Once again the day started misty, dry but quite cool. By midday the sun came through and burnt off the cloud to produce a beautiful afternoon. We decided to go for a late walk, and I was outside putting on my boots when the Blue Tits and Robins called their alarm calls. I looked up and saw a falcon that I thought at first was the resident Kestrel, but it looked different. Fortunately I had my binoculars with me, and I realised I had a fantastic sighting for the garden and the patch, a Peregrine Falcon. In these situations I usually have to make a dash for the camera, but this time I had it with me to record this fantastic sighting. Here are the best I managed.
Made up after this we headed off to walk around Old Down Wood, we walked into the wood off Brislands and took the first track off to the west. The wood floor was covered in the green leaves of Bluebells, but we were also able to find the first flowering bluebells of the year.
The paths were very dry, and everywhere you looked there were new plants pushing through, Lords and Ladies, Wild Garlic and Wood Anemones are not far off flowering too. Fungi is still around from the Autumn, mainly the bracket types could be seen on the dead trees and fallen logs. Here we have King Alfred Cake Fungi, normally found on dead Ash.
This one is a Dryad's Saddle and can grow very big. These were quite small and looked from below like digestive biscuits
The mist had hung around for most of the afternoon in the valleys despite the sun, and this made for a very atmospheric landscape as you looked across Desmond Paddocks
Everywhere you look at the moment there are Daffodils, in the woods there are clumps of large daffodils that appear wild but have probably found there way there from the cultivated stock. The wild daffodils are quite small, and as we came around the southern perimeter Helen found a clump amongst the Bluebell shoots under a large beech tree. They looked wonderful in the sunshine against the bare beech trunks.
The large finch and tit flocks are still filling the woods with calls and song but are very difficult to locate at the top of the trees. As we stood trying to locate the moving flock, a Sparrowhawk flew past us and into the darker wood. It appeared to be carrying a blackbird in it's talons, as it eent past the calls from the tit flocks chaged to those of alarm. We tried to find it, but there was no sign, we did though disturb three Roe Deer. Further on around the track a Treecreeper gave me my best photo chance yet of this now very common bird!
A Marsh Tit also gave better views as it appeared to be feeding or drinking from a small hole in the birch Trunk
We walked out of the wood and once again a scene from the winter was transformed by the advancing spring. The trees are yet to come into leaf, but the fields have taken on a rich greenness.
Later I drove back to the Lyeway farm area, and was lucky to find a hare that was running through the field. As ever Hares do not like to pose for the camera. This one set off when it saw me, but I managed to get a photo of it as it sped off. From a distance the black tips to the ears help distinguish it from a rabbit. Closer up they are much bigger.
Yellowhammers were singing all along the hedgerows here, and from the telegraph poles. The "little bit of bread and no cheese" being heard all over. I counted 8 birds with at least 4 singing between Lyeway and Brislands. This one was very obliging.
With the sun dropping, I wanted to explore the area around Winchester wood. The bracken and birch looks very good for a roding Woodcock. A walk around did not find one, but over the next few weeks I will try and come back at sunset as I am sure I will find something. Fieldfare were present in a large flock of about 30 birds. They could be heard calling from the tops of the oak trees.
The sun was now well and truly setting, and as a result was producing some lovely colour that only emphasised the beauty of the area. Here are some of the photos I took as the sun set.
|Sunset along Lyeway|
|Sunset over the Watercress Line|