The weather was fine for our walk at Bookham Common today. Twenty members assembled at the Tunnel Car Park in excellent conditions though the protection of the shade in the wooded parts of the Common was later much appreciated. We began well with a family of Goldcrests (at least 4) feeding next to the route towards the Plains. Wrens and Blackcaps joined in the forest fun! The open, grassy area offered us views of Gold- and Greenfinches, Chiffchaffs galore, Whitethroat, Song Thrush, and we also heard a Green Woodpecker. Butterflies were plentiful, including Large Skippers and a Marbled White. Once past the Plains Car park we saw lots of Common Spotted Orchids, and a little further on, everyone heard the Cuckoo. A Great Spotted Woodpecker perched in the sunshine, and a Buzzard circled over the wood. We stopped for a welcome drink near the Hundred Pound car park, then climbed up to the well-known Purple Emperor trees/clearings, where we came across plenty of photographers, some of whom had been successful in their search. Sadly, we failed to find an Emperor, but we did encounter Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral. Birds were a little scarce as we walked through the woods, although Nuthatch and Jay gave good views. At the bird hide near the ponds, we saw Coots, Little Grebes and a swimming Grey Heron, but our view was somewhat hampered by the tall reeds and scrub. The other ponds produced plenty of Canada Geese and Mallards, plus a solitary Moorhen. We were back at the cars by 12.45, having notched up a commendable total of at least 34 bird species, and seen plenty of butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers.
Sixteen members set off in overcast and slightly breezy conditions hoping that, even if bird sightings were to be relatively rare, we might come across some interesting butterflies.
We crossed the Central Plain first, where we saw several Common Whitethroats, plus Gold- and Greenfinches and the odd Robin. A couple of tall Common Spotted Orchids also caught our attention. Once past the Plains Car Park, we followed the road towards Manor Cottage, briefly entertained by an overflying Grey Heron. A rain shower didn’t hold us up for long, and we made our way to the Hundred Pound Bridge. On the way, a few Swallows and Swifts were spotted, and then a Cuckoo flew over, the bird of the day.
As the sun came out and the temperature rose, our attention turned increasingly to butterflies: we saw Speckled Wood, Comma, Red Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and, pleasingly, several White Admirals. We paused for a while at the well-known Purple Emperor hotspot but sadly were not rewarded with a view of this rare treasure. Nevertheless, we enjoyed wandering along the recently-widened woodland rides, where Large and Small Skippers were added to our butterfly list, as well as a newly-emerged Emperor Dragonfly.
As we headed south along a less-frequented path through the wood, we heard plenty of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs plus both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. The odd Buzzard also mewed overhead. The bird hide produced no water-birds at all on this occasion but we did see a couple of Stock Doves and Woodpigeons in the surrounding trees. Despite the slightly disappointing weather conditions the outing was enjoyable with the total number of bird species recorded 21.
Eleven members met in the Tunnel Road car park for this rescheduled walk on a sunny but chilly morning. A vociferous song thrush welcomed us while a pair of jays gambolled among the trees. At the start of the Plains the scrub was alive with birdsong but surprisingly few were taking to the air and none were perched for viewing. As we proceeded repentant whitethroats at last began to appear in good numbers and we also heard the call of the first of two distant cuckoos. Chiffchaffs and blackbirds formed a backdrop of sound interrupted only once by the rattle of a lesser whitethroat. At the end of the Plains a small diversion was rewarded by the appearance of two male bullfinches. At the north of the common blackcaps joined the chorus and began to offer good views. We returned via the heronry where only two grey herons appeared to be on nests and then passed the ponds where the star birds were an adult little grebe with a single lozenged juvenile already adept at diving for food. In total 32 species were observed.