What a difference a week can make. This time last week I was photographing a snow scene down Brislands and today its all gone.
Over the last week, with the grey skies and the white snow everything seemed like it was in black and white, a monochrome world. Yesterday there was still a substantial amount of snow around, but overnight it has all gone, and we have returned to a technicolour world. It reminds me of when I would come home from University and the black and white television to the colour television of my parents, everything looks so bright and vivid.
The Fieldfare has gone from the garden, and there were quite a few thrushes feeding in the horse paddock, including one Fieldfare.
With the snow gone there was water everywhere. As we walked down Brislands we walked alongside a gentle trickle of water, there were also puddles everywhere, some of which were very deep. As a result we decided not to risk the footpaths of the wood and continued down the lane.
Around the house the birds could be heard singing, Robin and Great Tits being the more vocal. However once we got into farmland it went quiet, even the numbers of Wood Pigeon were down. At cow sheds though we could hear House Sparrows calling, and we managed to find them in the hedge by the barn. At first we thought there was the usual flock as we could see them in the hedge.
As we walked past they came out of the hedge and headed for the puddles by the barn. They just didn't stop coming out of the hedge. I thought at first there was about 50 - 60 birds in all, but Helen felt there was more. In this photo I have counted 49, and this must have been about a third of the flock, so I would estimate there must have between 100 - 150 birds present. I would imagine the numbers have swelled as a result of the snow, but they were wonderful to see and hear as they fed and drank around the barn.
A little further on we stopped to let a car pass, and as I looked back towards Old Down, I found three Roe Deer in the field.
i mentioned earlier how vivid the colours appeared, and nowhere was this more evident in the fields next to the Watercress Line. With the sun out the woods behind the line threw shadows, and the field was a beautiful green. The train looked quite good too.
We made our way towards Swelling Hill, and stopped when we heard Bullfinch. The female disappeared into the trees, but the male showed enough of itself to get me interested. I waited for a better view, but it never came, this was the best.
In the fields along Swelling Hill, the sheep were joined by a flock of about 50 Common Gulls. Unusually there were no Black-headed Gulls to be seen.
The snow has gone, only to be replaced by Snow Drops, the verge along Swelling Hill was covered and gave a good show in the afternoon sun.
We passed the pond, but didn't walk around it. There was still quite a lot of ice on the pond which was a surprise, so it must have been quite thick. The paddocks by Lye Way were empty of birds, and as we made our way along Kitwood it was very quiet, with only a male pheasant by the side of the field attracting our attention.
I imagine that most of the birds headed away from us last week as the snow came, and as we had full snow cover with several fresh falls through the week, it probably pushed more away. We scanned the fields but without any luck, but as we started walking again a single Skylark flew over calling, and heading south.
Everywhere there were large puddles, and some with the reflections turned the road surface into an abstract picture. The branches in the puddle reflection contrast against the blurred tarmac.
At the bottom of Kitwood the Snow Drops were out, but are difficult to see due to the old grass and bracken still being in place.
We walked up Willis Lane, and again there was nothing about. One tree held quite a few tinkling Goldfinches but we could see them as they were hidden in the ivy. A lone Mistle Thrush was feeding in the horse paddock at the top of Willis Lane. The Mistle Thrush seems to be the bird of focus for the RSPB's garden watch this year, as they are claiming that it is declining as a garden bird. There are several pairs around here, and I know regular spots where they can be seen and heard. I have not had one in the garden though.
Along Telegraph Lane we heard a strange call, I wasn't sure what it was and we looked through the trees. Helen found a bird at the top of one, and as I got on it I saw this.
I still wasn't sure, and it kept calling. As I watched it put its head up to reveal its identity.
a preening Nuthatch. It would call in between vigorous preening, I am not sure if this was why the call sounded different or if it just had a sore throat.
We made our way home through Badger Close, and stopped at the garden with the feeders by the footpath. With the Goldfinches and Greenfinches in the trees and on the feeders was a smart male Siskin. Where have they all been this year?
There is plenty of activity here as the garden is right next to a thickly wooded footpath, providing ideal cover for the smaller birds. Helen found this very smart Jay, and I was able to frame it perfectly between the trees.
We made our way back home from here. I hope the birds start to return soon.