Today I set off to walk around the patch for the first time for two weeks, we have been away walking the Cornish coastal path for the first week of June, and then business and the awful weather have kept me away until now. The last time I walked the patch the weather was grey, and today was not a lot different, aside from the wind. It wasn't as strong as we experienced on the cliffs in Cornwall, but it was enough to spoil the morning. The gusts would blow through the trees, and make them move quite severely. It's difficult to convey the movement, but you can see the bend in these trees.
I walked along Brislands, and was pleased to hear Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing. A male Bullfinch called from tress by the cemetery, and then teased me with glimpses as it flew from the trees to hedge and back again. I heard another further down the lane, there are at least four pairs in the area, which is really nice.
It is amazing to see the changes that have taken place in two weeks, the cow parsley flowers that was very evident along Brislands have now all gone, the bracken has grown very tall, and along with the grass, the sides of the lane are completely covered with vegetation. It is really difficult to imagine this is the same place that celandines and sorrel grew about 2 months ago.
The cereal crops in the fields on either side of Brislands are very well developed. I think this is rye, but I am open to be corrected. However I think it makes a very nice composition close up.
A skylark was singing above the field, and I watched one drop down into the field. When they drop it doesn't necessarily mean that is where the nest is, they will run along the ground to reach the nest to confuse anyone watching.
I entered the wood, and walked along the main track. I expected it to be wet, but it wasn't too bad, I was also interested to see what the recent high winds and storms had done, but I couldn't find any significant damage, which was good. Blackcaps and Chiffcahffs were singing, and every so often a wren would rattle out a song, but it was very dark and overgrown. This is a very quiet time, from now until the middle of August the potential for any new birds will be difficult, I will have to keep my eyes on the skies. This time of year I turn my attention to butterflies, but with today's weather I had no chance, the wind and cool conditions keeping them well out of the way. The only real change from when I last walked trough the wood was the Foxgloves, they are now flowering and the spikes could be seen everywhere, forming small "foxglove forests".
Looking closer I found some insects that were flying, as bumble bees were visiting the foxglove flowers
On one of my last visits the Tawny Owl had not been in it's favourite tree, but when I checked on it this morning it was sitting in the usual spot. I didn't disturb it, and left it to snooze, and walked down the track to the tadpole pool. There were a few tadpoles with legs, and it is amazing to think that when we first saw the tadpoles there in March we were concerned it would dry up! The movement in the water wasn't confined to just the tadpoles, on a closer look I found a newt, looking again I could see there was quite a few. Looking closely, I think these were female Smooth Newts, this one was just laying at the top of the water, it was dark, and it is difficult to photograph, but it does show the newt.
It is amazing where newts come from, they turn up in my garden pond, and there is no water anywhere close. As a boy I used to catch newts and bring them home, I remember having a tank of newts and then one morning finding that some how they had all escaped, I was distraught these were my pets, and they were gone. As a result of my loss, I was allowed to have a rabbit, which was my first true pet.
I have mentioned the Larch, Oak , Ash and the Beech trees in Old Down Wood, but I have forgotten the other significant tree, mainly because without the leaves it is easy to pass them over. However now in full leaf they look lovely, and the leaves are wonderful when contrasted against the dark branches. These are the Sweet Chestnut, and come the Autumn there nuts will mix with the Beech, to form a very crunchy carpet.
I left the wood and walked to Swellinghill Pond, the water is once again higher than normal, and the Irises are beginning to look a little tired. I don't know what I expected to find but I walked around to have a look at the periwinkle bank, thinking that maybe a butterfly might have been on the leaves, nothing there, but I did find a family of ducks resting on the bank. These are "dinner jobs" I know, but I though the young ducklings looked so gorgeous, even though they were now in adult feathers. I am amazed to where these have come from, because three weeks ago the parents were on their own on the pond, and there was no sign of ducklings. Despite their feral hybrid background, I still think they are gorgeous.
I walked back towards Kitwood, no flycatchers in the garden, so I continued down past the school. In the gardens, birds could be seen feeding young. Magpies seemed everywhere, and the young now are difficult to distinguish from the adults until they beg for food. I also saw a juvenile Robin being fed in the grounds of Belford House, it clearly was having a wine to the parent for food.
Another bird that could be heard was the Jackdaw, at the five lanes crossing, I knew there was a nest but I was never able to see the birds to be able to get a photo, there were there today, but flew off as I passed. A bit further down Lymington Bottom I saw this bird sitting on a chimney pot, and with the straw sticking out of the netting I suspect there is a nest there too.
The weather was awful today, and I hope that the forecast for the week is better and the wind abates. Hopefully I will be able to get out during the week to check some of the other areas around the patch to see what has changed there too