Tuesday, 16 October 2012

13th October - So Straighten Up and Fly Right

It was a clear sunny morning, but quite cool.  There were still House Martins around the house, but I don't expect to see them for much longer, they are usually gone by the middle of October.  I was out early and as I came around the corner at Lymington Rise a single Red Admiral was already using the ivy leaves to warm up in the sunshine.  The sky was a very deep blue, and as I walked by the church the rising sun was catching the weather vane, and I was reminded of a similar scene back in January when I first set out on the year's quest.  This time two Collared Doves were sitting on the vane.

I walked up Brislands, and as usual the Jays were busy flying across the lane, and in an out of the oak trees.  I decided to check the bushes around the skateboard park.  The last time I had been here it had been a hive of activity, and with the early morning sunshine I felt there might be the chance of finding something.  The first thing I came across was a quite impressive fungi by the side of the path.  It must have grown over night because I can't believe if anyone had been at the park the day before they would have left it alone.  It is a Common Stinkhorn, and had grown to about six inches high.  I am certain they won't be allowed to stay long at this site!

There was quite a bit of activity, but this was mainly calling Magpies and Jays.  I could hear a Bullfinch calling, but it took a while to locate it.  Eventually it came out into the sunshine to show off the gorgeous pink red chest.  It sat in the sun, and i could hear it calling.

As I watched it, I noticed that there was in fact two birds, both males, in the tree, I can't recall seeing two males together like this before.  The other bird is tucked away to the upper left in this photograph.

Other than the bull finches there was little else about, and I decided to walk off leaving them continuing to make the weak "phew" call.

As the sun warmed up the trees along Brislands there was a lot more activity.  Robins were singing, and Blue and great Tits were active in the oak trees.  I watched this Nuthatch fly in and then move along the branch looking for somewhere to wedge a nut it had bought with it.  Unfortunately just before I took this picture it dropped it, so was off looking for something else.

There was plenty of movement around the hedges and bushes as I set off across the Gradwell footpath into Old Down, but this was mainly Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Linnets.  There was the odd call from a Chiffchaff, but after a wait to see if it would show, I kept going.  I crossed the field, and decided to take last week's walk in reverse, so I skirted the wood on the outside, and headed across the field towards Kitwood.

A Buzzard flew out of the trees on the edge of the wood and circled around me.  At first I was looking straight into the light, and could only see the silhouette, then as it came around out of the sun I was able to get a good view.

When I had reached half way across the field, I looked back at Old Down Wood.  The sun was gaining height now, and the light had become a little more watery than the golden glow of dawn, nevertheless the wood looked splendid, and I hope to get some lovely colours in the leaves by the end of the month, I just hope I don't miss it.

As I crossed the field by the road I became the subject of attention from the sheep, who obviously thought i was going to feed them.  They seemed to come from everywhere towards me bleating loudly.  Having escaped the sheep, I set off down Lye Way.  I stopped at the gate to the large field that looks over to the east, last week this was full of Wood Pigeons but today there were hardly any.  The Buzzard though was sitting in the same spot on the pylon.  Another was on the ground in front of the pylon, and I watched it fly up.

It perched above the other Buzzard for a short while then flew off up on to the wires, and that was where I left them occasionally calling out.

The wires and pylons were proving quite popular this morning.  This Yellowhammer was one of four that were on the wires.  They had been absent for at least three months, now I am beginning to see them frequently.  This one showed off the lovely yellow plumage in the sunshine, and against the azure blue sky that only autumn seems to bring.

As came up to the farm, I could hear a couple of Blackbirds scolding from the trees and a Chaffinch "pinking" away.  I walked around the trees in the hope that they had found something in the ivy, but I couldn't locate anything, so I decided to walk on.  The small pond was not quite in the sunshine, and there was nothing showing.  I walked alongside the field towards Andrews Lane. A Chiffchaff called from the hedgerow and briefly showed as it came out to fly catch.  The ivy was now in full sun, and this was a big attraction to the butterflies.  On one patch I found seven Red Admirals sunning themselves and feeding, and there was also a couple of Commas with them, but they seemed to favour the bramble and nettles.

I stopped to check the larches along Andrews Lane, but there was no activity other than yet another Buzzard calling form the nearby pylon.  They seem to be everywhere, and it is very hard to think that back in the late eighties to see a Buzzard away from the west country was a major event.  In fact I still recall the excitement of finding my first buzzard on my patch in Essex back in 1993.  Now they are commoner than Kestrels around here, and I would think from the increased numbers around this autumn they have had quite a good breeding season. 

Despite the frequency of sightings, I do not tire from watching them as they soar around the fields and woods, birds of prey add something to the country side, an apex predator evokes the drama of life being played out close to home.

As I always do along this lane I checked the paddocks the hedges and the fences away across the fields.  Ever since I found the spot I had hoped for some migrants here, but so far I only have the spotted flycatchers to show for the diligence.

At the house on the corner of the lane, a Pied Wagtail called from the roof top.  Over the last few weeks the numbers and sightings have increased as migrants pass through and flocks build up at roosting time.  This one was clearly enjoying the sunshine.

By now the morning was almost over, and things had quietened down.  As I walked up the paddocks towards Old Down, a couple of swallows flew through, and the rooks were calling from the fields as they flew around, but other than these it was quiet.  I decided to walk around the wood, and was surprised to see a female Roe Deer in the middle of the field at this time of day.  She watched me walk around the wood, and then just continued to graze showing no concern for me

I decided to walk into the wood, the perimeter path wasn't too bad, but as I came around to the crossroads it became very wet and muddy.  I decided to see if the owl had returned to the pine tree, and made my way through the bracken off the path.  There was no sign so I continued to walk on, and found what looked like a deer track, and some holes that looked like they may belong to badgers.  This may have to be somewhere to plant the camera trap next.

Back on the footpath I walked around the south perimeter path, checking for fungi of which there was none.  I am not sure where they have gone this year, there isn't the show we found last year.  I then re-traced my steps along the Gradwell footpath, and Lane to home.  Incredibly the ivy on Lymington Rise was covered with Red Admirals, I counted at least eleven, and around the corner there were at least three more feeding on the yellow flowers of what looks like a verbena.  I wonder how many days we have left of seeing these beautiful butterflies?

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