Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.135

Published on: 21 May, 2017
Updated on: 21 May, 2017

By Malcolm Fincham

”Making hay while the sun shines” is certainly the theme most apt for my latest report. Unfortunately spending as much time as available to scout the countryside left me short on time to ”waffle” in depth with my exploits over the last few weeks.

A synopsis, however, will be applauded by the many who just enjoy looking at recent photos taken in areas they may possibly recognise.

Despite the continuing cool theme to the weather, the bank holiday weekend leading into the month of May opened the door to a few new sightings to add to nature’s calendar, or at least a few more additions to mine.

Whitethroat. Click on pictures to enlarge in a new window.

Just before the month was out, on April 29 I took an evening walk on Whitmoor Common. On previous recent visits I had seen a common whitethroat, linnets and willow warblers, to name a few.

This time I was delighted to hear the sound of a cuckoo. Although not so confiding as the one on Thursley Common I wrote about in my previous report.

Looking down-river toward Triggs Lock near Sutton Green.

A walk with my daughter a few days later in the area surrounding Triggs Lock near Sutton Green, produced a few interesting sightings too.

Goldcrest singing near Triggs Lock.

First, a goldcrest singing from a bush, close to the footpath.

Bat at Triggs Lock.

Near the lock gates I spotted an unusual sight of a bat out flying in daylight. It appeared to be hunting insects just above a hedgerow. A determined attempt to photograph it eventually produced some reasonable record shots.

Bat at Triggs Lock.

On posting a few of my pictures pictures to fellow wildlife watcher Derek, for his superior knowledge, he kindly responded: ”I posted a cropped copy of the pictures on ukbatworkers Facebook page and everyone agrees that it looks like a serotine, especially in view of the fact that the end of the tail appears to extend beyond the tail membrane.

“If it was quite big, (difficult to assess in flight but bigger than a sparrow) then that clinches it. The pipistrelles look like a scaled-down serotine. They are much smaller but although they are so small they can look biggish in flight.

” A pipistrelle would have a dashing, fluttery flight with lots of sudden changes of direction, making them as difficult to photograph in flight as a dragonfly.”

Having not shown Derek some of my dragonfly pictures, I remain open to opinion?

With the continuation of dry weather, a walk along the public footpath leading to Send Church was an easier one to negotiate, without getting my wet feet.

Reed bunting.

Allowing me photos of a common whitethroat. And reed buntings as we walked across the meadows.

Common buzzard flying low across the tree line.

The regular sighting there of a common buzzard as it glided by just below the tree line, before soaring up high into the thermals of the blue sky.

Mayfly has a short lifespan, but a great food source of others.

Now hatching from the river were a few Mayflies.

Banded demoiselle.

A few banded demoiselles had also started to emerge over the water.

Hobby out hunting near Triggs Lock.

These seemed to be attracting the attention of a hobby as it hunted back and forth along the quiet backwaters of the River Wey.

A rare day of rain during the first week of May coincided with foolish optimism. Bob, Dougal and I decided we should still venture out to the Chiddingfold woods as we were expecting the rain to disperse.

Wood white at Oaken Wood, Chiddingfold.

Apart from a soaking, it did pay off as we found a solitary, bedraggled wood white butterfly as it attempted to shelter under a bramble leaf.

The wood white, once a common and widespread butterfly across the southern half of the UK, has been in sharp decline over the past century. It is now found only in a few scattered colonies where vetches discretely grow in sheltered areas of tall grassland.

Small heath butterfly.

A few days later, and with dry conditions returning, we visited Witley Common, still on the trail of emerging early butterflies. We added several sightings of the small heath species.

Green-veined white butterfly.

A few green-veined whites.

Grizzled skipper.

And even a single sighting of a grizzled skipper.

Garden warbler.

I was also able to get my first photograph of a garden warbler this year.

With good friend Dougal keen on his ”year listing of wildlife” the following day, May 7, with the addition of Bob, we revisited Staines Reservoir (see previous report).

Kestrel at Staines Reservoir.

Welcomed by the sight of a kestrel perched on overhead wires as we parked up, we made our way on to the gantry.

Black tern unmistakable during the breeding season when it displays a distinctive dark plumage from which it is named.

Across the south basin we were able to add the sighting of two black terns.

Arctic tern.

Several common terns as well as an Arctic tern.

Yellow wagtail seen at Staines Reservoir.

And even a solitary yellow wagtail to our lists of ”year” sightings.

Common sandpiper.

A common sandpiper flew out from the water’s edge just below us.

Turnstone at Staines Reservoir.

As we walked along the gantry we saw a turnstone, less bothered by our presence, looked rather dapper in its summer coat.


And a large number of swifts feeding over the water.

With time to spare we also visited Staines Moor.

