath before returning to hunt over open heathland.

At the end of the boardwalk a Tree Pipit was heard singing. Good views were enjoyed as it subsequently parachuted down to the crown of a tree. A Woodlark was then seen perched on the branch of a small silver birch before taking flight.

A particularly obliging male Redstart gave those with cameras a chance to capture the moment. Perched on the top of a small tree just a few yards in front of us, it seemed reluctant to move. It did eventually, a few yards to the right, giving prolonged views once again. A Red Kite was then seen in the sky before two Long-tailed Tits in flight, one carrying a white feather. 

Male Redstart Thursley NNR (Brian Norman)

The kite seen again soon afterwards, appeared to be following a bird in flight. Not a Hobby as first thought by one of the group but a Cuckoo low over the heath. Flying behind some pines it surprisingly appeared perched on the top of a broken tree. Good views were enjoyed through the telescope of a male bird in superb plumage. A Curlew was then spotted sitting on the heath beautifully camouflaged. We had heard one earlier but had not seen it in flight. 

A Dartford Warbler flew past and then settled near the base of a silver birch sapling at the side of the path. It showed sufficiently to see the rich plum feathering of a nice male before dropping down in to the vegetation out of view.

The woodland near the Parish field produced Chiffchaff and both Blue and Great Tits. We heard a Garden Warbler singing nearby but were unable to find it. Failing similarly with one or two Willow Warblers that were singing, we returned to the boardwalk for another look for Hobbies. A male Stonechat on the top of some gorse and a drake Mallard were seen before reaching the pond again. 

It then began to rain and we feared getting pretty wet caught in the open. Luckily, it left off more or less as quickly as it had started. A Hobby then entertained us for a few minutes whilst it flew low around some pines and out over the pond. A female Reed Bunting near the end of the boardwalk brought sightings for the morning to a close.