The first chance to get out again after last weeks quiet excursion. This time I intended an evening walk around the Plain Farm area. The weather had been good all afternoon, and despite the fact that there were some dark clouds to the north I felt confident enough to leave the house without a cover for the camera.
I took the footpath up the main road to the estate and as I did I couldn't help notice the patterns that were now appearing in the harvested field. Where the seeds had grown, they were contrasting with the stubble and soil.
The sun was still out but as I turned around I noticed how dark the clouds had become, against the greens and yellows lit up by the sunshine the sky looked very threatening, surely it wasn't going to rain!
Needless to say it did, slowly at first, but it became steadily heavier and I was forced to take cover by the small chalk quarry opposite the Plain Farm road. I waited here patiently (having learnt this from Costa Rica) for a while, frantically trying to cover the camera with my coat. After a while it eased, so feeling confident that the camera was in the dry I set off up the road towards the farm.
The cows in the field didn't seem to have my confidence as they were all sheltered under the large oak tree, but I was not to be deterred and I continued around to the fields. On thing of note was the presence of a rolled up mist net, someone must be ringing here, and it would be good to find out who. A little further on and the rain returned, and I had to shelter once more in the open barn at the end of the lane.
I intended to walk across the fields and through what was the rape field, however the field had now been ploughed and there was no room left for a footpath, and no sign of a track across the field where the footpath should be. Again I wasn't going to let that beat me, so I lined up the footpath signs with my binoculars, and set off across the field. The rain now had eased, and as I came on to the harder ground where the rape had been I noticed something move ahead of me. Watching closely as I made my way towards it, i suddenly flushed a small bird with an unmistakable white rump. As it flew off I got on to it, and could see it was a Wheatear. It flew off low, then gained height and headed towards a dead tree which I thought it was going to settle in, but it didn't and then flew on and eventually perched high on the edge of an oak tree. I quickly took a photo not knowing what it would reveal, but back home it does confirm Wheatear if not a little distant!
I do not recall ever having seen a wheatear perch so high in a tree before, I am used to seeing them on posts or on the ground, so I walked around the hedge to see if I could get a better view. It had started to rain again so I covered the camera and moved into a position in which I felt I would be able to see it, but I couldn't relocate it. While I looked I heard the unmistakable teu-huhu call. Redshank, but where as I scanned across the trees I saw a distant bird fly off to the north. It called again then dropped out of view. This was totally unexpected, I just didn't expect to find a Redshank here, but the call was classic. If you had told me on January 1st that the 80th bird for the year would be Redshank I just would not have believed it.
Unable to find the wheatear I set off back across the field towards the car. There had been very little about, and the rain had not helped, but I still managed again to find something.
When I got home typically the rain eased and the skies cleared enabling some lovely views of the full "Harvest" moon rising. Helen and her sister Jackie can see "Auntie Viley in the shop" in the full moon , a scene from their childhood, but despite her efforts to show me it is difficult for me to see what she means. Its lovely that this scene will be preserved for ever in the moon, but sad that no one will ever realise.