Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.282

Published on: 2 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 1 Jul, 2023

By Malcolm Fincham

My arrival back to Guildford after my trip to the Orkney’s saw dry weather continuing to prevail.

Locally, temperatures continued to rise into the mid to high 20s centigrade as we progressed through the month.

Red-backed shrike, Thursley Common.

On June 8, reports of a male red-backed shrike diverted me to its location on Thursley Common. Unfortunately, only having my short-reach lens with me, I was only able to get a few ‘record-shots’ as it fed on bugs and beetles, at a distance across the bog.

Red-backed shrikes were recorded to have bred there in the early 1970s, but, alas, they are now regarded as less than an annual vagrant in Surrey.

Common redstart, this one seen on Farnham Heath.

Still doing reasonably well in recent years, however, are common redstarts, hearing one still in song on our arrival there.

Tree pipit.

Out on the heath tree pipits continued to be viewed.

Woodlark on Thursley Common.

While woodlarks remained present.

Black tern, Tice’s Meadow.

On June 13, I visited Tice’s Meadow, near Farnham, to view a black tern that had spent the day there as it passed through.

Continuing warm sunny days leading into the second week of June had helped to encourage a few more new species of butterfly to appear.

Black hairstreak, Epsom Common.

Black hairstreaks had begun to emerge again on Epsom Common where only in recent years had they been first been discovered.

Large skipper butterfly, Britten’s Pond.

Large skipper butterflies could also now be seen in flight, my first this year being at Britten’s Pond on June 14; while many more were viewed at numerous locations during the days that followed.

Meadow brown butterfly, wings closed.

Likewise, a few meadow brown butterflies had begun to emerge.

Cormorants, Britten’s Pond.

Also at Britten’s Pond, cormorants were making the most of the few days left before the anglers’ fishing season recommenced on June 16. As many as four cormorants could be seen out on the water during one visit.

Grey heron, Britten’s Pond.

A lone grey heron was a daily sighting there.

Common tern, Britten’s Pond.

And a common tern continued to ‘turn-up’ from time to time to fish the waters.

House martin, Britten’s Pond.

On one occasion a pair of house martins arrived briefly to grace the waters.

Common buzzard, Britten’s Pond.

Overhead, a pair of common buzzards would often grace the sky.

Swift, Britten’s Pond.

While swifts circled overhead, feeding on insects.

Blackcap, female, Britten’s Pond.

Within the foliage around the pond, a blackcap could be heard singing, intermittently, perhaps to encourage a nearby female I had viewed, that it was time to start a second brood?

Large white butterfly.

I was also able to get my first photo this year of a large white butterfly as it settled on the now flowering brambles beside the pond.

Kingfisher, Britten’s Pond.

I even got the opportunity of a photo of what was a rare visit from a kingfisher, during recent weeks.

Geese gathering at Britten’s Pond.

Both Canada and greylag geese, including their rapidly growing goslings were in excess of 100 individuals, in and about the pond by the latter part of the month.

Egyptian geese with goslings, Britten’s pond.

And by June 23, a pair of Egyptian geese had brought their goslings from the fields beyond to add to the ‘goose’ population.

Silver-studded blue, butterfly, Whitmoor Common.

On my local heathland of Whitmoor Common, by June 17, silver-studded blue butterflies had begun to emerge.

Small skipper butterfly.

And in the days that followed, also adding large skippers and small skipper butterflies.

Willow warbler, Whitmoor Common.

On a remote part of the heath, I discovered a willow warbler that could still be heard in song. The first I had heard on the common in recent years.

Treecreeper, Whitmoor Common.

Nuthatch, Whitmoor Common.

Treecreepers as a well nuthatches, were additions to my day’s photos.

Common whitethroat.

And a common whitethroat could viewed as it sang from a gorse bush.

Emperor dragonfly. (female).

A female emperor dragonfly buzzed around me, catching insects while ‘on the wing’. Eventually, she settled on a gorse bush, just long enough to photo.

Broad bodied chaser dragonfly. (male).

In one of the few ditches on the common still holding water, after what had been month without rain, a pair of broad-bodied chasers hovered.

Broad-bodied chaser dragonfly (female).

Also getting a few shots of the female in flight, as she laid her eggs in the now evaporating pool.

Linnet, Whitmoor Common.

Also arriving, at what was rapidly becoming an oasis to the wildlife, were a small group of linnets who came for a drink.

Green-eyed flower bee, Whitmoor Common.

Always on the lookout for the unusual, I found their were an abundant amount of small bees feeding on the flowering heather. These I later discovered were green-eyed flower bees.

Mottled Grasshopper.

Several species of grasshopper could also be found, including, what I believe to be, a mottled grasshopper.

