Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.9

Published on: 19 Jun, 2012
Updated on: 19 Jun, 2012

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By Malcolm Fincham

The greatest  highlights of my visits to Stoke reserve last week were watching the progress of the young kestrels under the guidance of at least one of the parents showing rudimentry hunting skills.

Can you spot the three kestrels?

It’s not rare to see kestrels in the same tree, as they will continue to roost together after fledgeing the nest for several months before seeking their own territories.

On Friday, June 15, I visited Thursley Common, as I hadn’t ventured that way since my sighting of a great grey shrike that I included in in my first report back in early April.

Parking at the Moat car park as I did on the previous occasion, I decided to take my usual route across the boardwalk in the direction of Pine Island.


To my surprise, the first bird I set eyes on (as of last time) was a curlew in flight, but this time not calling.


Other birds to be both heard and seen as I made way along the boardwalk were chiff chaff, stonechat and reed bunting.

Beyond Pine Island, along the lower parts of ‘Shrike Hill’, I was pleased to discover a pair of redstart nesting. I watched for a while from a distance while both parents flew back and forth with food for their young.

Female redstart.

While watching I also heard and noted a tree pipit on the other side of the path doing its parachuting impression and making its sound, which is reminisant of a battery in its voicebox that is losing its charge!

Tree pipit.

My next sighting, and a very pleasing one to me, were three Woodlark all on the sandy footpath about 20 yards ahead of me.  Once again it seemed that nature had saved the best to last, as walking back along the last leg of my trip I noticed a bird that at first I couldn’t quite determine. It was high and distant at first, definitely a bird of prey. However, it wasn’t until it got closer and swooped down with such purpose and agillity that I realised it wasn’t a kestrel, as I had first imagined it might be, but was a hobby hunting across the marsh.

During the week I also took the oppotunity of visiting Frensham Pond and by chance discovered another redstart nest – right beside a public footpath.

It must be stressed that the greatest of respect should be taken if one happens to discover a nest of any kind when in use. The pictures I have taken, and seen here, were taken with a zoom lens from the footpath. The parent birds remained comfortable feeding their young.


To end the week  on Saturday, June 17, I took a late afternoon walk up The Mount from Guildford town centre and was delighted to see and hear two skylarks singing over the the fields – like small dots high in the sky.

However, as I watched, and while few dog walkers passed by totally oblivious to the skylarks’ existence, the birds then decended from their dizzy hights and landed at first into the long grass. Fortunately, one decided to stroll out on to the footpath allowing me to take a photo.

It’s always so pleasing for me to know that so near to the hussle and bustle of the town centre nature can still be seen at its best.

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