Farnham Heath 20 April 2024

A sunny spring morning saw eighteen people assembling in the car park of The Rural Life Centre.  A Red Kite flew over in the distance and Goldfinches were active and vocal in the nearby trees while we waited.  A Stock Dove was visible in the sun with iridescent red and green neck plumage shown off in the sun.  As we set off onto the RSPB reserve there was immediately a lot of activity around the feeding station amongst the pine trees with Blue Tits, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Nuthatches and Robins taking advantage of the seed available.  We began to hear Willow Warbler and also a Redstart singing, and eventually we all had good views of both birds.  The Redstart looked particularly splendid in his smart plumage, singing from the vantage point of a dead branch amidst the pine trees.

Following the path round a Garden Warbler could be heard but efforts to see it were unsuccessful.  A little further on the first Stonechats of the walk appeared distinctively perched on top of the vegetation.  The sound of Woodlarks could be heard as we walked but they were keeping out of sight.  We stopped to get some closer views of another Willow Warbler which eventually perched in the open for us to admire it.  The heathland at first sight appeared to be very quiet, however, there were some Linnets in gorse bushes, and after some time scanning we had fleeting views of a couple of Dartford Warblers and more Stonechats.  A pair of Buzzards soared high in the sky being mobbed by a Crow.

We had arrived at an area of the reserve that often contains Tree Pipits and were just remarking on that when one landed at the top of a pine tree and proceeded to ‘parachute’ down whilst singing.  We all had good views of this bird as it stayed for quite a while in the same position.  Woodlark and Tree Pipit then began singing as we walked on, and an identification challenge ensued to sort out which was which as we watched them.

Returning to our starting point for the walk we picked up a few more for the list at the feeders:  Greenfinch, Dunnock and a surprise Lesser Redpoll.  We had managed a respectable list of 31 species in all for the morning.

RSPB Farnham Heath 21 May 2023

Twenty two members met at the Rural Life Centre. Walking out onto the reserve we soon began to hear numerous Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. We then heard a Garden Warbler and eventually a few people in the group did see the bird. The distinctive song of a male Redstart followed and after a while we tracked it down to a group of pine trees for good views.  A distant Cuckoo was heard but unfortunately not seen. Soon it was the song of a Tree Pipit and Woodlark slightly further along the heathland path that alerted us to the birds perching characteristically from bare branches and the tops of trees.  The Tree Pipit did a couple of parachuting display flights for us as we watched.  Stonechats were busy feeding their young and there were brief views of one distant Dartford Warbler.  At one point a pair of Raven flew over in the distance. Through the more wooded areas, we saw a Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Linnets were flying down to the path to feed at one point and we were finally able to have good views of two singing Willow Warblers.

Back at the car park we had one last look back into the reserve in an area where a Spotted Flycatcher had been seen by some other birders.  Sure enough we had some fleeting views of the said Flycatcher through the tree canopy and decided to walk back into the trees but sadly it did not re-appear.  However, we added a Greenfinch to the sightings list plus a Hobby that appeared high above the trees and a Red Kite flying past. In the course of a really pleasant walk in the spring sunshine we identified 32 species of bird. We also saw a couple of dragonflies, some Holly Blues, Small Coppers and a couple of Red Admirals.

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.