Sunday 12 June 2022

Thursley Common, Surrey

A few weekends ago I decided to head back to the beautiful Thursley Common Nature Reserve in Elstead, Surrey. I had paid a visit in 2021 to see the famous 'Colin the Cuckoo' (scroll to the end of this post).

This time I thought I'd try to ignore Colin and pay a bit more attention to what else the reserve has to offer. Its a good spot for Dartford Warbler, Common Redstart and Woodlark. Photos, or better still sound recordings, of any or all of those would be more than acceptable.

I came across a male Common Redstart that was holding territory in a stand of mature Scot's Pines. I positoned my parabola and sat back for an whole hour to listen to him.




It was only after discussing this with Sean Ronayne later on that he pointed out that Redstarts perform a lot of mimicry. Its well described in this Sound Approach article. I listened back and could pick up House Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, European Bee-eater, Blackbird and Green Woodpecker. Have a listen to this brief snippet where the bird does the classic Green Woodpecker 'laugh' right at the end.


They do apparently mimic a lot of Bee-eater species that they must come across on their African wintering grounds but I could only recognise European Bee-eater and that recording wasn't exactly top quality. 

If you can hear Woodlarks singing in the background then that's because there were plenty of them, including this bird singing from the top of a tree.


Woodlark recorded singing from the top of this tree

Despite my best intentions no trip to Thursley would be complete without Colin. I stopped off at the Parish Field on arrival that morning at 6.45am and needed only to wait for thirty minutes before he appeared. 

I know its like 'shooting fish in a barrell' but I don't care, what a stunning chap. I wish him well on yet another return trip to Africa!

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