Saturday, 7 April 2012

7th April - My Friend You're Black and When You Fly You Are Wild

What a contrast from yesterday, we woke this morning to grey skies, and a damp ground.  I was though encouraged by the the fact that late last night the sky was clear, so if the rain came during the latter half of the night it might have forced down some migrants.  One thing not in my favour was the north west wind, if it had been south westerly it would have been ideal.

The Jays were still around Lymington Bottom, and despite the gloom this bird was was very confiding and I managed to get a nice picture.


Some were pleased with the damp ground, you could see Blackbirds and Thrushes all over the fields.  This gave the opportunity to compare the differences between the Mistle Thrush and the Song Thrush.  The birds themselves would not oblige by feeding close to each other, so I have put together a comparison.  What is not immediately apparent here is that the Mistle Thrush is larger than the Song Thrush, but the main difference is the pattern of the spots on the chest.


Song Thrush                                                                                              Mistle Thrush

Instead of walking down Brislands to Old Down, I decided to take the footpath from Gradwell, and then walk along the hedgerow just in case there were some migrants in.  Blackbirds were in the field with the horses, and a small bird flew past me, on finding it I couldn't get enough to tell if it was a chiffchaff or a willow warbler, but it was clearly a small warbler.

I came around the corner and immediately heard a Willow Warbler singing.  It could not have been the bird I was just watching.  As I came closer it would sing and fly catch.  You could see the yellower appearance of this bird.  This was encouraging, and maybe my hunch was right something has been forced down by the weather.



The fly catching shot was a bonus.  I only realised I had got the Willow Warbler with it's prey when I downloaded the photos at home!

The Nuthatches are deadly serious about using the hole in the tree along Brislands.  This morning I watched them beginning to close the hole up with mud.  If the woodpeckers are around though they will have to include a little cement I think.


Yellowhammer were along Brislands, and at the entrance to Old Down, I was fascinated to see up to six Goldfinches in the bushes, dropping down and feeding on the road.  Unfortunately as I tried to take a shot they were disturbed by some kindly dog walkers.

There was very little along the path into the wood, but Chiffcahffs were singing as usual.  Today I decided to walk as much of Old Down as I could, and in doing so I intended to count the number of Chiffchaffs singing.  There seemed to be more than I had heard before, so maybe there had been more arriving overnight.  In total I counted 18 singing birds, which I find amazing in such a relatively small wood.

I first took the perimeter to the west, and as I passed the fenced area I heard another Willow Warbler.  Why does this happen?  I haven't seen them in the before yesterday and then I start to see more.  I found another in the east area, which means that is three in the wood so far.

At the west end, I looked out over the fields towards the Watercress Line.  Thomas the Tank Engine is about, but I didn't see him today.


Back in the wood, the other noisy singing bird is the Goldcrest, they are all over the place and there song can be heard from the tree tops and even in the lower bushes.  They are very difficult to pin down, and when you think you have the shot they flick away.  It was gloomy today, so I am please with what I managed to get here.


Whether it was the light I am not sure, but the Bluebells appeared brighter today, they are still away off from their full glory, but it is slowly getting there.  Old Down is the known spot for Bluebells in the village, but the other woods around the area also have a really good covering too.



Despite walking most of the trails in the wood I didn't find anything new, I was going to leave the wood at the west end and then head up Andrews Lane again, as I came around the outside trail to the south, I heard the familiar "gronk" of a Raven, it sounded close so it was in the trees.  Coming of the small trail onto the main footpath, I found it in the top of an oak tree, but frustratingly it flew off immediately calling.  I carried on and walked out of the wood and down the paddocks.  As I scanned the fence posts as I usually do, I heard the call again, and a response I turned around and two Raven were in a tree on the edge of Old Down.  One flew off across in front of me and the other headed off to the the other side of the wood.  The one that flew in front of me was calling as it went, and gave me some superb views.





Obviously a Raven, the heavy bill and the diamond shaped tail are clearly visible, the call too is unmistakable.  On a previous post I described the difference between a crow and rook, this corvid is much bigger, and when you see one you wonder why you would ever confuse it with a crow or rook.

I lost it in flight, and wondered where it had gone.  The other was sitting in a tree at the south end of the wood, I could just make it out, but I could hear it calling.

Walking down the field, I could see two large black birds in the field.  Wondering if there could now be three, I walked down the lane to get a better view.  Looking from where I saw the Lesser Black-backed Gull yesterday, I realised these black birds were crows, but I could still hear Raven calling.  Looking across the other side of the lane I found it sitting on a post calling.



I wanted to get a better shot by being closer, however as I walked down the lane it flew off the post into the field with the sheep and lambs.  I had to view through the hedge, but managed this shot .


Leaving the Raven, I headed up Andrews Lane.  The house Sparrows have eluded me every time I come up here.  I love the chatter they make and find the male cock sparrows very handsome birds.  There is a flock of around a dozen here, and I love to watch them.


In the fields I have named the "Shires", there were no migrants despite me trying to turn a Jackdaw into a ring ouzel, a Kestrel flew across in front of me, and I found a Green Woodpecker in the distance feeding on the ground.

In the road side the White Dead Nettles seemed to be all over the place, so I took the chance to get in close on the flowers to remind of those wonderful diagrams I used to do in school.


I decided to take the side path which branches off, and was immediately rewarded with a pair of Willow Tits.  They were calling, and flew into the tree in front of me confirming the identification.  This is now the second pair, the others I found being in Old Down.  This is very encouraging for a species that has been cause for concern.  Never mind they are doing well in my patch.

At the top of the Lane a Blackcap sang again, and the now common Chiffchaff song rang out from both sides of the path.  The rape is varied in the field, in some areas it is in full flower and others it is still to reach it's peak.  As I said the other day, it can look wonderful, but I know there are those that dread the flowering season of rape.


I headed down the footpath that comes out by Old Down Cottage, a couple of weeks ago I was amazed to see a huge flock of Fieldfare here, and today I was even more amazed to find a single Fieldfare in the field.  This is quite a late sighting for me anywhere, and proof that anything can turn up.  As I keep saying you have to be there looking.  Once again the photo is a record shot, as the bird was a long way off.  I had to use the photo to confirm the identification by zooming in on the image on the camera.


By now it was beginning to rain, and I headed for home.  The Ravens had made up for the fact that my hunch was proved wrong, the north wind had probably been the blocker.  A chance to watch Spurs at lunchtime, would I be disappointed?  Probably!

1 comment:

  1. Great shots of the Ravens. I like to think of them as the Barry White of the corvid world..must be the deep kronking! House sparrows aplenty here in the garden, love watching them too, spent an hour watching the males resplendent in their breeding plumage tryng to show off 'tails cocked' to the females, only to get a peck where it hurts!
    Shame about the Spurs..Nature wins every time.:)
    All the Best
    Ian

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