May 2021 - Three Walks on Iping Commong

Monday 10 May – Iping Common Walk 1

Monday presented a challenging bird-watching morning on Iping Common. The wind was blustery and black clouds threatened from time to time. As it happened we had some sun and did not get wet. More importantly the birds kept hidden away in the shelter of the bushes and we had to rely on recognising snatches of song more than sighting. This of course is good practise at this time of year when we have forgotten the songs from last spring. From time to time the bird book came out trying desperately to interpret a description of the song.

Starting In the carpark we had robin, carrion crow, heard great tit, blackcap and saw a small group of swifts flying over. From the cars we walked a clockwise route, starting first left down the slope through dense gorse bushes to the small pond in a boggy area fed by a small stream. This is good for dragon flies in summer. Today no birds or insects but very attractive with reed islands and crystal clear water. We continued west across the open heathland area. Here multi stemmed silver birch trees looked attractive with their fresh leaves but few birds except blackbird, robin, wood pigeon, great tit and a buzzard circling. Eventually the path climbs to a higher level with more gorse. Here we heard chiffchaff, willow warbler, whitethroat and wren singing and jackdaw also seen.  From here the path turns north and east to follow the strait line towards the car park with gorse on both sides. This is normally the area for Dartford warblers and stonechats but sadly none seen. Here I vote the best view of the day was a group of linnets - a female appeared to keep her eye on us from a perch on a small tree - possibly had a nest nearby.

Sylvia Gill and Tony Nevard

Tuesday 11 May – Leader Jim Bagley – Iping Common Walk 2

Five members joined Jim Bagley for a morning walk on Iping Common which is west of Midhurst.  The morning was overcast and threatened rain. It did, however, improve as the morning went on. Although the trees and gorse were green with spring growth, the ground cover still looked in winter mode with little new growth and it was very dry. In the car park we heard Chiffchaff-Blackbird-Robin-Chaffinch and Blue Tit. The usual Woodpigeon and Crows flew over and Jackdaws called in the distance.  As we walked west along the high path we were lucky to see a Yellow Hammer in a birch tree. In the same area we noted a Wren-Great Tit and distant Willow Warbler were calling. We met a fellow birder who was doing a survey of the heath. He said he had found a Tree Pipit, which we did not see. He then showed us an area that was good for Dartford Warblers. We watched and waited, but to no avail! There was a busy footpath close by and our only compensation was a Swallow and a nearby Willow Warbler. In the same area a Woodlark was high up singing his fluty song. He suddenly closed his wings and dropped like a stone and at the last second landed on a dead birch tree. As we moved off we found two beetles on the path, studies showed that we had both a Heath Dor beetle and a Minotaur. Most attractive insects! The same member who knew his beetles was also knowledgeable on fungi. He identified two tree dwelling species namely Birch Polypore, also kown as Razorsstrop Fungus (Fomitopsis betulina, previous name Piptoporus betulinus) and Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor). On the way back we disturbed a pair of Stonechats. They were quite agitated so we assumed they had a nest close by. As we got nearer the car park a Sparrow Hawk was flying high overhead.

Although I would have hoped to see more species it was a most enjoyable morning and a small group of six is where everyone gets involved. Thank you for joining me!

Jim Bagley.
Correction of names of fungi, added 5/6/2021.
Further information from John Arnott that the photo shows a Heath Dumble Dor Beetle, which is rare, because there are no parallel lines (striae) on the wing cases, and the beetle is very glossy. 


Wednesday 12 May – Iping Common – Walk 3

The likelihood of drizzle receded and five members enjoyed a lovely walk mostly in sunshine, requiring some clothing adjustment during the morning!  There was no leader as such so it was a joint effort.  

After a fly-by Buzzard in the car park, we set off on the extreme left hand path, to the accompaniment of Chiffchaff and Blackbird.  Our fourth bird, just a little way along, was a Dartford Warbler, soon to be enjoyed by another, so a pair together probably breeding in the vicinity.  Good views of the colours, and cocked tail, were had in a small Scots Pine.  Then Gill heard a Cuckoo!  The bird was heard again on and off, but not seen.  We easily resisted the temptation to go home at this point, and as we walked past the pond and round towards the central spine path we saw a Buzzard flying very low through the Silver Birch, eventually spotted on a mature tree sitting on a low branch, before finally taking off away from us.  

A Pheasant called and a few Crows were seen, followed by the two-tone call of a Great Tit, the sound of a Wren, and in the distance the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker: a single Yellowhammer was found at the top of a tree.  We then had a conundrum as confident warbling notes emanated from a group of smallish Silver Birch.  Originally thought a possible Nightingale we finally identified it as a Blackcap, certainly one in fine voice.

Robin, Rook and Blue Tit were seen, and we admired the Bluebells and groups of Greater Stitchwort: alongside the chestnut coppice there were Foxgloves aplenty.  We next identified Willow Warbler song, with one or two more further on, and a Song Thrush sang his repeated refrain.  Near the summit of the reserve two Blackcaps were seen in flight, with good views of the male by a dead tree.  Both Large and Small White butterflies were spotted.  

Along the main path back towards the car park a Whitethroat was seen perched on top of gorse, and a little further along a bird which we identified as a Lesser Whitethroat.  Another Yellowhammer gave close but speedy views in a tree after crossing our path, and finally … we had a pair of Stonechats, again atop the gorse.  Well nearly finally… sitting down for our packed lunches we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker.  In all, 20 bird species.  It was a lovely morning in great company.

Diana Zeuner

Wednesday's Team

Monday - Team 1

Great Tit

Wood Lark

Female Stonechat

Female Linnet

Minotaur Beetle

Heath Dumble Dor Beetle

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