We had hoped to get out yesterday evening for a walk, but the rain came and that was a non starter. This morning it was clear and bright, and Helen and I set off in the early morning. The Starlings were enjoying the early morning sunshine again as we left. There numbers seem to have increased around the village, and I can see them flying around in groups from the office window. These four are in winter plumage, probably young birds.
Someone else enjoying the sunshine was a Red Admiral on the verbena bush on Lymington Rise. There has been quite a few of these really beautiful butterflies around at the moment. they will soon be migrating south as the cooler days approach. We saw eleven individuals on this walk, they are attracted to the ivy that is now in full blossom.
As we walked up Brislands, we could hear the calls of long-tailed tits. They seem to be everywhere at the moment, and I am constantly hearing and seeing them in the garden. This one came out and sat on the power line, not somewhere I have seen them before
Not to be out done this Blue Tit also decided to show itself off on the power line too.
We walked into Old Down by the Gradwell footpath, as we crossed the field it was hard to believe that the field earlier in the week was covered in swallows. There was not a sign of them this morning, just corvids and wood pigeons.
One of the reasons I wanted to go through Old Down, was to see if there were any fungi beginning to emerge. This time last year had proved to be quite fruitful along the perimeter path. Almost immediately once we had entered the wood we found Stinking Russula growing around an old stump. It was covered in slime, and had been eaten, so we assumed the slugs had been through here overnight. It gets its name from its smell, but I didn't bother to see if this was correct.
A little further on along the path we found this Yellow Club Coral Fungus on a small tree stump just off the path. It is a quite common fungus, found mainly in deciduous woods, and looks very delicate with the blunt tipped yellow stalks.
When we came across these Common Puffballs we thought we were in for a good fungi day. They originally have spikes on the fruit bodies, but these soon fall off leaving the black spots. They could easily be overlooked as stones.
After the puffballs the footpath was bare, all that we ended up finding were these Stump Puffballs. They are normally found on dead or fallen birch trees, and when they first emerge as can be seen in the left hand picture, they are white, but they quickly change to the olive brown colour you can see in the right picture.
One feature of autumn is the lovely light brought about by the lower sun. As we looked out from the Kitwood entrance style, the footpath was transformed into a ladder by the greens and browns of the field.
Inside the wood the light was special too, and where the sun got through it would light up the moss, and sorrel leaves on the wood floor. This clump of moss with the flowering stalks looked lovely as the sun caught the tiny fronds.
One of the features of the wood at this time of year is the song of the robin, they seem to be singing everywhere, as once again they establish their winter territory. Its comes across as a sad song mostly because no other bird is singing, and the robin sounds so alone. This individual wasn't singing but was getting rather agitated and was using the footpath sign to show us it was not happy about something, its either that or it was drawing our attention to the fact that is was posing with the holly - too early yet!
We walked around the pond, but only managed to disturb the moorhen family and to hear a few chiffchaffs calling from the trees. We headed towards Kitwood, and then took Kitwood lane. It was quite warm in the sunshine now, and where the sun shone on the ivy, it was covered in insects like this.
On one clump we counted five Red Admirals, and you could also hear the "hueets" of chiffchaffs, but as usual they didn't show for long.
We walked down the lane towards Hawthorn, and then along the road to the "Posts" footpath. I have noticed over the last few walks the large number of Jays about at the moment. As we walked along the road three flew over our heads, and I had seem them almost everywhere this morning. I know this time of year they are active as they collect acorns and other nuts, but for some reason this year the numbers seem to be very high. Maybe this is due to a good breeding season, or an influx from abroad.
As we walked up the footpath we could hear the cries of a buzzard, and looking to the north we saw this individual being mobbed, mainly by jackdaws. From the cries it sounded like a young bird that wasn't to happy being mobbed, it will have to get used to it though.
Once again the "posts" failed to deliver, and we came off the path and walked up through the garden centre. A trickle of swallows made their way across the field, chattering as they went. It would appear that all along the south coast significant numbers have been counted as tehy and their house martin cousins start the daunting journey south.
The rooks were once again calling loudly from the trees in which the rookery was this year. I don't know why but I really like rooks, I love the way when they are vocal they throw their heads up and push their tail feathers out. They have a certain character, and I can watch them for ages. This individual was calling loudly at the others in the tree opposite it, and just kept at it, while the others again ignored it. It would be interesting to know what the purpose of this is.
This Speckled Wood was sunning itself on the tree trunk. I know I keep showing the same butterflies, but there is not going to be many more very soon as the colder weather comes.
We crossed Alton Lane and walked through the field. I was hoping that there would be some activity at the bottom of the field, where I had seen some warblers on Tuesday evening. The sun was on the bushes, and sure enough as we approached I could here the calls from the ivy and hawthorn. This time though the birds were happy to show themselves, and I managed to get these shots. These are all Chiffchaffs, I have poured over the photographs as I wasn't 100 percent sure, some did show a greener plumage, but for me the length of the primary tips identifies them as Chiffchaffs as they are quite short. In total we counted at least five birds here.
The ivy on the bushes as we walked up the footpath was again covered with bees, flies and the off Red Admiral. This Comma looked stunning as it fed, and warmed itself in the sunshine.
A close look at the ivy showed it to have like a sticky secretion, which had a very pungent smell, this was obviously the attraction for the insects, and with the sunshine it produced some lovely shadows and colours
As we walked home, we wondered how many more of the sunny days we would have now before the temperature falls and winter approaches.