This morning was quite a rarity for a Saturday, it was dry, and the sun was shining, and the forecast was for it to stay dry! I set off to walk around Old Down Wood, and to check out the paddocks. At the junction with Gradwell, a pair of Bullfinch put in a very brief appearance, the male looking gorgeous in the morning sun. Once they had flown off, I could still hear their squeaky call from within the bushes.
Along Brislands Lane another call alerted me, this time it was scratchy and probably a warbler, sure enough a Whitethroat burst into the sky from the hedge in full song. It would not stay still, and eventually flew off behind me. A little further along another appeared on the top of the hedge, this was not the same bird, as I would have seen it come past me. Two Whitethroat was a good start to the morning
The wood was quiet, and I walked down the main path and checked on the Tawny Owl. On Monday we had not seen it at the usual place, but this morning it was sitting in the tree. I could see it watching me as I walked up, so I backed off and let it have it's sleep.
As I came to the cross roads, I heard another scratchy warbler song. Blackcap had been singing in various places, and I checked them because I always think it might be a Garden Warbler. In this case the song was faster, and scratchier. I managed to find it in the birch tree, and sure enough it was Garden Warbler, it was elusive, but I did manage to get a photo.
It is funny, when you don't hear Garden Warbler, but think you do, you wonder if you would recognise the song, but when you hear the song you know it is different, and couldn't be anything else. The Blackcap is more flutier, and melodic. The Garden Warbler is fast and scratchy.
I walked around the north perimeter, looking for more orchids, the Bluebells are now fading, and hopefully being replaced by new flowers, unfortunately there wasn't any, but I did get a nice perspective on the Early Purple Orchids we had found earlier in the week.
I walked out at the West End, and headed down through the paddocks. Swallows were flying around the field, but the Rooks and Crows that had been in the fields over the last few weeks were all gone. I scanned the sky, and found a Sparrowhawk circling over the wood. As I watched it another one came into view, and they then proceeded to display above the trees. I watched them, and then when I decided to try and get a picture I completely lost them. I have no idea where they went, but they were gone!
I walked up Andrews Lane, and the swallows and House Martins could be seen over the horse stables. A Speckled Wood flew along the verge, but refused to settle. I only went as far as the gate to look over the paddock. Rabbits were feeding in the fields, and the usual Magpies could be seen, but that was about all. Behind me a Wren was singing it's heart out from a fence post. So intently was it singing that it didn't mind me photographing it. I really like this picture, the sun highlighting the Wren in front of a moss green background.
I walked back down the lane, and a small bird dropped out of the hedge in front of me. It was a juvenile Robin, it was clearly independent now, feeding on insects on the ground. Robins have nested quite early, and many are probably now onto their second brood. Still to get it's red breast, it looked cute with it's spotted "baby" plumage.
I let it feed for awhile, then it flew off into the hedge, so I walked back through the paddocks and into Old Down. It was still very muddy, but if it does stay dry and sunny over the weekend then hopefully the worst of the mud can be dried out.
The wet weather though has encouraged the growth of the larger plants, and the dock leaves were very conspicuous. With the leaves spread out the sunlight would catch them and provide a warm surface for the insects. In this case the fly is actually on the other side of the leaf, the sunlight making the leaf translucent showing the fly's shadow.
The Ash trees thankfully are still lagging behind in their advance to full leaf, but despite that they still provide a lovely scene when the sun is out and the sky is blue. There is a little group of young trees near to the south perimeter track that always look superb.
It was getting later now, and the woods were turning very quiet which was my cue to head back home. I had expected some butterflies with the sun out, but I couldn't find any, hopefully the weather will be kinder over the next few weeks and we can begin to enjoy the Spring.