Trip Report: Thursley (28 May)

Woodlark, by Jerry Norris

A brief check of the lake next to the Moat car park, our start point, provided no more than a few Mallard, but just 3 minutes into our walk we were treated to a family of Dartford Warblers feeding close to the path. Thankfully, the Common has recovered significantly from the effects of the fire two years ago, though there are still a few bare areas. On the first of such we saw the first of several sightings of Woodlark, finding insects in the short dry grass. They seemed oblivious to the 9 pairs of eyes watching them but we moved away to allow them to return to their nests. A little further along the sandy bridleway, a very active pair of Common Redstarts gave us excellent views. So within 15 minutes we had seen half of our “target” species

Stonechats were plentiful and often gave close views. In the distance, the first Hobby of the day quartered low over the marsh and a Buzzard circled high above us. On a roll, Clare asked if we could please find a Tree Pipit and Sandra requested if we could see if Colin was in residence. Colin is a semi-tame Cuckoo who has returned to the same perch in Parish Field for 7 years because photographers provide a plentiful supply of mealworm on a convenient perch. As none of us were exactly sure where Parish Field was, we chose a circuitous route and found a couple of very twitchable Tree Pipits, one of which proved his lineage with a “parachuting “ display. Hobby being the fourth, we had now seen 5 of our “target”. Colin was not on his usual perch on the field, so we dipped on our 6th and final “target”, but we did see a few stunning Speckled Yellow moths.

During a brief stop for sandwiches, first a male Redstart and then a Woodlark foraged for their lunches very close by. Moving away, we only had a brief glimpse of a Red Kite as it drifted overhead but a perching Buzzard was a great subject for our photographers. We headed into the marsh on the partially replaced boardwalk and it was great to see that lizards had not only returned but were very approachable. Two Hobbies chased Dragonflies nearby and a Kestrel made an appearance.

Still no sightings of Colin or any of his kin but one was heard by a few of the group. We had walked just a small portion of the Common but seen a wealth of great birds, the weather gods had been with us and we headed home very contented, 3 of us via a highly recommended cafe in Elstead.

by Phil Davies