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