Reptiles, ‘rachnids ‘n redstarts – Thursley Common

A belated blog post to say the least! A balmy Sunday afternoon on 19 June found us roaming around Thursley Common. There were some signs of the summer slow-down kicking in with the bird life but there was a surfeit of alternative life to watch and enjoy; an example of this was the boardwalk which was festooned with Common Lizards. One could barely make half a dozen steps without seeing one or several of our most common reptile basking in the warm conditions.

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To our amateur eyes, some of the lizards were looking somewhat portly around the middle. Common Lizards give birth to live young so are these perhaps pregnant females?

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A single Skylark broke cover briefly and reeled from an old bench, letting us know that there was still some active avian activity on the common.

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With the weather warm but overcast the dragonflies were in short supply this time. Smaller insects were however making the most of the heavy atmosphere. The boardwalk was home to plenty of hoverflies, emitting a high-pitched buzzing-whine that once heard was impossible to stop hearing.

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A strong contender for sighting of the day was this Raft Spider which we were lucky enough to find fully exposed on the boardwalk.

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This was a big beast though, one of Britain’s largest spiders and quite intimidating in its stance but beautifully coloured and a first for us.

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Mrs Sausage managed to get quite close to this Whitethroat as we made our way into the heathland.

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As with our last visit to Thursley, Tree Pipits were quite visible, making their presence known with constant flying forays from high branches to low then back again.

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This particular pipit was quite obliging, Mrs Sausage getting the best angle for some lovely poses.

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Stonechats appear to be a given at Thursley too. Each visit we have made has seen a good number present. Today was no exception and we were able to indulge the cameras a little.

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With no Cuckoo at Parish field this time, we took stroll around and enjoyed some quite photogenic rabbits.

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An elusive Treecreeper remained resolutely camera shy, but I just managed to pick out this male Redstart that, despite calling repeatedly, refused to emerge from the cover of the tree it was sheltered in.

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With the birding season starting to drift into the lazy long days of summer, we expected something of a downturn in numbers on this visit. We were unlucky to miss out on seeing a Dartford Warbler despite hearing it singing and getting a very quick flash as it zipped past us into a hedge. However, a visit that has Tree Pipits, Redstarts, Stonechats and a bloody great Raft spider is certainly not one to be sneezed at. Our next report will be from further afield than the lovely open expanses of Surrey though.

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