Tuesday 18 August 2020

Green Urban Birding: The Cobham Loop 18th August 2020

I decided to take myself on a longer walk again this morning and actually managed to get out of the house by 8.30 and walked up the road and into Ranscombe and its trees.  The woods were eerily quiet and the smell alone told me that despite what people may think, autumn is well underway.  The rain had dampened the ground and the smell of loam and already decaying leaves was in the air along with the distinctive scent of the Bracken that was just starting to brown around the edges. 

The drought is already causing serious leaf drop and there was the constant patter as they reached the ground after their graceful spiral dance whereas acorns were falling at an alarming rate and I got dinked by several as I made my way through. Rather bizarrely the only two fungi that I found both appear to have poultry in their names (if i have got my id correct!) with Turkey Tails and Chicken-of-the-Woods!


Turkey Tails

Autumn Hawkweed - Hieracium sabaudum
Araneus diadematus

At the Darnley Mausoleum I cut down towards the middle path in Cobham Woods where I discovered the Spotted Flycatchers and was amazed to stumble upon this obviously well visited Sweet Chestnut for the first time.

You could walk right through his ancient heart and at some stage some numpty had set a fire in there and charred his insides but despite all this abuse he was still in full leaf and covered in spiky fruit.  I apologised for the desecration.

I found a good tit flock moving through the Ash trees just on from here and picked up Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps amongst them but as a rule they all stayed way up in the canopy and out of view.

Willow Warbler

Great Spotted Woodpecker

A new type of Persicaria was growing in the damp hollows in the wood and I think that it may be Water Pepper.

Water Pepper - Persicaria hydropiper

A very worn Small Copper

Ferdinandea cuprea

The sky kept alternating from thick grey cloud to blue sky and the temperature kept yo-yoing too but the rain held off as I cut across towards Cobham village and my stop at the village shop and with ham salad roll and cup of tea in hand I worked my way into Jeskyns where the first bench became by 11am lunch stop... 

Two young Buzzards were vocal from back near the village and a flock of 42 Swallows, 10 House Martins and a lone Swift fed over the trees as worked my way through the mammoth roll.  Suddenly the ‘Hobby’ alarm went off from the hirundines and they all came down low and shot of east so I looked west and picked up two Hobbies at stratospheric height hurtling south although they were certainly not after my birds and I could not see what they were after.


My intention was to walk the grassy bit of Jeskyns to look for Whinchats but it was heaving with a zillion people with buggies, babies and grannies in tow so I swung back towards Ashenbank and the path on which I found the Wild Ramsons and associated hoverfly in the spring.  There was not even a trace of a leaf now – just bare ground.  There were lots of fruits on the way with heavily laden Crab Apples and Oaks and shiny pendulous bunches of Guelder Rose berries.

Guelder Rose

Crab Apples

English Oak
I crossed the A2 (passing some nice Tansy clumps and a softly singing Willow Warbler in the process) and turned into Shorne Woods CP well aware that it was likely to be equally bogging with the aforementioned human types but I managed to avoid the worst of it as I wended my way through including climbing the Cardiac Steps to a non-existent view from the high point.  


Lords and Ladies

Red Admiral



There were Migrant Hawkers in every clearing and I counted 88 at least on my route along with Ruddy and Common Darters and a Brown Hawker on one of the ponds near the car park.   

Common Darter

Treecreepers and Nuthatches were encountered but it was unsurprisingly quiet. I will get myself into trouble here by saying that pieces of ancient woodland like this should be visited and enjoyed and used to educate but they should not become a giant cr̬che Рit was hideous.

I followed the bridle path alongside the road into Shorne Ridgeway and into an ally footpath that cuts through to the main road. I was very pleased to discover a pair of Firecrest in some Hollies at this point and I stayed put for a little while and eventually got very good views although the low light was frustrating once again.  It is so good to have this species on my doorstep.


You know you love a tunnel

I followed it up to the See Ho and then down Bowesden Lane, where I had the Firescrests last time before turning into Crabbles Bottom Orchard.  My bramble patch was now quiet but there were several Pollenia and the biggest Sarcophaga I have ever seen. They are amazing when you get up close to them!

Pollenia sp

Sarcophaga sp

Sarcophaga sp
Three Xylota segnis were the first I have seen in quite some time and appeared smaller than the spring ones I saw. Speckled Woods basked and Gatekeepers, Red Admirals and Meadow Browns were still around with dozens of Migrant Hawkers up and down the woodland edge track.

Xylota segnis

Xylota segnis

Speckled Wood

Migrant Hawker

Common Darter

Blue Fleabane seedheads dotted the meadow and Dogwood, Elderberry and Sloe berries hinted further at the change in seasons while I found Spangle, Knopper and Apple Galls on one Oak.

Blue Fleabane




Knopper Galls

Apple Gall

Spangle Galls - they look different to the Upnor ones

I climbed up Crutches Lane slightly laden down by some windfall cooking apples I had ‘discovered’ on my way and then cut across Rede Common in a last ditch attempt to find some migrants.  There were none so I contented myself with checking out the not quite ripe Damsons and Walnuts and watched a few hoverflies and a Tachinid on the Ragwort along with a tiny Small White that matched the size of the one yesterday.

Eristalis arbustorum
Eurithia anthophila

Very Small White

Brown Argus
Red Admiral
It was quite literally all downhill from here to my front door and another nice cup of tea.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Howard nice walk with lots to see, keep the good work up, David and Denise.