Farnham Heath 22 May 2022

Fourteen members met for the group’s first visit to the RSPB Farnham Heath reserve for three years on a warm and sunny Spring morning. Immediately the call of a cuckoo was heard and repeated intermittently throughout the walk while a buzzard soared overhead. At the entrance we had a brief view of a spotted flycatcher and a greenfinch while the songs of chiffchaffs and blackcaps rang out around us. Out on the heath we enjoyed the first Dartford warbler of the day; we were to see nine in total, a remarkable number for a bird that was absent from the reserve only a few years ago. Naturally there was a similar number of stonechats in close proximity including a newly fledged juvenile. A tree pipit provided extended entertainment with its parachuting and tuneful display flights. A redstart was distantly glimpsed while those at the front of the group saw a couple of woodlarks before they concealed themselves in the heather. Whitethroats scratched out their songs around the reserve while in the wooded areas willow warblers fluted and a garden warbler demonstrated why its song is sometimes described as a blackcap’s on steroids. The pool held so little water that it might be called a puddle but around it a few broad-bodied chasers and azure damselflies were in flight. Soon after we saw a pristine four-spotted chaser perched in close proximity. It was though a Dartford warbler that provided a finale circling us in a distraction flight as we inadvertently strayed too close to its nest. It was a productive morning with birds of excellent quality in a species list of 33.