I have finally managed to complete going through and sorting the pictures from Costa Rica, and have started to update the "Away From Four Marks" blog, go here for the first installments.
The weather all day has been glorious, so we managed to get a late afternoon walk in some lovely sunshine. Once again I decided the hedges would probably be the best areas to check out, so we set off down Brislands to walk around the wood. We could hear a tractor as we walked past the fields, but couldn't see where it was, gulls flying around gave the location away, and then it appeared from the dip. We stopped to watch the gulls and it soon became clear there was more than one tractor, as two others appeared. The tactic here was for two tractors to plough, and then the original tractor seemed to be laying seed behind them. We shall have to wait and see if this was the case. The scene through made for some nice pictures against the freshly mown hay fields in the distance.
The gulls were following the ploughing tractors, I managed to identify a few immatureHerring Gulls, one or two Common Gulls, and a single Black-headed Gull.
We left the tractors, and set off around Old Down Wood on the outside. On Wednesday this had proved to be quite fruitful, but today it was very quiet. There was hardly any butterflies except for one or two Large Whites, and no sign of the dragonflies. From within the wood we could hear a Raven calling, it seemed to be coming from the middle of the wood, and the call would vary, but every so often there would be the characteristic "gronk".
There was a small party of Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits that moved quickly along the outside of the wood, but that was the only thing of interest as we walked around to the west end. A quick scan around here revealed nothing, there was not even any swallows or martins moving, it was extremely quiet.
Rather than walk down to Ropley we turned into the wood and into the dark. It was also quite pleasantly cool after the very warm evening sun. Along the side of the footpath, the grasses look very weak and pale, and there was no sign of any flowers, six months ago this area was bursting with colour from the celendines and wood anenomes, but now it is just dark and dreary. We paused a little way down the path to look across the field. The view here is wonderful, and as we looked across the fields a lone Buzzard drifted effortless away to the east.
As the trees opened out the light from the sun was able to get through to the floor of the wood, and in places this would catch the ferns, and illuminate the darkness.
We decided to walk around the north perimeter to the Gradwell footpath entrance, we haven't been here for a while, and the trees are more open here. Another group of tits moving about in an oak tree provided some interest, and they were joined by a Nuthatch and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Looking around the ferns and bracken were covered in spiders webs, the sun picking out the silk lines. This spider had built the web amongst the bramble and bracken, but had a single strand of silk coming down from a tree, it must have been at least five metres long. It reminded me of the Golden Orb spiders webs in Costa Rica, but thankfully this spider was no where near as big.
I think the spider is Araneus diadematus, if so it is one of the most common and best known orb weavers. It is identified by the distinctive white cross on the abdomen, but I can't quite make it out on this photo. They are common in woodlands, and gardens, and build circular orb webs and can then be found either sitting at the center of the web facing down or in a retreat at the end of a signal line a short distance from the web itself.
Any rustle or call would attract our attention as it was quiet, and we stopped to try and find the owner of a call, only to be surprised by a Buzzard that either came from the tree, or flew into the wood. As it flew past us it dropped something. We thought it might have been prey, but couldn't find what it was so maybe it had knocked a branch off. The Buzzard though seemed to want it as it watched intently from a tree quite close to us.
That was the end of the excitement for the evening, and we made our way out of the wood and onto the footpath. Once again the scene around the four trees has changed and I had to capture it, I now have quite a few of these, and it is fascinating to see the changes through the year.
We made our way back home without any incident. A nice walk, but again very quiet.