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A remnant of the formerly much more extensive Surrey heaths, Frensham Common consists of undulating lowland heath with gorse scrub and bracken and there are two artificial lakes adding to the ornithological interest.
Despite being very popular with visitors the common attracts an interesting range of birds at any time of year and provides birders with an opportunity to see various coastal species difficult to see elsewhere in Surrey.
Great Crested Grebe breeds on Frensham Great Pond and various duck species occur in winter. Mallard, Common Pochard and Tufted Duck are the most numerous with small numbers of Common Goldeneye and other species, often including Ruddy Duck and Mandarin Duck. The scarcer grebes also occur and even divers appear some winters. Water Rail is present all year but is more easily seen in winter.
The Little Pond has extensive reedbeds with good populations of Reed Bunting and Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler breeds in smaller numbers but is a common passage visitor. Waders of various species but especially Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover, are sometimes seen on passage along with occasional terns. Osprey is an annual passage visitor. Bearded Tit and Great Bittern are irregular winter visitors. One of the few gull roosts in Surrey away from the Thames is located here, mostly Black-headed Gull with a scattering of other species.
As well as the commoner birds of the heath and scrub such as Linnet and Yellowhammer, there are Wood Lark, Tree Pipit and Stonechat in summer. A number of warblers are present including both whitethroats, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Willow Warbler with a small number of the rare Dartford Warbler.
To the south of the Great Pond are some alders which regularly attract Siskin in winter as well as resident species such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit and Willow Tit. Frensham Common was once a virtually guaranteed site for Great Grey Shrike in winter, but although one is often present they are not as regular as in former times. Other winter hunters of the heath include occasional Hen Harrier and Merlin. Common Buzzard appears irregularly, often in summer.
Rarities are occasionally recorded with a singing male Great Reed Warbler present in May 2002.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Grey Heron, Mandarin Duck, Mallard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Eurasian Curlew, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Common Tern, Black Tern, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Lark, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Common Wren, Dunnock, European Stonechat, Eurasian Blackbird, Song Thrush, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Common Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Bearded Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting
As the common is very popular with visitors it is important to get there early, However, parking can be a problem as the car-parks may be closed until 09.00am.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
Frensham Common can be reached on the A287 south from Farnham, turn left into Priory Lane and on to the car-park at the Little Pond. Paths lead from here over the common and also from a car-park on the north side of the Great Pond reached by staying on the A287 until the turning on the right signposted to Frensham Great Pond.
Content and images originally posted by Steve
Well worth a visit, even thought the variety of species might not always be that great.
- Easy to get to; good variety of birds; chance of something unusual (by Surrey standards). Toilets/snack shop open in summer at least.
- None really. Can be a bit overcrowded in summer.