Red kite mobbed by a crow.

A pair of red kites flew low overhead. One calling incessantly, while being mobbed by a crow.

Red kite at Staines Moor.

While the second posed nicely for my camera.

Common tern at Staines Moor.

I also got some better pictures of common terns than the ones I had seen previously at the reservoir.

Common tern.

Catching a combination of shots as they hovered over the stream.

Common tern.

Then plunging into the water catching small fish.


In the warmth of the sun, several butterflies could be seen out on the wing.

Male orange-tip butterfly.

Most of which I had seen already this year, they included a few male and female orange tips.

Female orange-tip butterfly.

Holly blue at Staines Moor.

And eventually a photo of a holly blue.

Common blue butterfly at Staines Moor.

I also managed to get my first common blue sighting and picture of this year.

Weather remaining rather cool, on an overcast May 8 a challenge came my way from Guildford Dragon NEWS writer David Rose who was interested to see for himself some of the species I had seen and reported on recently at Thursley Common.

Having been greeted by the ”ever present” chiffchaff still singing from the same spot it took up several months ago, we also spotted numerous stonechats as we made our way across the boardwalk.

Tree pipit on Thursley Common.

I was able to point out and get a photo of a tree pipit.


A small group of woodlarks flew low, across the footpath. As they camouflaged themselves in the heather, I was able to relocate them and even get a record shot of one.

One of the many photogaphers that have come from far and wide to see the confiding cuckoo on Thursley Common.

Arriving at the ”parish field” we noticed a small group of people sheltered under a tree. The paparazzi had already arrived!

Confiding cuckoo.

In front of them, perched on a short stick was the star of the show.

Cuckoo jumps down for a snack.

This cuckoo had now become so famous it was attracting photographers from as far afield as Norfolk, Bristol and South Wales.

Cuckoo, one of many pictures of it taken on my previous visit.

For me, I was already more than happy with the pictures I had taken on my previous visit.

Male stonechat on Thursday Common.

However, while quietly “dug in” with the other photographers I grabbed a few shots of both a male and a female stonechat.

And a female stonechat.

The robin who came to visit too.

And a robin who also posed there.

Mistle thrush.

Just across the field a mistle thrush ”scratched”around for a meal.

Dartford warbler.

A bonus to our ”day-list”, as we made our return across the heathland was a Dartford warbler, perched and posing proudly on a gorse bush.

A view from th main lagoon at Farlington.

The following day an invite from Bob took me in the direction of Portsmouth and a leisurely stroll around a bright and sunny Farlington Marshes.

A plethora of goodies there included:

Godwits and grey plovers at Farlington.

Godwits and grey plovers out on the main lagoon.

One of the avocets seen at Farlington.

A pair of avocets could also be seen.

Bearded tit skims across the reeds at Farlington.

Several pairs of bearded tits, popping their heads over the reed beds, and frustratingly challenging to photograph.

Kestrel at Farlington.

A kestrel winging past us at pace.

Wheatear at Farlington.

Out in the field, a single wheatear had safely arrived from its epic journey back from Africa.

Shelducks at Farlington.

A doading of shelducks made their way down into one of the smaller lagoons that hadn’t dried up.

Shelducks take flight.

While two shelducks took flight, eventually flying overhead and out to sea.

Skylark at Farlington.

In the sky above the field, one of several skylarks sang.

Gadwall at Farlington.

While in the area known as ”the deeps”, three gadwall took flight.

Common terns at Farlington.

Among the various ducks and waders there a pair of common terns could be seen resting on one of the small islands.

Linnet at Farlington.

Linnets could be seen and heard in small flocks among the brambles and hedgerows around the reserve.

Curlew flies in from the harbour.

The incoming tide rapidly rising in Langstone Harbour, pushed a few waders closer to view. These included a curlew.

Whimbrel at Farlington.

And a whimbrel.

By the time we had neared the end of our stroll along the seawall, the tide was high.

Little tern at Farlington.

Similar to the tide, so was I, at the sight of two little terns, making their way toward us, tucked in close to the seawall.

Little tern does an acrobatic turn at Farlington.

Little tern sets its sights on a fish in Langstone Harbour, Farlington.

Having spent their winter in West Africa and migrated to the UK to breed.

Diving for a fish.

The little tern is a fast flyer with rapid, flickering wing-beats and it can be seen hovering before diving.

Little tern takes to the air again.

The Norfolk name for the little tern is ‘Little Pickie’, because the way they skilfully ‘pick’ fish from the sea with their bills. The call is a loud and distinctive creaking noise, sounding, to me, a bit like a squeaky toy.

A perfect end to another pleasant day!

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.135

  1. A Tatlow Reply

    May 22, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Stunning – thank you.

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