Thursday, 13 September 2018

Bronze DofE: Final Expedition, North Downs.18th-19th July 2018

Having to be at school at 07:30am again after a long two days in France was never going to be easy. Either way I dragged myself in, still armed with my binoculars and camera just as my mum had not recommended. 

For those who read my blog regularly - thank you - you'll know I had a practise expedition in May in the area around Peaslake. This time we were staying in a different area in the North Downs. We started at Farley Green, and the first notable birds were heard here - a party of Crossbill calling. Plenty more Crossbill to come surely. We soon set off in our group of 7 at just before 10am, aiming to cover the 12km across the area all the way to Etherley Copse in 6 hours. For the first half an hour we covered a good 2km, which was a good start. Few birds were about in the gloom, with the best a family of Stonechat. Carrying onwards butterflies started emerging, and a few more birds singing (Marsh and Coal Tit most common.) Time passed and few other birds were seen and heard, only a few Siskin making the list. A few Yellowhammer and Linnet were about, and just a few warblers and firecrests - still can't get enough of Willow Warblers! Besides this very little else was seen for most of the day - after the quality from the practise expedition in May it was very quiet. We arrived at camp at just before 4pm - most of the evening was spent relaxing and laughing at other late groups (including 3 that got lost taking nearly 9 hours.)

After trying to get some sleep, which largely failed with the Tawny owls playing no part in it, my group declared that it would be better to finish as early as possible by leaving as early as possible in the morning. So we left camp at 06:45, aiming to reach the final destination by midday. Just like the day before few birds were seen, though butterflies were in abundance, especially Ringlets. The day continued just like that, and a friend found me a Great-spotted Woodpecker feather to add to my collection (which includes Osprey.) A moment of typical excitement was a redstart-like bird flying across and landing in someone's garden. Alas obviously a Robin. A few whitethroat were around and a single Lesser Whitethroat. A bird I'm still yet to actually see clearly.
Either way it was a fairly enjoyable 2 days walking, with some great views, and memorable experiences. By the time i got back to school I couldn't stop myself sleeping!
Thanks to Robin Stride for tips on what to see and which areas were good for wildlife. Will be helpful in the future as well!


Marsh Tit - my first picture of one


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