On Sunday Colin and I headed out to Thursley as it looked to be a good day for insects-and we had done the trip the same time last year with good results.
Although it was a bit cool when we arrived, the sun was shining and since it was a bit early we headed out into the middle of the reserve to look for birds rather than do the circular walk up to Shrike Hill. I cannot remember the last time we had visited this bit of the reserve-it was certainly well before the big fire ten years ago. Then we could expect to see Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks and Tree Pipits but I had no idea if their populations had recovered.
The first birds I found were a pair of Redstarts just east of the Moat, and then we started to pick up family parties of Stonechats. The first dragonflies were seen in the ditches by the main track-Keeled Skimmers in abundance, the first of many Emerald Damselflies and our only pair of Small Red Damselflies of the day. Swallows were feeding overhead, and a few Brimstones and Gatekeepers were seen, plus a few Skippers.
The large stands of Gorse (actually on Oakley Common) held a family of Dartford Warblers, and vast numbers of Black Darters and a few Silver Studded Blues were in the more open areas. We reached the woods at the south eastern end and after chatting to one of the locals we made our way back heading towards Shrike Hill and eventually onto the boardwalk. Here we found many Common Darters, a few Ruddys, more Emeralds and Skimmers, one Emperor and a couple of Common Hawkers. Rather strangely no Chasers were seen on the three hour circuit and hardly any blue damselflies either, though a few were of the latter on the Moat lilies.
As last year we spent the early afternoon in the Straits Inclosure of Alice Holt Forest. Birds were rather quiet but I found a couple of juvenile Spotted Flycatchers in exactly the same tree I saw some last year. Butterflies were largely restricted to Meadow Browns and Ringlets along the ride, with a few Silver Washed Fritillaries on the brambles, plus a few Peacocks and Commas. A few Purple Hairstreaks were seen up in the tops of the trees but unfortunately despite spending a while around the two Sallows no Purple Emperor appeared.