Sunday, 6 January 2013

6th January - I Feel Like I'm Clingin' to a Cloud,

It has been quiet weather wise for the last few days, but it has been dull and cloudy.  This morning we woke to fog in the village, but gradually through the morning this thinned to mist.  It was still misty when we went out, but the sun was trying to break through.

The fog and mist had left water drops on the branches and with the sun trying to burn off the mist all the trees looked like they were covered with fairy lights

Despite the mist there was quite a bit of small bird activity as we walked along the lane towards Oak Green.  Once again I think it was activity around feeders, and the trees and bushes were full of Blue Tits and Chaffinches.  A single Great Tit was calling the familiar "teacher" call, and we were reminded of spring.

Once we were away from the gardens things became quiet.  The mist was with us because of the lack of wind, and as a result it was quite strange as we walked along Telegraph Lane.  Water would fall from the trees as if it was raining.  We could hear tits and nuthatches in the trees but it was difficult to see them.  Finally we saw one Nuthatch come from a garden with a nut, and then away as quickly.

Down Hawthorn Lane a Song Thrush was searching the leaf litter and puddles by the side of the road.  Over the course of the walk we saw quite a few of this lovely thrush.

The mist was condensing water on everything and as a result the many cobwebs were highlighted with fine water droplets.  This web seemed to be straining under the weight.

I scanned the stubble fields and noticed that they too were covered again in webs, this time though they were highlighted by the water, and not the sunshine.

We stopped a little further down the lane when a large flock of Chaffinches flew over.  This male's chest feathers stood out in the tree so much we thought at first it was a male Bullfinch.

Along with the chaffinches there were also Blue Tits and Goldcrests, but everything went quiet, then alarm calls rang out as a male Sparrowhawk sped through.  A little further on Helen found a Goldcrest quite close in a pine tree.  They are always difficult to photograph as they are so mobile, working their way through the branches looking for spiders and small insects.  Every so often it would show amongst the pine needles, the crest flashing yellow.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from a tree to our left, and as we turned away from the Goldcrest, and watched the woodpecker.  It made its way along the trunk into view, this is a female as it lacks the red on the neck.

It then started to hammer away at the trunk, As the bill hits the trunk the eyes close as you can see in this photograph.

At the bottom of Hawthorn Lane we came across a group of tits.  On our last walk here I had seen a Marsh Tit, but had been unable to photograph it.  I searched the flock and found a pair, who then began to call to each other.

At the junction with Hawthorn Road we watched a pair of Jays in the trees, they were calling to each other with their loud croaky call, which always reminds me of the parrots we have heard in South America.

The trees look amazing at the moment here as they are all covered with a thick moss.  The recent wet weather has probably enhanced the moss which has most likely always been there.

On Tuesday we had checked for signs of Snow Drops,but didn't see any.  Now we either did not look hard enough, or they have suddenly grown, because there were lots of shoots.  These are very close to flowering, which is a lot earlier than last year by at least 14 days .  I would imagine these will be in bloom by next weekend.

As we walked along Kitwood Lane the Rooks were extremely vocal, calling all the time to each other as they perched in the trees and flew across the fields.  In between the calls of the Rooks the other sound was that of the Robin.  All over the patch today Robins have been singing, this one was quite close to the road in the middle of a bush.

As we made our way home the Robins continued to sing.  At the bottom of Brislands though they were replaced by a Song Thrush singing.  I had photographed one here singing last year, but today it was tucked well inside a holly bush.

Later in the afternoon I went to Plain Farm.  By now the mist had gone, to be replaced by thick cloud.  It was quite gloomy as I set off up the lane.  By the farm buildings there were lots of Chaffinches.  I searched through them for Brambling, but with no luck.  I counted 47 in total, and they were obviously making the most of the fallen grain.

I checked the owl tree, but still no sign.  A raptor flew from the bushes into the field and then up and away, any ideas what it was?

Scanning the fields produced a few small flocks of Linnets but nothing else.  In the hedgerows were some quite sizeable flocks of House Sparrows, and when I got back to the farm buildings the Chaffinches had been replaced by House Sparrows. 

I was checking all the trees and posts for any unusual shapes, and as a result I came across this Kestrel sitting on the edge of the tree.

As I reached the car a pair of Mistle Thrushes called as they flew over, and a flock of 17 Redwing also flew over me and headed into the plantation on the other side of the road.  It was now getting dark and gloomy so I decided to call it a day.


  1. I take my hat off to your Goldcrest shots, I had trouble keeping up with them today just with my binoculars.
    Had the same experience with a Robin at Titchfield..I stood silent..encapsulated by its song just inches away from it proclaiming its territory. The webs with moisture look ethereal...really good. As is the moss covered oaks..such a haunting shot.
    You know how to tease with these mysterious raptor shots. Ok here's my guestimate..Red Kite. Its those black wingtips that tip it for me, too brown in the body for another Hen Harrier and surely not the right habitat for a Marsh H?

    1. The New Year has obviously set the levels high! It is in fact only a Buzzard

    2. was going to add a postcript that it might just be a Buzzard...honest guv! ;)

  2. Hi Chris
    Loving the blog. Saw today's entry with the mystery raptor & sadly I have nothing to add to answer your question on identity.
    I will add that my husband & I, whilst nearing the end of our walk at Winchester water meadows, spotted what we believed to be a tawny owl but after seeing your picture I am now questioning whether we got the identification correct. It was a fairly large bird but what has thrown us is the black wing tips as I wasn't aware the tawny had this characteristic. We are aware of various raptors in the area but none that look as similar as your picture.
    Hope someone is able to help you out.

  3. Hi Chris, thank you for the photo of marsh tit, now I know thats what I have at my bird feeders. (rather than a willow tit)!


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