My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

On a dragon hunt in Thursley on a wet day!

Firstly - my apologies to my regular visitors/friends that I haven't responded to your comments on previous posts. This was due to being away for a few days unexpectedly.

Yesterday, I'd arranged a day out with Frank (The Early Birder) to go Dragon hunting; to see them and take pictures. It was just a tadge under 2 years ago that I'd been to Thursley Heath for the first time (with Pete) and am amazed that I haven't been back before this!

As I picked Frank up (yes - I was driving; Frank was navigating so we didn't lose our way :D ) it was, shall we say, a heavy drizzle. Undeterred we took stock and decided we'd start at the new RSPB Reserve at Farnham Heath. This is adjacent to the Rural Craft Centre - which was very much closed - so no drinks or loos available!! Pity really it would have been good to investigate the centre.

There were many bird feeders around the back of the Visitor Centre and the first bird espied was a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Many, many pine woods; and it was great walking through the woods full of very high conifers. I was amazed at how extensive the area is!





During our fairly lengthy but very enjoyable walk around the heath, the following were seen
(and thanks to Frank for his better memory than mine)

Tree Pipits (Adult + 3 juvs)
Jay
Stonechat
Great Spotted Woodpecker (on feeder)
Wren
Blackbird
Butterfly - Meadow Brown

From there we headed off to Frensham Great Pond (they had loos there!) and a much needed cuppa coffee. We also sat and had our picnic lunch (only got chased by the rain back to the car once!). Unfortunately this recent week there has been an extensive fire at Frensham and the acrid smell of smoke was much evident. It was so sad to see the swathes of blackened ground where the fire had been. :( (Thursley Heath had also been victim of a fire in July of 2006 and although, in the main, the evidence was much less apparent than when I was there 2 years ago, the charred remains of fallen and, still upright, tree trunks were there for all to see.)

We didn't wander but from our (rather damp wooden bench) but as we ate our lunch, we watched the birds on the water and saw:

Canada Geese
Black-headed Gull
Common Terns (two diving for fish way out on the water)
Great Crested Grebes (two of them)
Coot (loads!)
Crow
Mallard

From there, onto Thursley Common where we were the second car in the car park (another was a white van with the driver having lunch). It was very quiet and very little flying about - or even sitting still for that matter. Although the following list would suggest otherwise, we were there for some time and the sightings were very spaced out.

Redstart (Male + juvs) (lifers for me so I was well chuffed :D )
Stonechats
Chaffinch
Canada Geese
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Magpie
Mallard
Cormorant
Grey Heron
Crow
Woodlark - brief flight view.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Dragons
Keeled Skimmer
Black-tailed Skimmer
Damsels
Blue-tailed
Butterflies
Large Skipper
Gatekeeper - wings closed.
And Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars - in their dozens!


As we looked out over the lake (near to the car park) I was very surprised to see that the Mallards were eating the Water Lily flowers!!


A Keeled Skimmer

One of a family of Canada Geese

It was damp throughout the day and many cobwebs were covered in water droplets looking like jewels.


There was much of this yellow-flowered wildflower about
(If anyone can ID it I would be grateful)

Edit: Frank has confirmed that this is Bog Asphodel (Narthiceum ossifragum)

Equally this plant which had finished flowering.
(I agree that this looks like a "finished" orchid of some kind)

And this must be Cotton Grass of which there was much about.

In the distance a Roe Deer came into view.

A large skipper sat trying to catch some sunlight

and a Gatekeeper refused to open its wings.

There is a "field" in amongst all the heathland, and said field was covered with Ragwort - the Ragwort in its turn, was covered with Cinnabar Caterpillars - dozens and dozens of them. Hopefully because of the amount of food provided a goodly number will pupate and turn into the day flying Cinnabar Moth. It would be lovely to see these moths!




And with that we braved the traffic and we returned. A lovely day out in good company - thanks Frank.

6 comments:

The Early Birder said...

Thanks for driving..it was very pleasant to be the passenger and watch the world pass by!
As I suspected the yellow plant is
Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) and the other looks like the remains of a Marsh Orchid.

A very enjoyable day..thanks for your company...FAB.

Roy said...

Lousy weather for Dragon hunting Tricia, whatever, as long as you took you sword and shield with you.{:)

holdingmoments said...

Despite the weather Tricia, you got some lovely shots; and had a great time too, by the looks of it.

Richard said...

I haven’t visited Thursley for a few years so your post grabbed my attention.
At the risk of sounding like a pedant however, you’ve misspelled the specific bit of the scientific name for Bog Asphodel which is ossifragum and means ‘bone-breaker’.
Vegetation in an acid bog is calcium deficient and in the days when sheep were grazed in this habitat they would develop brittle bones and the poor old asphodel, being one of the most obvious plants got all the blame. Intriguingly though, it’s recently been discovered that Bog Asphodel does indeed contain a chemical that weakens bone.
Richard

Tricia said...

Frank - my pleasure!! Although some of the views were shrouded in cloud! Thanks for the ID of the plant - I'd forgotten its name.

Roy - not the ideal day but it was what was served up!! And yes - I had all I needed to fend off dragons!

Keith - thank you - yes a good time was had by all I think!

Richard - very many thanks; I hadn't noticed my typo (duly amended). It's interesting to hear the science behind the name. I shall avoid eating it;)

Tony said...

Thurley used to be a terrific spot for Dartford Warblers back in the late 70s. Did the fires wipe them out? Pleased to know the Woodlarks and Redstarts are still there!

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