Guest Post - Thursley + Papercourt

As the temperature has increased dramatically over the last few days (to a balmy 17 degrees yesterday) a good long walk seemed a good idea today. Thursley was chosen in the hope of spotting the elusive Great Grey Shrike, which has been seen fairly frequently recently.

Grey skies this morning but very still and also very warm. Lots of birds singing upon arrival but not many to be seen as they all appeared to be well hidden in the trees and bushes. The usual pairs of stonechats were the first to be seen. Plenty of them -  and plenty of noise too. Further into the common there were large numbers of reed buntings, both male and female and also a couple of very reddish pink linnet.  Spent a good 30 minutes watching these as they flew from bush to bush.

Reed Bunting

 Wrens and Goldcrest could also be heard and every now and then could be glimpsed darting in and out of the bushes. No photographs possible of these as they are far too quick and I am far too slow!
Then a few yards further into the common two very different birds appeared, moving up the gorse towards me and stopping within a few metres.  Dartford Warblers……not one, but two !!!! One was quite dark (see photo) but the other was sporting the very distinctive dull wine-red chest and long cocked tail. Incredible. The birds fluttered to and fro for about 10 minutes before I thought of taking a photograph and after only one photo they then disappeared. I waited a full hour for them to come back but unfortunately they must have had other plans.

Dartford Warbler

Running out of time, I made a quick dash up and around ‘Shrike Hill’ but no sign of the Shrike. To be quite honest, after the DW’s I didn’t care !

…….as an aside I also visited Papercourt Meadows at the weekend to catch up on the Short-Eared Owls. This was my 4th visit this year and once again I had no luck despite it being a beautiful evening. However, there were many roe deer leaping around and also 3 Barn Owls hunting in the fields.  

Barn Owl

Roe Deer

Thank you for reading.

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