Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.

Monday 3 December 2012


November is always traditionally my busiest time of the year – a number of deadline-based jobs need to be completed at the same time during the month, so there's plenty of 16-hour days, but then at the end of it there's immense relief that all went OK. Hence, no birding for nearly four weeks.

When December arrives I've more time to venture out and so it was on Saturday. It was a crisp, inviting morning, but having not had much sleep lately I wasn't going to rush, so I hit the M25 at about 9.30am.

My destination was Thursley Common. I'd heard through Doug and Penny Boyd that Dartford Warblers had made a welcome return to the Common after the fire that ravaged the habitat in 2006. At least seven have been seen since August so it was a good time to see them for myself.

It was a good visit. The first good sightings were two Peregrine Falcons flying west, and later a ringtail Hen Harrier (155) flew west over the Common. After a bit of a search, I eventually caught up with three vocal and showy Dartford Warblers.

They are currently located in two areas of the Common, the majority are to the north-east near  Ockley Common, with the others by South Bog to the south of Shrike Hill. The hope is they survive the winter and flourish next year – it's been a good start.

The other motive for travelling to Thursley was to catch up with a Great Grey Shrike. A favourite species of mine, the Great Grey Shrike is a regular visitor to Thursley during the winter months and will often stay as late as April, at about the same time the Common Redstarts arrive for the summer.

The Thursley Common Great Grey Shrike strikes a pose
A handsome individual
Having walked a complete circuit of the Common and drawn a blank, a number of birders I bumped into had heard that, while mobile, it had been seen close to the tumulus to the east of the Common, where I had been about 40 minutes earlier. I headed back that way, and a local birder pointed out where it was. The Great Grey Shrike was being hassled by a Jay and flew to a half-dead birch where it stayed for at least 15 minutes giving excellent views.

A very smart individual, it is thought there may be two Shrikes in the area, similar to last winter.

1 comment:

  1. Thursley is one of the most beautiful birding spots in Surrey. Congrats on seeing the shrike. I have never been in luck