Having aborted the proposed visit to Thursley Common , the other side of Guildford on the A3 , because of the weather earlier in the week , I decided to give it a try this morning , as the outlook looked much more favourable . As I drove round the M25 towards Junction 10 , I began to wonder if I had made a good decision , as the blue skies I left at home , became more cloud laden the further I went , but I carried on . I arrived at the Moat Pond car park at about 0915 , and was welcomed by first the call , then a very brief sighting of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker , the first that I have seen/heard for a couple of years now . That seemed to set the theme for the visit , as I continually heard and saw Great Spotted and Green . The sun was just coming out from a bank of cloud , so I had a quick look at Moat Pond , which produced absolutely nothing , not even a Four Spotted Chaser which are always about , just a large number of , to put it politely , Mallard type ducks .Two Nuthatches and a family of Coal Tits were feeding in the Scots Pines , as I headed off to the main path through the wet area of the Reserve . The first photograph I took was of a butterfly , on the boardwalk , warming up in the sunshine . I had a good idea of it's species , but wasn't positive until I got home and confirmed it with the books , a Grayling . I got two shots , then tried to get onto the sunny side of the specimen . I was very careful , but obviously not careful enough , as it flew off purposefully , not to be seen again .
The first Dragonfly spotted was a Four Spotted Chaser , of the form 'praenubila' , which sports extensive markings near the wing tips , as well as the spot in the middle of each wing . A Damselfly that I usually see here , and not at many other sites , is the Emerald Damselfly-Lestes sponsa , a superb little specimen , that doesn't confirm to the 'Damselflies rest with their wings parallel with the abdomen' statement , but neither does it fit with the 'wings at right angles to the abdomn of Dragonflies' , perhaps it just likes being different . Thursley Common is well known for it's Raft Spiders , and I found one , 'doing what it says on the tin' . sitting on a raft . Well an old piece of duckboard . This one was just a youngster , about 2 cm. from front legs to back , but I have photographed larger specimens on previous visits . About halfway along the track , Black Darters , a species of acidic pools and moorland bogs , became the most numerous species . The male , as the name denotes , is mainly black , and smaller than it's relation the Common Darter . The female is much more colourful , and a brighter specimen completely . I found several freshly emerged females in the long grass , and the males were searching such areas lookin for them , with only one thing in mind when they found one . The biggest problem was when the cloud rolled in , as it did several times , bringing with it much stronger winds , making photography and following specimens almost impossible . It was in a sheltered corner , out of the wind , that I had my only sighting of Banded Demoiselle , a male . This is a species that I usually find in good numbers , but like Emperor Dragonfly , only three were found today , they were not on the wing in that wind . Another species that I find here is the Small Red Damselfy , another lover of acidic bog pools . Apart from the smaller size , it can be identified from the Large Red Damselfly , by the red legs and pterostigma-patches on ends of wings , compared to the black legs and pterostigma of the LRD .
All along the duckboards , whenever the sun came out , so too did the Common Lizards . They seem to come in all colours , but brown and green seem to be the most numerous , with lots of juveniles around . Other butterflies seen were few , just Peacock , Meadow Brown and a still very good conditioned female Large Skipper . I looked on the regenerated Heather , following the fire a couple of years ago , for Silver Studded Blues , but did not find any . But whilst there , I did get good , if distant sightings of two adult male Redstarts , and later saw a juvenile . Unfortunately , no sign of Dartford Warbler . After lunch , the cloudcover got thicker , so I decided to do one last lap in the reverse direction . No new species were found , but on a log in one of the ditches , I found 'the mother of all Raft Spiders ' . It was huge . I would estimate 5 cm. from tip of front , to tip of back legs . I can't be sure , but I think it was a female , and she was quite happy for me to get my shots , after which , I left her in peace .
A really good day out , and made even better by a phone call whilst writing this , that a White Letter Hairstreak was found at High Elms today .
No need to say where I will be tomorrow .
21 hours ago