This morning started very murky with a slight drizzle, and mild. Helen was out for the morning so I was off to Chawton Woods, and then we would do the south path of the square in the afternoon when she came back. From the car park I set off towards the west perimeter and then walked down the main bridleway. There was very little bird song, and it wasn't until I reached the intersection that I actually began to hear birds. There were a few Goldcrests in amongst Coal Tits. The Coal Tits were feeding on the larch cones and were extremely busy as they moved around pulling out the seeds. The light wasn’t good but I managed to get a few shots of them.
From here I headed down the path in the direction of Alton. There is currently quite a bit of forestry work going on in the wood, and there were large tracks visible in the ground where the heavy equipment was moving the logs around, this made some of the tracks very muddy. As I came into an area where there were stacked logs the bird song became very distinct and loud. The activity was in the tree tops, and with the light it was very difficult to identify the birds, but it was clear they were Siskin and Redpoll. At best you would only get a silhouette as you can see from this photo.
The logs had obviously been recently cut, and the smell of pine was wonderful, and with the incessant calls from the birds it made for a lovely atmosphere. The cut logs also provided a nice composition.
The day was changing though, and all of a sudden the cloud burnt off, and the woods were bathed in sunshine. The sun is still quite low, and as a result it provides a lovely glow to the woods.
The bird song had moved towards me and with the sunlight it was now easier to identify the birds. The flocks were of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, but there were also a few Goldfinches as well. They were still very high up in the tree top which made photography very difficult. However these were the best shots I could get, but you can see the difference from earlier in the morning.
I now headed into the wood, walkingthrough beech trees up to the northern edge. There was a flock of Chaffinches feeding on the ground, but they seemed to be upsetting a Mistle Thrush that was call very loudly. I couldn't understand why this would be, and then realised that there was another Mistle Thrush, that was obviously not welcome. These pictures show the posture and aggressiveness of the calls.
A wood at this time of year is still extremely dormant, and you can sense that it needs to wake up. However the sunshine can still pick out the many different colours that exist, but are hidden under the overcast skies of winter. This time of year is comparable with late June for bird life, you are waiting for the new influx of migrants to arrive, so now is time to other aspects such as the colour on the bark of these trees.
I took the perimeter trail that Helen and I had walked in January. There was another Rookery along Roes Down Road that I hadn't been aware of. There were not many nests but it will be interesting to see if it develops any further.
I was fascinated by the change in the fields against the trees compared with the photo I took in January. The green has gone to be replaced by a straw colour. Check it out.
This is the time of year to see Hare, so I continued to check the fields, but with no luck. I did though find a small group of Roe Deer, one stag and two hinds, they drifted apart so I was only able to get two together. Once again as in the video from yesterday you can see the antlers covered in velvet.
Back in the car park, ther were a pair of Nuthatches calling, one came very close and gave some very good views.
From here I drove around the south part of the square, in the Rotherfield estate I found a Kestrel sitting on the power lines, I tried to get closer but it flew off onto the pylon. Suddenly it flew down on to the ground and appeared to be eating an earthworm. It then flew back to the pylon.
Two Buzzards were circling above the woods, and another was seen sitting in the trees along Lyeway lane, with e one seen in Chawton that was four different birds in the morning.
After lunch we set off towards Telegraph lane and out into Weathermore Copse. Once again there were Siskins and Redpoll in the tree tops, as we walked down the track towards Brightstone Lane. Down the track the calls of Buzzards could be heard, two were souring above us and another was calling as it flew low across the field. This was going to be the highlight of the afternoon as in total we saw twelve Buzzards around the patch. Bumble bees were also about with one paying particular attention to Helen, but there were no butterflies.
We walked into Lord's Wood, and again there was lots of Siskin and Redpoll. Buzzard were again calling above and we had five circling above us coming close over the trees.
As we came out of the wood I saw four more above us but on closer inspection found that one was in fact a Red Kite!
Along the Kitwood track the sun was catching the spiders silk as it blew from the branches, my attempts to capture it with the camera was not succesful though. We walked across the fields down towards Headmore Lane. As we walked past the horses a pair of Red-Legged Partridges ran across the field, a welcome addition to the year list.
At the bottom of Kitwood Lane in the garden of the farm there was small pond alive with frogs and frog spawn. Interestingly there was no similar activity in Swelling Hill Pond! This photo was taken through the bush
The one bird to be most noticeable today had to be the Great Tit. Everywhere you went they were calling and moving around in pairs. It would not have been right to not have had a picture of one today, and this was the best one that captured fully their behaviour all day.
We came through Old Down Wood with nothing of note around, as we came up Brislands a male Sparrowhawk upset the Robins and Blue Tits as it flew close to the trees. It avoided my camera, but provided us with a four raptor day, which for this patch is quite impressive.