Coming out into the fields as I headed towards Old Down Wood, the Skylarks were singing on either side of the lanes, to the right a field of Rape, and on the left greens hoots yet to reveal what crop they are.
On the verge in amongst the yellow Lesser Celandine were patches of Wood Anemone, a delicate white flower with lovely golden stamens.
Just before the entrance to the wood a Wren was singing from the Oak trees. Every cell of it's tiny frame rattling out its song.
Walking into the wood the Pussy Willow was flowering, and back lit by sun against a dark background.
A little further along and another Wren creeping through the bushes.
I headed on towards the Kitwood path, checked once again for the Tawny Owl but there was no sign of it either in the tree or any droppings on the bark. I have to now assume it has either moved on or more sadly either it or its mate has passed away.
On the southern perimeter path there were singing Marsh and Great Tits. Goldcrests called from the Larches, and the Chiffchaffs were singing, with one coming close.
Reaching the main path I headed to the north, with the wide open ride there were many Brimstone about, but as is usually the case at this time of year they would not stop. A darker butterfly flew over my head and as I followed it it settled on the pussy willow flowers. As it nectared it turned the wings to capture the warm sun rays.
I have seen many exotic butterflies all around the world, but for me there is non more exotic than a freshly emerged Peacock in Spring.
At the crossroads a Brimstone dallied over the crisp dry fallen leaves. I stood, watched and waited and finally it settled in the sun taking in the warm sunshine. Unlike the Peacock it doesn't settle with open wings to sun, but angles the closed wings.
Pairs of Long-tailed Tits could be seen searching through the bramble, probably looking for a suitable nesting place. Long-tailed Tits are one of the earliest nesters and build a beautiful delicate dome shaped nest of spiders webs, lichen and moss.
Coming out of the wood at the west end I could see the smoke of a train on the Watercress Line. I stood and waited to see the train emerge from the cutting.
The Watercress Line is currently only running between Alresford and Four Marks while the new bridge is built at the Butts in Alton. It is also a stirring sight to see as the steam locomotive brakes through the trees.
I walked down through the Desmond Paddocks, as I crossed the road to head up Andrew Lane I heard the calls of Mediterranean Gulls above me, looking up I found a lrge flock of Gulls kettling up on a thermal
I estimated about 20 Mediterranean Gulls based on the pure white wings and black hood. The other gulls were mostly Common Gulls. There had been some tractors in the fields, and they were tilling the ground so this probably was the attraction. Here a definite Mediterranean Gull, the first time I have seen one in the area at this time of year, but I suspect they move through as the pre-breeding groups break up on the south coast. fir more on this see here
There has been some considerable work along Andrew Lane, with a large house, probably a grand design being worked on. The path is now quite easy to walk, the ruts all leveled out. I had hoped for maybe a Swallow around the stables but nothing was moving at all.
At the top of the lane I walked along side the field where a couple of Crows could be seen. At the Periwinkle bank I found a couple of Bee Fly nectaring on the Periwinkle flowers
I walked around to check the fields along Lye Way, there are fields of sheep, but no lambs yet. I was hoping maybe for a Wheatear, but apart from singing Skylark above it was devoid of any bird life.
As I walked back I sensed something above me, looking up I saw two Red Kite looking at me!
They both came very close, hanging in the air above, to the extent that I had to reduce the focal length on the camera to get them in to the frame
No matter how many times I have this experience with Red Kite it never fails to excite, they are a fantastic bird and I also never tire of watching or photographing them
I made my way back down the footpath through the field, and popped into the pond, around the back there were Treecreepers, Marsh Tit, and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. Heard but not seen were my first singing Blackcap, a couple of Chiffchaffs, and Stock Doves in the garden of the house nearby.
My attention was taken once again by the pussy willow flowers against the black background of the trees
I made my way back home through Old Down once more, there were plenty of Brimstone, and as I left the wood a Comma flew past to complete three butterflies.
It had been a lovely walk, absence is good for the patch, and it was lovely to be able to see everything waking up in the warm late March sunshine.