Thursday, 31 May 2012

30th May - I Walk Out in the Flowers and Feel Better

The forecast showers and thunderstorms did not arrive and the evening was clear and sunny.  I decided that I would walk around the fields this evening, taking a change from the woods that by evening were quiet.  I took the footpath that went from Blackberry Lane through to Alton Lane but just before Blackberry I came across two young Blackbirds and an adult male.  The adult flew off leaving the youngsters, as I walked up to them the youngsters were a little unsure of me, and as I passed they left the path and hopped up into a nearby holly.  As I looked back the adult had returned to where he had left the young, and appeared surprised that he couldn't see them.  A few calls and the first youngster came out of the bush, and eagerly accepted the food.

From the Blackberry lane footpath  I walked into to the large field.  On the right hand side the horse paddock was full of buttercups, it is the same every year and is featured in the village web site photo gallery.  It is just one large sea of yellow, and it looks a more natural sight than a field of rapeseed.

As I walked up the main track I was alerted by the calls of a Crow, and saw a Buzzard drifting across the field.  The calls of one alerted others and almost immediately three crows set of to mob the intruder.  It is now a common sight, and Buzzards on their own, without their mobbing corvids is the rarity.

The main field the footpath goes through is left to grass and then mown around the end of June for hay.  The field in summer when left to grow becomes a wonderful meadow of wild flowers, that attracts butterflies and other insects.  It is always sad when the field is cut, because it looks wonderful with the different colours in the grasses and the flowers.  Unfortunately the field has been very popular with dog walkers and teenagers, and this means activity away from the main footpath, and as a result the owner is now taking action to ensure that the only route through the field is by the footpath.  Understandably, he is concerned that by walking in other areas the grass is worn down and the hay harvest reduced, his response is to cut the trees and bushes by the side of the fence, and soon I would imagine a fence will be erected to keep walkers to the footpath ensuring the field is not disturbed.  This will allow the meadow to flourish, but also reduce the opportunity to enjoy the flowers and insects.

Over the last few weeks the flowers and grass has grown significantly, and Common Vetch and Ox-Eye Daises can be seen amongst the grass and clover.  I couldn't find any butterflies this evening, a better time to search for them would be around warm part of the day.

Common Vetch

Ox-Eye Daisies
I crossed Alton Lane, and walked past the garden centre, at the gate to the next field, a large clump of nettles was brightened up by the pink flowers of Red Campion pushing through.  It shows the determination of both plants to survive as they both had grown to at least 1.5 to 2.0 metres high!

As I walked in the direction of Willis Lane at least one field was not fenced in, so there may be the chance to explore the meadow later in the summer, for now up to six Goldfinches were feeding on the seed heads of the grasses.

From Willis Lane I crossed over and followed the footpath to Hawthorn.  Once again the nettles were predominant, but this time it was Germander Speedwell that was growing through, producing a blue haze amongst the rich green of the nettles.  The Speedwell again showing determined growth, as typically these plants reach 25 cm tall, but to get to the light these were at least double that in height.

I made my way through the Newton Plantation and then came down the track to the Kitwood bridleway.  A pair of Red-legged Partridge burst out of the long grass by the track.  I wonder if with the farming methods being adopted around here, and the presence of the seed hoppers, we may manage to get Grey Partridge, I hope so.

One animal that seems to have benefited from the long grass left at the edge of the fields is the Hare.  I manage to see them on most visits these days.  This one was lying in the grass enjoying the evening sun.

As I tried to get closer it went from the dozy sleepy stage to leaping up, and running off.  In both photographs you can just see the size of the eye, and the extended peripheral vision it provides.  In total I counted seven as I walked along the bridleway.

From the bridleway I turned up the track to pick up Kitwood Lane, here I found my first flowering foxgloves.  The area had plenty, this being one of two to start flowering, later on there should be a really good show, and I also expect the same in Old Down Wood this year too.

As I walked along Kitwood Lane I checked the fields and the hedgerow bushes.  A Skylark sang above the fields, and another Whitethroat sent out it's rattle song from a hawthorn bush.  I made a mental note to check the fields more often over the next few weeks, if a Quail could turn up outside Bentworth last year, there is always a chance I could hear one around here.

When I set off this evening I considered walking along Alton Lane for a change.  When we run along there I am always checking for birds on the overhead wires, and for one bird in particular at this time of year, however I hadn't seen anything of interest so I decided not to bother.  I wasn't even considering this as I turned from the Kitwood Lane to head down towards the school, but as I looked at the bungalow on the right I couldn't believe it when I saw a bird on the wire.  It was just what I was looking for, a Spotted Flycatcher.  As I lifted my camera it flew up after a fly, but then went into the beech tree, where I saw it wasn't alone, and that there were in fact two.  I waited, watching them fly catching inside the tree, until at last it presented itself in a prominent position to get a photo.  It has been a while since I have seen one, I used to see them regularly when I lived in Essex but this was my first here in Four Marks.

Yesterday was a highlight with the ospreys, but for some reason these little birds really put a smile on my face.  While I was waiting for them to appear I noticed this Hornet hanging from the branch seemingly eating something, it was a way off and in the garden so I couldn't explore more

Still smiling over the Spotted Flycatchers I headed down the road, and almost forgot the reason why I had intended to come this way.  The Copper Beech tree along Brislands Lane stands out at this time of year from the Oak, Beech and Ash.  The view from here is lovely, and shows the beautiful foliage well against the other trees.  Fortunately I remembered in time and was able to take this picture in the evening light.

With May now almost over, we move into Summer.  My list of birds for the year stands now at 77, just three away from my target of 80.  Who knows what will happen next month.

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