This morning was damp and miserable with heavy showers moving through and dark clouds in between. As I forlornly looked out from the kitchen window I noticed a large bird slowly drifting above the tops of the trees. The wings and tail moved in an unmistakable way so a dash upstairs for the camera was necessary. By the time I got it set the bird had drifted a little further away, and was now being pursued by starlings. You can still make out the long wings and beautiful tail of our now almost resident Red Kite.
The heavy rain turned to drizzle and then finally some clear spells, and then by early afternoon sunshine and blue skies. You have to take every opportunity these days so quickly Helen and I set off to walk the lanes. As we walked along Lymington Bottom the Starlings were singing, a Robin as well from the top of the pines, and away in the distance a Song Thrush could be heard. The song thrushes start to sing now, and continue on well into the summer, their song is very distinctive as they seem to repeat each phrase.
The horse paddock on Brislands was now extremely muddy, but unusually there were no birds present. The reason for this was quickly revealed when a Sparrowhawk appeared being harassed by a pair of Jackdaws. A little further along I noticed a bird sitting in the sun on the roof of one of the houses. A closer look revealed it to be a Kestrel. The low sun was extremely bright and clearly very welcome following the rain we have had recently.
We headed along Brislands and walked past the entrance to the wood. It was very quiet with very little in the way of bird life. The hedgerows are all covered with Old Man's Beard, and where the sun comes through the hedge it catches the feathery like petals of the flowers and they glow, brightening up an otherwise dull hedge.
Partridges again, but his time the red legged variety! As we reached the farm buildings at the bottom of the lane we disturbed a group of eleven, and they flew off in a "whirr" of wings and dropped out of site behind a stone wall. A little further on when we made our way towards Swelling Hill, Helen found another group in the field, this time of nine, and they too flew away from us across the field.
There appears to be plenty of these game birds about, but like the pheasants yesterday they are very nervous, and don't stick around, I would have thought though that it was in their interests not to fly off!
As we walked down the hill towards Swelling Hill, I noticed the trees away on the horizon. For me a scene that captures winter around here is the sight of bare trees contrasting against a washed out sky. The bleakness of the scene typifying the essence of the season.
A Kestrel flew through a group of pigeons, turned as if to come straight at us only to bank away and out of sight behind some houses. A Sparrowhawk, also a distance away, circled in the sky in that unmistakable way with the wings and tail spread out as it caught what little thermal there was, and before you knew it the hawk was gone
We were now heading up the lane towards the paddocks. As is usual this time of year we were passing people out walking off their Christmas excesses, and as we passed some a brown bird flew across the road skimming the hedge tops. A little further on and it revealed itself, another kestrel, or possibly the bird we had seen earlier. It began to hover in front of us, and we followed it to the paddocks.
The window of dry weather was now beginning to close, and the clouds were gathering once more. The odd spot of rain also indicated that it might be a good idea to head home. We paused briefly at the pond, but nothing was showing, and the fields were also quiet with no sign of any thrushes.
For once we did not see a Buzzard which is very unusual as they seem to be everywhere. If we had of done it would have completed a four raptor day, which is always nice. We walked up Gradwell in the hope of a calling owl, but there was nothing, however the paddock along Brislands was full again of feeding Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings. It was quite gloomy now so we didn't stop and made our way to home and a cup of coffee.