Saturday, 17 November 2012

17th November - The Birds are the Keepers of our Secret

The day started with a new visitor to the garden, but not one that I had wanted.  We have been here 19 years, and have had feeders in the garden for that amount of time, and this visitor has never come anywhere near us, but this morning it was on one of the bird feeders when I came down to the kitchen.  The identity of this visitor?  The dreaded Grey Squirrel.

By the time I had got the camera it had left the feeder, but you know that they just don't forget.  When we lived in New Jersey they were a constant challenge, and invariably they won.  I know this one will not forget, it will be back I'm sure, at least the ground feeder and cage will now prove to be invaluable.

It had rained overnight, but by 9.00 am it was dry and brightening up.  I had the day so set off to see how much of the patch I could cover.  I walked down Brislands, and came across a Jay by the entrance to the recreation ground.  It sat on the fence and preened in between watching the ground below it in the cemetery.

Eventually it dropped down and foraged amongst the grass, they really are a very beautiful bird with the azure blue wing patch and the crimson pink plumage.

In the horse paddock, a kestrel sat on the temporary fence.  Blackbirds seemed to be unhappy about something, but I wasn't sure if it was because of the kestrel, or something else.  In the paddock there were two Song Thrushes feeding with the blackbirds that were not upset.  The kestrel decided to leave the fence and fly up into the the hawthorn tree by the edge of the field, and this allowed me to get a bit closer and to get a better shot.

It stayed in the area, and I saw it a little bit later as I walked down Gradwell.  At the horse paddock I disturbed a Green Woodpecker, and it flew across the paddock and settled on one of the fence posts at the back of the field.  All year I have scanned these posts and this was the first bird I had seen on them.  I took this shot just to record the event.

Green Woodpeckers will stay on a post for ages, and I have often thought this must be really boring for them.  As I walked along the path towards Old Down I had hoped it would stay and I could get a better view, but it decided that it was boring and flew off.  A buzzard was in the ploughed field, probably chasing earthworms, and there was a small flock of linnets flying around as well.  The footpath is there, but only as a result of walkers crossing the field, it was very wet and sticky as I made my way into Old Down.

The Four Trees once again looked different so I took the picture to add to the collection.

Taking the perimeter path I came across a size able flock of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests.  I stopped to watch them, but they never gave a clear opportunity for a photograph.  I made my way to the Kitwood footpath, the path was there, again as a result of walked, but very faint.  I headed back into the wood and decided to see if the Tawny Owl was in its usual tree.  I was in luck, it sat there in the pine watching me walk up.  I quickly took some photographs and then left it in peace, it was wonderful to see it back.

Leaving the owl, I took the very wet path past the tadpole pool to the main footpath, from here I headed into the wood, and then down towards the west end.  I had hoped that after finding the tit flock there would be some more birds, but it was very quiet.  As I came out of the wood at the west end the sun came out and lit up the woods beyond the Watercress Line.

I walked through the Paddocks, and it the fields beyond there was a small group of gulls.  I checked them closely, because last week there had been a significant flock of Mediterranean Gulls reported from Cheriton, but these were all Common Gulls.  I tried to get closer but they decided that they would fly off.

From the paddocks I walked up Andrews Lane, again very quiet, but I did come across a Nuthatch calling from the top of a Hawthorn tree, after a very quick battery change I finally managed to get the shot.

When I paused to check the Larch trees at the top of the lane, looking back the sunshine, and the dark clouds produced a lovely contrasting picture.

From the top of the lane, I walked around Lyeway, and headed towards Plain Farm, as I came out onto the main road there was a group of seven Blackbirds in the field, these were quickly joined by at least five more from the hedge.  All of a sudden blackbirds seemed to be everywhere.  I walked through the hedge and checked the field.  At the edge of the field yellowhammers were all over the field, and I watched them as they went from the hedge to field.  I estimated that there must have been well over 30 birds.  In amongst them I managed to find one female Reed Bunting, and four Skylarks.

Walking along the lane I could hear Redwing flying over, as I got nearer to the barn, I managed to find one calling from a bush.

There were Chaffinches around as well, and I took another picture with what I thought to be a chaffinch, but when I got home and looked closer I found it was actually a male Bullfinch, they seem to get everywhere.

