Friday, 11 January 2013

11th January - And the Fields Have all Been Brown and Fallow

After a rather dreary morning the sun came out in the afternoon, and with about an hour before sunset Helen and I decided to go out for a walk.  In the week on a very early morning start I had driven along Hawthorne Road in the hope the Barn Owl would be about, but all I could find was a group of three Roe Deer in Lymington Bottom, and a Fox by Plain Farm.  Once again the Barn Owl was the target this afternoon so we parked the car at the bottom of the Rotherfield footpath and made our way up the road towards Charlwood.  With an hour to go to sunset the sun was low in the sky and it was getting cold as we walked along the road in the shadows.

The trunks of the beech trees in Winchester wood seem to take on a different appearance dependent on the weather.  In the wet and damp weather they look black a menacing, today they appeared purple and grey with the sky lit up bu the setting sun contrasting in a pinkish violet between the trunks.

It is very much a winter scene, and many more could be seen as we turned up Charlwood Lane in the direction of Plain Farm.  The hope as always was that we would come across an early hunting owl, or a late raptor hunting the edges of the fields, but unfortunately the only birds we encountered in the lane was a few Blue Tits and the Thrushes flying from the tree tops as they looked for a suitable p[lace to roost.  This tree was favoured by a few Redwing, if you look you can see the sun lighting them up.  As well as the Redwing quite a few Fieldfare were also coming out of the fields to the trees.

Looking to the west the sky was taking on an orange hue.  There was little wind, and the smoke seemed to hang just above the trees from the farm building and yards in the distance.

We crossed the field and made our way to the footpath to Plain Farm.  The sunshine that was lighting the sky to the west was also scattering weak light on the hedges creating the golden glow that you associate with the cold of a dying winter's day.

The fields are still quite muddy, as was the track thanks to some deep tractor tyre tracks.  At the first set of farm buildings a group of Bullfinches were calling, and high in the trees Yellowhammers were perched as if to try and get the last rays of sun.

The Rooks were gathering on the telegraph wires, probably before heading off to the large roost at Weathermore.  As usual they were noisy, chattering away to each other, then one by one they would head off towards the north.

I turned back to get a better view of the sky that was now lit by the set sun.  As I turned to come back I flushed a covey of twelve Grey Partridges that were almost under our feet.  They just seem to explode from beneath you, and all do so at the same time, which means they are not taking the lead for any particular look out.

A check of the tree in the field by the barn once again revealed nothing, I am now beginning to doubt the intelligence that was passed to me on the owls.  We did though disturb the Kestrel from the pole, and we later found it in the tree by the main farm buildings where I had seen it last Sunday.

With the sun now set the sky became duller, but orange streaks through the clouds would provide that something special.  Looking back the Owl tree looks very impressive standing there in the field, and with the evening sky it was well worth yet another photograph.

As we made our way to the main farm buildings a Buzzard flew from the tree and up over the hedge into the next field.  House Sparrows called from the usual spot by the grain hopper, and at least four Robins could be heard singing around the garden of the cottage.

We crossed the road and walked up the path past the walk through the fields and then back down to the car.  The hope once again was to find the barn Owl, but other than a few Wood Pigeons and a couple of pheasants there was nothing.

By now it was cold so we made our way down the hill to the car.


  1. Hi Chris, about the barn owl at plain farm. My Daughter said that she sees it most mornings on the way down to the A32, near plain farm. This would be about 7.30 am. The other day she said it flew along side her car! If you are interested, my husband, as a christmas present, has had a tawny owl box and a Kestrel box put up in the trees over our chicken run. They are very difficult to see being very well camoflaged. If we get any action this year, I will let you know. Jill

    1. My daughter sees the Barn Owl there too when she goes to work, but every time I go I don't! I tried at 5.00 the other morning and failed!

      Great news about the boxes, I saw a Tawny Owl near you in October so fingers crossed they may use it. It would be great to see some owlets!


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