10 of us joined Paul for our trip to Thursley Common. For those not familiar with the site, it is a National Nature Reserve: primarily a lowland heath with areas of bog, pine forest and small stands of birch. With dartford warbler, woodlark, nightjar and hobby being some of the breeding specialities of the site, we had high hopes of the day.
Birds were not our only quest however, as Thursley is also home to nationally rare invertebrates such as marsh grasshopper, and butterflies such as grayling and silver-studded blue thrive. Heath and bog plants are also to be seen with two species of sundew and bog asphodel also present.
With this in mind we set off. Around the lake we looked for dragonflies, and quickly spotted red-eyed and emerald damselfly. Whilst reed bunting sang, and hobbies flew overhead, emperor dragonfly, small red damselfly, keeled skimmer and black-tailed skimmer darted around the edge of the pools. As we watched the hobbies we realised they were catching and eating the dragonflies we were trying to spot – watching them eat on the wing was an amazing sight.
Moving away from the pools and onto the heathland, green and great spotted woodpecker were seen and after debating the calls of chaffinch and common redstart, we realised we were listening to both species. We soon tracked down the redstart, and two birds appeared to be carrying food, so to ensure minimum disturbance we moved off towards our lunch stop; pausing on the way to watch grayling and soon after silver-studded blue butterfly.
After lunch we moved off again and after spotting ringlet and large skipper, spotted several woodlark on the ground, we watched a family of 6 moving in the open and got excellent views of this great bird. We eventually dragged ourselves away, and soon identified a bog bush-cricket. A 7th woodlark was found on a telegraph wire, again with food in its beak and appeared very wary of us. We took this as our lead to return towards the car park.
An excellent day out, with some superb views of a wide range of species. Thanks to Paul for leading this great walk and Sue for some excellent “spots”.
YTD total 138 species