The cold weather continues, and is remains grey and extremely dull with the biting easterly wind still with us. As evening approaches the clouds have shown signs of thinning and glimpses of the sun. Today I decided to take a later afternoon walk around Plain Farm and the estate. I left the car at the bottom of the hill, and walked up, scanning as I went across the fields. I was in two minds where to walk when I came over the cattle grid, was there the chance of a wheatear in the field, or should I just make my way down the footpath towards Plain Farm?
I decided to check the long grass, and as I moved towards the barn, I noticed movement behind the long grass. It was a Barn Owl, flying low towards me.
I stopped and watched as it flew around, and then kept coming towards me. It came past the barn, and flew around in front of me. The light was bad, and the owl was quite quick. It flew back towards the barn, and then turned to come at me again.
But this time it turned and went back into the barn. I waited but it didn't come back out, so I walked around the barn and waited. After awhile I decided to get closer to the barn, and as I started to walk towards the entrance the owl flew out and turned to fly over the wall, and into the holly and conifers. I looked around the area but couldn't relocate it, all I could see were a pair of pheasants.
I had hoped to see the Barn Owl this evening but not as early as I did. I left the barn, there was no other birds in the area, so I set off down the path to the farm. Once again I disturbed a Hare in the long grass, and it sped off across the field. From behind you can see the black markings on the back of the ears. This allows other Hares and leverits to see them in the long grass.
Coming down the hill a Buzzard flew low across the field, and then gained height and began to soar over the trees. I am sure it would have appreciated some thermals to gain the lift but there was nothing like that on a day like today.
The birds of prey just kept coming, as a Kestrel flew across the field, and then up into the tree by the drying barns. It sat there watching the yard below it.
I walked up past the workshops, and scanned across the field and picked out a small flock of six Lapwing feeding in the grass.
By now there were some breaks in the cloud, and I managed to spot that rarity over the last few weeks, the sun. You can just see the lower half of the disc in the centre of the photograph.
Scanning the field I picked up a distant Red Kite over the far field, it drifted along the tree line, and was joined by another, once again two together, is this a possible good sign?
The second bird drifted away and out of sight, but the first one started to head towards me.
It glided right over my head, and gave me some lovely views. I make no apologies for the indulgence here, the Red Kite is one of my favourite birds, and to have such wonderful views so close to home is just amazing. I just kept shooting away.
Finally it glided off over the workshops and down towards the road. My attention now turned to some strange calls from the field. After a few more calls I realised that it was a duck, and almost immediately a pair of Mallard flew up from one of the dips and flew around the field in front of me. My first for the year!
The sun was having an affect on the birds, they were suddenly coming to life, with song and calls coming from the hedges and trees. These House Sparrows were chirping away in the weak sunshine.
As I walked down the lane I could hear Fieldfare, but I couldn't find them, I ducked through the hedge to check the filed to the east, and disturbed a lone Grey Partridge, I came back to the road, and eventually found the flock of Fieldfare in the tree at the bottom of the lane. They were calling and suddenly some more birds flew out of the bushes on the the other side of the road. They are quite a large bird, and it is amazing how they can seem to disappear in the branches of the tree
As well as the Fieldfare there was a large flock of Yellowhammer in the hedge, I didn't realise they were there until they burst into the air calling. One settled on the wire and allowed me to catch one.
The sun then returned to its world behind the clouds, and almost as soon as it did it went dark, and you could suddenly feel the cold again. I walked down the footpath flushing a female pheasant. Along Charlwood was more Yellowhammer, but by now the smaller birds were off to roost. As I came down Lye Way towards the car I could hear the off Goldcrest call in the woods, and a Chaffinch was calling from the side of the road, but that was it.
I have refrained from referring to this time last year for this post, mainly because, this time last year I would have been thrilled to have had such wonderful views of Barn Owl and Red Kite. We have to deal with the cards we are played, this year it wants to be cold now, and with that comes its own natural world, you just have to make sure you enjoy it while you can.