The shots are distant, because it went high, very quickly, but they are of a Sparrowhawk, and it is a start.
Even as the hawk continued to rise to become just a tiny dot in the sky, the Blue Tits continued to call their alarm warning.
I debated whether to go out this evening, the weather was the same warm and sunny, and I doubted whether anything had changed, but in the end I decided to go, and I am very pleased that I did.
There are still a few footpaths in the south west corner that I haven't walked so I set off through the woods again with the objective of exploring these. Walking along Brislands I noticed at the junction with the footpath opposite Gradwell that the "deer" was still sitting on the track!
The hedgerows are now starting to show signs of different flowers emerging. I noticed these blue flowers close to the bushes and out of the sun. It is Ground-ivy, and despite it's name is not an ivy, but related to the mint family. The flowers are extremely delicate with a small purple spot on the lower lip
Once again at the entrance to the wood the Chiffchaff was singing, it likes to sit in the sun and sing, so I took the path at the field edge. Although still a little bit flighty it did let me get close enough for some more photos. In the photos the legs look quite pale which is one of the identifiers for a Willow Warbler, but if you look at the wings they are quite short and that is a Chiffchaff trait, plus the fact it kept calling "Chiff Chaff", which does help to nail the identification!
I followed the main track in the hope that the open space may provide some butterflies, but the only ones around were a couple of Peacocks sunning on the ground near the bramble. I did though find a Red-tailed Bumblebee, that was paying intense attention to the bluebell flowers. the Red-tailed Bumblebee is very common around chalk land, and is also a frequent visitor to gardens.
I walked through the wood and out across the Desmond paddocks, instead of turning up Swelling Hill I crossed over into Andrew Lane, and walked up to the bridleway. We had obviously been looking for primroses in the wrong place, as the sides of the bridleway were covered in clumps of Primroses.
Once past the metalled road the bridleway opens out and looking north west there are open paddocks that are calling out for migrants. A quick scan today revealed nothing other than rooks and crows, plus a soaring buzzard overhead. I the evening sun though it look extremely idyllic, and I couldn't believe I hadn't been there before.
The Buzzard paused in its soaring to rest on the power lines that crossed the fields, the only blight on this area. I am beginning to build a collection of perched birds on power lines, as I couldn't resist this opportunity.
While watching the Buzzard I heard a "gronk" call from behind me, I turned to see two Ravens overhead, unfortunately I could not get a picture as they disappeared over the tree tops as I tried to focus, continuing to give the characteristic "gronk" as they went. I scrambled up the bridleway to see if I could relocate them away over to Ropley, but couldn't find them. I thought I might be lucky with Raven on the patch, but didn't expect it today. Now I need to find them again and get the picture.
The Bridleway comes out and turns east alongside a field. This field was of rape,and the distinctive yellow flowers are just beginning to come out, a sure sign that spring is here. Despite what you may think about the heavy planting of rape across the countryside, it does make for a really lovely scene.
The aspect here was perfect for the evening sun, and I paused at a periwinkle bed, and was delighted to find my first Orange Tip Butterfly for the year. these hibernate as pupae, so the warm weather eventually brings them on to the wing. This one really gave me the chase around as I tried to get the perfect shot.
As I chased it around it would attract the attention of up to four Small Tortoiseshells, and a Large White, both of which were also firsts for the year. I would imagine due to the aspect this little area will be good for butterflies in the summer, and will be well worth keeping a check on.
From the grazing fields around Lyeway farm, you could hear the bleats of new born lambs, these were the first I have found in the patch, although there have been some close by in Chawton for sometime now. This one doesn't seem to be that young, but is clearly enjoying the evening sun, and the warm weather, let's hope it isn't in for a shock soon.
Once again I checked the pylons as I walked down Lyeway, and found a Kestrel this time, it was scanning the field and dropped quickly to the ground only to return almost immediately to it's look out post.
A scan of the fields only produced a few crows, this one was quite close and allowed me the chance to get a photo to compare with the Rooks and Jackdaws. As you can see the crow is all black, with quite a substantial beak. Now all I need is to find the Ravens again!
The kestrel that had been in the pylons, flew over my head towards Swelling Hill road. Once again the presence was signalled by the song bird alarm call. It is amazing how you quickly become tuned for these calls, and immediately look for something different. It flew to a conifer tree, and just as I arrived it decided to fly off again. However with just one shot I was lucky to get this really nice flight shot as it leapt from the tree top, as it flew off the alarm calls rang out again, and as it flew over the field it was dive-bombed by a small bird.
In the bushes along the roadsides and in the woods you can usually find either Great Tits or Blue Tits, normally in pairs they will call repeatedly to each as they work the branches and trunks. This behaviour is obviously linked to feeding but by doing so together must have something to do with courtship bonding. These two though were really having a go at each other, and have now clearly fallen out, as the back to back pose indicates!.
I headed down Kitwood towards the school, in the road verge the Lords and Ladies are beginning to flower, not fully out yet as you can see, but they will be soon. This one will not have long to go.
Another sunny evening drew to a close, and I was glad that I had decided to go out. Raven was a big surprise and takes me to a year list of 66 for the patch, ever closer to my target 80.