The hedgerows and bushes along Lyeway still have leaves, and as a result still have some colour.

I took the short cut along the footpath to Charlwood Lane, and as I got close to the road, I heard the familiar call of the Green Woodpecker, checking the trees I could see nothing, and then it appeared from the blind side of the telegraph pole.  At last a good picture of the very elusive Green Woodpecker.

Coming on to the fields at Plain Farm more redwing flew over calling.  I thought at the time how there have been good numbers of redwing so far this autumn, but as yet no Fieldfare.  But then as I thought it I saw a flock of thrushes flying towards me, and as they came over they called with the unmistakable Fieldfare call.  There were nine of them, and they kept going leaving me with only this record flight shot of two.

A little further along two Mistle Thrush were in a dead tree, and along the lane the Linnets were once again collecting on the wires, moving from the fields and back again.  In this picture they look like music notes, I wonder what the tune is, "The Birds"?

As I walked along the lane I could hear bullfinches calling, and I would flush them out of the hedge, only for them to fly a short distance in front of me.  I counted four males, and three females, which is the largest count so far.  When they flew into the hedge they would bury themselves into the bush not giving much of a view.

I checked out the tree in the field, but there was no sign of the reported Little Owl.  A little further on a Kestrel was perched on the wires.

They seem to spend as much time watching fro prey from perches as they do hovering, but then to prove me wrong this one was off and flew over the field behind us to hover!

The tree I had just checked for Little Owl, looked quite impressive against the grey clouds as I walked down the lane.

I had looked once again for Grey Partridge, prepared this time with the camera ready, but they were not there, and the feeder had been moved.  As I came down the hill to the main road, I saw a group of partridges, but was disappointed to find these were just Red-legged Partridges.  The disappointment though was tempered when I realised that there was in fact ten present which is the largest count so far.

I walked around the estate and apart from a Buzzard it was very quiet.  From here I set off for the beech wood at Charlwood.  I searched Winchester Wood for Woodcock, but failed miserably to find one.  Back along Lyeway Lane the Yellowhammers were all over the place.  They would gather together in the trees.  This was a group of twenty two birds.

I now walked back towards home along Lyeway Road.  As usual I stopped to look at the field, but for once there were no buzzards and it was very quiet.  As I turned to walk on I disturbed a bird from the tree next to me, and as I got on it I realised that it was a Sparrowhawk, and had been sitting in the tree as I looked across the field.  It flew across the field to the west, and finally settled in the trees about a quarter of a mile away.  I took this shot, but couldn't help wondering what I could have got.

A little further on I disturbed another kestrel, and it flew up into the tree above the road.  I could hear a car coming, but was able to get this photo, probably the best of the day.

From here I walked around Kitwood and made my way home on circuitous route.  I had been out for over six hours, and it was nice to have been able to concentrate on the birds today.  When I got home I was pleased to see that the ground feeder had been used, lets hope the squirrel keeps away tomorrow.


  1. At one, can't beat a bit of Elbow! Great lp.;)Just been up the Meon to The pub with no name, was driving so only managed to catch a few sights, always a pleasure driving up your way though...

    1. P.S. Hope to see an end of year compilation comparing the 'Four trees'all against each other through the seasons?

    2. Hopefully we will see them at the end of the month, we saw them at Jodrell Bank in June, it was very, very wet!

    3. Shame it was wet at Jodrell..what a backdrop! They are one of the best bands live , Guy has such a rapport and confidence with the crowd. Saw them at pompey guildhall a few years ago..magical night!

  2. Amazing, we must think alike. It is work in progress a video with them fading into each other, need some more snow though!

    1. Interesting! As you are a music and nature lover, check out a video on youtube. A band I follow, Dreadzone, made a track called 'a canterbury tale' The video is a movement through the seasons in nature. It may be of some interest to you. They are also playing live at the wedgewood rooms in southsea next Saturday - quality band!:)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Absolutely love your blog. Been reading it for a while now & love your amazing pictures.

    I'm in Winchester & have been trying to get out most afternoons,weather permitting,to take some pictures but I don't seem to be as lucky as you except for a Little Egret & a spooked tawny owl last week.
    Your pictures inspire me to get out & get more pictures :-)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.