Friday, 20 January 2012

14th January - The First Frosts

Overnight had been clear and cold, and we awoke to quite a hard frost, but with lovely blue skies and a glowing dawn sun.  Helen was off for the morning and I took the opportunity to explore the patch.  I spent a little time around the trees at the bottom of Reads Field, trying to find the Tawny Owls, but there was no sign of them, however the ivy around some of the trees was extremely thick and there could have been anything in amongst it.

I intended to spend some time in Old Down Wood, and then walk around the pond, and across Kitwood coming back across the fields to Blackberry Lane.  The light was wonderful, and with the blue sky, and frost it was a very magical morning.  The sunlight also caught the weather vane on top of the church, and produced this lovely image.

The moon was still out, and I took the chance to photograph it again, the trees in the foreground giving some perspective. 

As I walked up Brisland’s Lane a Song Thrush was in full song, and allowed me to approach quite close, I love the way the morning sun glows on the throat.  The cold start had clearly had no impact on the fact that more song birds are singing to claim territory much earlier this year.

 There was quite a bit of activity around the cemetery, with Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tits calling from the oak trees.  A blackbird was also getting quite worked up, and from behind a Robin was alarm calling.  Hopeful it might be an owl, I stopped to investigate only to find that the cause of the unrest was a pair of Jays.  They are beautiful birds, and I have wanted to get a good picture for some time, but they are not easy to approach, and these two were no exception.  Finally one stopped long enough to allow me the opportunity, and I was quite pleased with the result!

The sun was now beginning to rise above the trees and hedgerows, and providing some lovely scenes on the frosty fields and hedgerows, here are some examples:

Looking East from Brislands Lane

Brislands Lane

South towards Winchester

Rather than go straight into Old Down Wood, I walked on a little bit as Brisland’s begins to make the descent down towards North Street.  There were some more Jays calling from the tops of the trees, but what attracted me was some tapping.  It didn’t take too long to find the source,a Great Spotted Woodpecker was really hammering into a dead stump, so much so that for once it wasn’t interested in me and allowed some good views. 

You could see the wood coming off as it chiselled it’s way into the wood.  A pair of Nuthatches starting calling and they were joined by a large flock of mixed tits and finches and they all moved through heading off towards Old Down.  Finally the woodpecker became aware of me and flew off calling.  
The entrance to the wood was caught in the low sunshine, and all along the footpath was bird activity.  Robins singing, tits moving through and at the corner the woodpecker appeared again, along with another nuthatch.

 I walked through to the crossroads, and then headed north, to circle round and pick up the track that runs around the outside of the wood.  It was here last autumn that Helen and I found quite a good collection of fungi, but I was looking to see if I could find redpolls, in the tops of the larches.  It had been quite quiet, but as I walked on I could hear bird calls from the tree tops, and see small flocks flying around.  I decided to walk off the track and into the wood, checking the larch at the top, I found groups of Goldfinches, they were also extremely vocal.  These flocks would suddenly come together and there must have been well over a 100 present.  With a bit of patience I was also able to make out Lesser Redpolls and one or two Siskins.  As a result of this excursion into the centre of the wood I came across an area of water that may be interesting to keep an eye on for the future.  While you couldn’t really call it a pond, I am sure it attracts some wildlife to drink.
The "Hidden Pond"

I came out of the central area onto the main footpath, and decided to take the track to the fence to look out across the paddocks.  There was still frost about but where the sun had reached the frost had gone, and was covered with a sizeable flock of Black-headed and Common Gulls.  They were clearly feeding so maybe the frost and warm sun had forced worms up into the grass.

I left the wood and headed off towards Swelling Hill Pond, who knows a woodcock may have taken refuge.  I walked around the pond twice, but no sign of my target.  I did find a couple of Wrens by the water’s edge, and a flock of Goldcrests in the pines at the back.  The pond itself was frozen, but one of the ditches to the side had open water, and I was extremely excited to flush out a Moorhen! 

Walking back to the car park area, a very confiding Nuthatch was feeding in the ivy.  It seemed to fly into the ivy and then come out and hammer away at something on a branch close by.

After ensuring there was nothing in the surrounding bracken and bushes i headed off towards Kitwood Lane.  Fieldfare flew over from the direction of Lyeway Farm, and could also be found in the usual spot where Kitwood Lane bends.  At the farm the cattle were in the shed, and were joined by Robins, Dunnock and a Pheasant.  A white dove raised my hopes momentarily of Barn Owl, but I was soon brought back down!  As I turned away from the shed, a Grey Heron flew over, where it had come from I don’t know, I have never seen one at Swelling Hill pond but who knows.  A call from above also alerted me to a pair of skylark flying over and heading off towards the fields in Lyeway.

Raptors had been in short supply all morning, I had hoped for a kestrel, but there was no sign, but as I reached the edge of the woods a Buzzard called, came from above the trees and headed off towards the south.  I walked back up Willis Lane, and then took the footpath around the back of the garden centre.  The Rooks were very active in the trees there, and were calling and displaying in pairs by the nests, if this weather keeps up I suspect they will be breeding soon.  From here there was little more to note.  It had been an enjoyable morning, and a good start to the year.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.