Reservoir Ducks & Thursley Darts

Mid February and last weekend (4th March) saw Team Sausage make two forays into neighbouring Surrey in search of feathered fancies. All pics on this blog courtesy of Mrs Sausage.

18th February was our first visit this year to Thursley Common. While we enjoy Thursley generally, we did have a couple of target birds on this occasion, and the Dartford Warbler was at the top of our list. Arriving mid-afternoon in fair conditions, we didn’t have to wait too long to gain our life tick. Once clear of the boardwalk and among the scrub, a short call and a fluttering of stone-grey feathers delivered our first sighting of the day – a Dartford Warbler!

A resident bird in England, the Dartford Warbler is dependent on dry heath habitats. The rough gorse and sandy soil of Thursley offers a perfect environment for them.

Our other target bird was Woodlark, another resident Thursley bird. We thought we had finally nailed a sighting in Parish Field but were denied again. Closer viewing showed that what we had was actually a couple of Skylark foraging in the grass – still a treat!

Woodlark song was however heard around as us as we left Parish Field. A great burst of late afternoon activity brought us Song Thrush, Redpoll, Linnet, Stonechat and Goldfinch flitting among the bare branches around us.

A rewarding afternoon at one of our favourite locations. No Woodlark, but a good half dozen Dartford Warblers and a dusk chorus more than made up for it.

Last Saturday saw us braving a bracing breeze atop Staines Reservoirs. Having seen both Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes there in recent weeks, Mrs Sausage insisted in getting her own view. We dusted down the scope and made the short journey to the edge of exotic Staines.

The reservoir surrounds wwere hosting a good number of obliging Meadow Pipits.

The North Basin in particular was home to decent numbers of a variety of ducks.

From the uber smart Gadwall:

To punky Tufted Ducks:

With plucky Teal:

And even distant Shelduck:

Staying out of camera range were a few Goldeneye, Wigeon and Pochard.

We were very lucky that both the Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe’s were on the South Basin and came in fairly close. The wind certainly didn’t make photography easy but I think Mrs Sausage did them justice.

Adding to the Grebe family were several Great Crested Grebes too – a little further out on the North side but always a lovely bird to see.

With Canada Goose, Black-headed Gull, Coot, Cormorant and two Mute Swans also enjoying the choppy reservoir waters, we had a quite respectable species count.

Offshore we managed to see plenty of Carrion Crow and an obliging Pied Wagtail.

For a short visit before the weekly grocery run, this was a pretty solid haul. Mrs Sausage joined the exotic Grebe club and added a new site to her list of birding locations. With spring threatening to arrive any minute, we’re looking forward to more adventures in the weeks to come!

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