A visit to the Riverside Nature Reserve, near Burpham on June 17, during another day of unbroken sunshine, helped to add a few more photo opportunities.

Comma butterfly, wings closed.

In the local areas I have recently visited. normally more common species of butterflies seem to be low in number this year. I was grateful, therefore, to add a comma butterfly to my day-list, even though it decided to close its wings every time it settled.

Peacock butterfly.

A peacock butterfly, another I had not seen in recent weeks, was fortunately more obliging.

Greenfinch, Riverside Nature Reserve.

Walking the River Wey Navigation towpath, several greenfinches allowed good photo opportunities as they perched up on some brambles.

Cetti’s warbler, previously photographed.

While at separate points across the river the intermittent but harsh calls of at least two Cetti’s warblers could still be heard.

Banded demoiselle, in flight.

Along the riverbank banded demoiselles gathered in good number, skimming over the water and perching up on the foliage along the bank-side.

Banded demoiselles, along the River Wey.

Some were already mating.

Reed bunting (male), Riverside Nature Reserve.

Both male and female reed buntings continued to be viewed from along the boardwalk. The males still in song.

Reed warbler.

As well as one of at least four reed warblers could still be heard in song by Stoke Lake.

Dark-green fritilary, Sheepleas.

At Sheepleas, near East Horsley, by June 18 dark-green Fritillary butterflies were starting to emerge.

Marbled white butterfly.

Also adding my first few marbled white butterflies to this year’s list of sightings.

Grizzled skipper butterfly.

And adding to my day-list, a grizzled skipper, now coming to the end of its season.

Butterfly orchid.

Various orchids continued to bloom, including what I believe are several butterfly orchids.

Kestrels soon to fledge.

At Clandon Wood Burial Ground the kestrel box was looking to be having another successful year, with several heads and bodies now in view and looking ready to fledge.

Bee orchid.

Just within the grassland along the borders of the walkways, small areas could be found where bee orchids grew.

Bee on a cornflower.

While among the many ox-eye daisies that were in flower, several cornflowers were attracting the bees.

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

And also adding, what to some, including myself, was surprisingly a late addition to my sightings, was my first small tortoiseshell butterfly of the year!

Red kites.

Elsewhere in and around the Guildford area, red kites continued to grace the skies.

Red kite.

Always absorbed by their presence, I continued to take time-out during recent weeks to be at one with them and taking a few photos.


While enjoying the company of several firecrests that could be heard in song.

Young robin.

And even getting the opportunity of photographing a juvenile robin in a holly bush close by.

By the last few days of the month, although still dry, daytime temperatures had cooled down to a respectable, and more comfortable maximum of 24 centigrade.

And on June 26 a trip to Chiddingfold Forest, in the company of Bob and Dougal, proved to be a productive one.

Ringlet butterfly (wings closed) Chiddingfold Forest.

The first addition to this year’s sightings was a ringlet butterfly, soon followed by many more, now freshly out as we progressed along the bridleway.

Silver-washed fritillary, Chiddingfold Forest.

Silver-washed fritillaries were also about in reasonable numbers, and another pleasant addition to our ‘year lists’.

White admiral butterfly, Chiddingfold Forest.

Adding white admiral butterflies, and even getting photos of several of them too.

Red admiral butterfly, Chiddingfold Forest.

Although having seen a few already this year, it was good to add a usually common red admiral to my day’s photos.

Wood white butterfly, Chiddingfold Forest.

And surprising to see a few wood white butterflies still on the wing.

Cinnabar moth caterpillars.

Among the most recognisable critter’s seen and photographed, were a group of cinnabar moth caterpillars, which had almost completely consumed the leaves on a ragwort plant.

Longhorn beetle.

As well as one of many species of longhorn beetle.

Our main ‘target’ species of the day, the purple emperor, was playing hard to get.

We twisted our necks in all directions as we watched them ‘dog-fighting’ in the canopies of the surrounding oaks.

Purple emperor butterfly, high up, Chiddingfold Forest.

Having spent several hours trying to ‘will’ one to the ground, we finally conceded  defeat and retraced our steps back to the car.

To our astonishment, and not far from where we were parked, and as if by some miracle, one was perched up on the path before us.

Purple emperor butterfly, Chiddingfold Forest.

We saw its distinctive blue / purple colouring, partially showing in the light as it deflected from its characteristically patterned wings!

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Responses to Birdwatcher’s Diary No.282

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    July 2, 2023 at 8:16 am

    If you had to pick a winner here I would say the wonderful photo of the Dark Green Fritillary.

  2. Simon Reply

    July 14, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    Really enjoyable articles. Don’t think we appreciate the amount of wildlife in our region.

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