Wednesday, 2 May 2012

1st May - You Look Just Like Sylvia

The heavy rain of the morning gave way to clearing skies in the early afternoon, and lovely clear blue sky and sunshine by the evening.  It was hard to believe it was the same day.  As the rain fell in the morning I noticed four House martins flying above the houses in Reads Field, they seem to have returned now, as I saw them yesterday too.  They have yet to start inspecting the nests though.

Making the most of the weather I set off to enjoy an evening walk.  As I walked down Lymington Rise I noticed that a pair of jackdaws have taken up residence in one of the houses chimney pots, it would appear this is the only pot without a cover.  There has been a a flock of about a dozen Jackdaws around the house during the winter, but they never venture into the garden or use the feeders.  I have seen them in gardens, and I have seen them empty feeders, so it is difficult to understand why they don't come in to mine, not that I am sure they would be too welcome.

The leaves are now well advanced on the beech trees along Brislands Lane, and paint a lovely picture against the blue sky

The other types of tree there are Oak and Ash, now usually the oak is always a little more advanced with it's leaves than the Ash, but this year the Ash appears to be catching up.  The old saying is "Oak before Ash we're in for a splash, Ash before Oak we're in for a soak".  I hope the Oak speed up!

The verges along Brislands are now covered in Dandelions, and a small white butterfly drifted past.  When it settled I was able to see that it was a Small White which posed eventually and allowed me to get a decent shot.

The woods were once again very muddy, what ever drying had taken place on Monday had once again been replaced with more water.  The tree was still lying across the main trail, so I took the perimeter track.  Instead of taking the main path I followed some of the deer trails, the Bluebells and ransoms looking lovely in the dappled sunlight, and then looking up the new leaves appearing translucent against the sun and the blue sky.

Coming out at the West End I walked through the paddocks to Andrews Lane.  On one side of me there were very young calves, they were all lying down close to the fence and footpath, and as I approached mother would get agitated and moo a little, the calves didn't seem to care.  In the field I walked through lambs were everywhere, a pair of black lambs were very inquisitive, showing little concern as I walked by.  I noticed at the style at the bottom of the path the entrance for dogs had been blocked off.  Difficult one this, I know dogs can annoy the sheep, but it is still a right of way and as long as the dog is under control, it should be allowed to use this path.

Once again Brimstones were everywhere, an one posed again quite nicely for me on one of the many Dandelions that are brightening up the road side and fields.

Swallows had been flying around the sheep and cows, and as I walked up Andrews Lane, I disturbed three from the wires above the road.  They flew around the houses before one came back and settled back on the wire and chattered away.

Walking up the lane, the Swallows were joined by a couple of House Martins, and they could all be seen flying low over the paddocks.  In the field around the rabbit warren there was four magpies, and a Buzzard soared above the area, while the rabbits fed out in the open.  As I watched I noticed a black and white bird drop into the grass nearby, it flew up and into a small apple tree, and I could immediately see it was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker.  It looked so out of place at the base of the small tree.

At the top of the lane, more butterflies were present, I saw two male Orange-Tips, a Small White and a Peacock that was sitting in the sun on the damp mud.

As I came past the farm buildings, there was some frantic activity in the hedge, and a Goldcrest suddenly appeared in front of me.  Normally these are so quick to move around the trees, but this time it just sat there and allowed me to come quite close and get what is probably my best photo of a Goldcrest.

A little further on there was there was a Nuthatch calling from the trees by the farm building, it amazes me where a Nuthatch will turn up around the patch, they are very common, and can be heard if not seen almost everywhere.

I set off down Lyeway with Skylarks singing above me, and Robins and a Blackcap singing behind me.  I stopped as I usually do at the entrance to the field where I believed I would find Dotterel.  Unfortunately the field has now a significant growth of what looks like cabbage or brussel sprouts, and as I looked at it I thought that chance of finding one has gone now.  Needless to say I scanned around and found nothing but as I was about to walk on a scratchy song caught my attention.  I stopped, and listened again.  On the second hearing I knew exactly what it was, and walked back along the road to get closer.  I managed to see it briefly on top of the hedge before it dropped down and flew alongside the hedge out of sight.  It was a Whitethroat, not something found here that often, as we don't have the scrub that they normally like, the hedge being typical, but not dense enough.  After the Swallows and House Martins this is the first real migrant to drop in, and I wasn't going to let him get away. 

Every so often there would be a burst of song, followed by the alarm call, as soon as i saw it, and got the camera ready it was off.  this happened many times as I walked up and down the road, finally it flew off across the rape field and bizarrely perched on the top of the rape.  It stayed there for a while, and I took my record shot.

Resigning myself to the fact that this was probably the best I would get I walked on.  However a little further on I heard the song again, and the Whitethroat flew over me and into the hedge, this time it seemed more confiding, and eventually came out of cover and sang from the top of the hedge, before flying up to the wires and pole where it continued to sing.  Definitely a Whitethroat!

Satisfied, I walked along the footpath to the pond.  As I turned onto the path by the field that crosses the house garden, the edge of the field was covered in Dandelion heads, which against the sun looked magical.

 I had a little difficulty finding the path near the pond but got there in the end.  The Mallard pair were on the water, and a Buzzard was flushed from the tree at the back.  The water level is even higher than it was last Friday, and I walked through the mud and back on to the road.

At the entrance to the wood, a pair of Long-tailed Tits called loudly from the Elder, and briefly appeared in front of me, they were feeding as a pair, so I don't think they were looking after a family.

I walked to around the southern edge of the wood, and stopped to pursue a pair of Marsh Tits that were calling from the bush at the edge of the wood.  Playing tape to them brought them very close, and they were extremely vocal

I walked along the deer track past the small pond where there had been frogspawn earlier in the year.  With the recent rain the pool was much bigger and almost covered by pond weed, there was no sign of the tadpoles. 

I walked to check on the Tawny Owl, and hoped that I would be able to video the bird in the tree.  As I approached the owl obviously had been watching me and flew off to the other tree it seems to like.  The video is short, but you can see the owl, plus you can hear the alarm calls as it breaks cover.

Leaving the wood at the Gradwell path, Swallows were flying from the horse paddock, and out across the cereal field.  One individual had no tail streamers which at this time of year is unusual, and I am not sure how it would have lost them.

I have tried to include some cryptic titles that relate to a highlight to each post in this blog, some I think are easier than others to work out, today's is a little harder, so if you know where it comes from and what it is about let me know, the clue is to look at all of the recent posts to get an idea of how I am thinking.


  1. is it syvia's mother said.....the calf????

  2. Thank you for the photo's of swallows, now I know which birds are flying around in the horses field. I saw the tawny owl yesterday in his/her usual tree. I watched through binoculars so as not to disturb him/her. Still not able to locate a buzzards nest though.

  3. what a treat this morning when walking my dog in old down to see a roe doe and very young
    fawn as it followed mum through the brambles!!!!! I had a really good view of it both with and without binoculars. wondering whether or not to put a notice on a tree nearby to warn other dog walkers to keep their dogs close when walking past that patch but then would that encourage interference?

    1. Jill

      That is really lucky, we saw a single Roe Deer on Monday that looked pregnant so maybe it was the same. I wouldn't put up notices, it may attract the wrong action. My daughter saw a Barn Owl yesterday as well so I am missing out!

      The reference to Sylvia is part of the latin word for whitethroat, and the words come from a song by Pulp.

    2. I have been amazingly lucky today as had very good viewing of red kite over rotherfield this afternoon, then saw a slightly older fawn in a field up st.Andrews lane and the fox with the white tip spent a long time eating up the spills from the horses feed buckets just before dark.


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