Today the morning started bright and sunny, but with a fresh breeze, but nothing like the high winds we had during the night. We decided to stick to the roads and lanes, as everywhere else was likely to be very wet. We set off down Brislands, and all around there were reminders of the previous days storm, the lane was flooded in places, and twigs and branches could be seen along the road side. Brislands Lane just before the path into Old Down was completely flooded still.
We walked down the lane, past the footpath, and on in the direction of the A31. This is usually a good spot for thrushes and finches, but today it was very quiet. At the cowsheds we could he quite a few House Sparrows chirping, but as I got close to the hedge they would stop, move away \nd they would start again. We tried to see if we could find them, but they must have been so far into the hedge it was impossible to locate them. We left them, and as we walked off they started up again.
At the bottom of the hill we turned left, and headed back up the incline. The hedges are now quite open, and it was nice to get a different view of Old Down Wood. Normally we are looking from the wood out across to the west. Today I was able to get a shot of the west end. As I did I disturbed a group of four Red-legged Partridges, and they flew into the shot.
As well as the hedges being open, they are also now covered with Old Man's Beard. In the watery sunshine they would stand out like silvery strands on the branches of the hedge.
A little further on we reached the footpath that leads from Old Down, and once again I was able to get a different perspective of the wood.
With the storm yesterday, and the heavy winds overnight, I had expected to see some gulls in the fields this morning. We did find some, but not as many as I had hoped. They were mostly Herring and Common Gulls, and did not settle for long.
A Kestrel flew up from the field, and began to hover, dropping and then flying closer to us. Against the grey sky it looked lovely as it banked to allow the sunlight to catch the under wing. As we watched the kestrel, a Buzzard drifted across the field, upsetting the gulls.
We saw three different individual kestrels on the walk today, there seems to be more around at the moment.
Checking the fields for different corvids, I noticed a buzzard on a post being mobbed by a magpie. As I watched it fly off I noticed yet another above the tree tops of Old Down. This is a distant shot, but I like the patterns in the now leafless trees, especially the way the ivy has covered one.
We walked up Swelling Hill, and made our way towards the pond. As we approached Helen pointed out that the jetty that had been broken had been fixed, it is good to see it back, I would have hated if it had to have been removed, as it holds so many memories.
The pond has seen some drama this year, with fallen trees and a broken jetty, but just when you thought this was now behind it we walked past the pond, and noticed another tree down, this time by the main track.
This was an old oak, and I wonder if it came down last night. Covered in ivy, this had probably contributed to the downfall of the tree, but we also noticed that there was plenty of fungi too.
This is Bleeding Oak Crust, which is commonly found on dead oak trees.
This is Jelly Ear, or Jew's Ear, and could be seen all over the tree trunk. As well as these there was some Chicken of the Woods, and lots of rusts and slime. The question is did the tree die and the fungi grow, or did the fungi kill the tree? Whatever the answer, the tree was down, and will have to be cleared like the others that have fallen this year.
While we inspected the tree it started to rain. We had hoped it would have kept away today, but we were not to be lucky. We walked down the road towards Kitwood in the rain, and almost Helen picked up a large bird over the trees, as it came over I could see it was Red Kite, and I tried to get a photograph, but I had to get the cover off the camera, and it was quite dark, and all I ended up with was this blurred image, but I think it looks quite atmospheric.
By the time we reached Kitwood the sun came back out, and with the dark clouds to the north, the fields and trees looked lovely. In addition there is also the feint presence of a rainbow.
A little further on there was quite a collection of finches on the ground in the field. They would fly up from the ground and into the bushes and trees. A little further on there was also a few Redwings and Fieldfares doing exactly the same thing. The finches were all Chaffinches, and despite some extensive searching I could not find the elusive Brambling.
We carried on down Kitwood, wood pigeon were feeding in the horse paddocks, and for the second week running a Green Woodpecker posed on a telegraph pole for me, although this one was a little bit further away.
We made our way to Willis Lane and as we turned into Telegraph, I noticed a large bird coming up from the field, a closer look, revealed this to be Grey Heron. The field was quite flooded, and there was a large group of Crows and Rooks in the field as well. I wonder if the Heron was able to find suitable easy food in the field. They are known to have very catholic tastes, and I am sure they wouldn't overlook an earthworm or two. I watched it fly off, and was able to get another very grainy photograph of a Four Marks Heron.
Telegraph Lane is one of the highest points in Hampshire, and the prove this there is a trig point in the field which is measured at 215 metres above sea level. The trig point stone though seems to be a little worse for wear.
It had now started to rain again, and it looked like it would be settling in again for the afternoon. As I watched the rain fall over the filed I was quite glad that we are so high up, and that we do not have to live with the worry many have of flooding.
We walked back home desperately searching for the waxwing, that have got now as far as Badshot Lea, there is still time for them to make my year list.