The weather has turned cooler again, but as I write this the young Starlings are calling from the nest in my roof, the Blackbirds are combing the lawn for worms which they are taking somewhere, and at last the Blue Tits seem to be busy go and to and fro from the nest box next to my office window. It would seem that nature can’t wait for the real spring to arrive, it has to move on.
It was a busy weekend but I took the chance for a walk Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t put myself through the football, I just knew it was going to end how I wanted it to, but then as a Spurs fan for all my life, you come to terms with these things!
It had been drizzly and cold in Southampton, but when we got back to Four Marks the sun came out, and despite a cool wind it was very pleasant as I walked along Brislands Lane. Little pink flowers have been appearing recently in the grass and along the banks by the roads. This is a member of the geranium family commonly known as Herb Robert, but also known Red Robin, Death come quickly, Storksbill, Dove's Foot, or Crow's Foot. Herb Robert was used as a remedy for toothache and nosebleeds. Freshly picked leaves have an odor resembling burning tires when crushed, and if they are rubbed on the body the smell is said to repel mosquitoes. It was carried to attract good luck, and due to its association through name with storks, to enhance fertility.
At the horse paddock I stopped to see if there was any sign of the Roe Deer again, when one just walked into view. It stood looking around the field, and then reacted to a sound from somewhere.
It walked up to the fence and tried to go under, but ended up jumping over and away.
I walked down to the Brislands entrance to Old Down, and then in my one man campaign to restore the missing footpath, I walked out into the field. I could hear Skylarks all around me, but they never came down into the field. The field is a mess with a patch of oilseed rape off to the west, a bare patch in the centre, and what looks like a cereal crop where I was standing. I scanned around to see if there was anything in the field, and flushed a pair of pigeons. They didn’t seem right though, a lot slimmer that the usual Wood Pigeons, and sure enough they were in fact a pair of Stock Dove. They flew around and came a little closer. The photograph isn’t wonderful, but you can just make out the lack of white neck patch, and the dove like appearance of both birds
All along the side of Brislands Lane, and the down the path into Old Down Wood, the plants are growing at last, nettles and Cow Parsley getting taller, the parsley beginning to flower.
Taking the main path through the wood the bluebells were still out under the beech trees, the light enhancing the newly emerged leaves.
The floor of the wood around the trees was quite dark, but there were little clumps of bluebells picked out by the sunlight.
I walked down the main path, and over the crossroads. I wanted to find the buzzard nest I had been hearing so much about recently. The nest was high in a larch tree, quite a substantial construction. I waited to see if any one returned to or left the nest. A Buzzard called in the distance but there was nothing moving on or around the nest.
I decided to walk along Lye Way in the opposite direction to that which I normally did, and this provided a different view on the fields. As I looked across the main large field, the small copse in the centre was full of the many colours of the new leaves of the different trees and bushes there. It contrasted well with the monotonous green of the field.
I was surprised I hadn’t seen or heard many Yellowhammer as I walked along the lane, they are usually everywhere here. This splendid male was the only one I saw.
At the gate to the field I saw a Whitethroat fly up into the air in full song, then fall away to come back down in the hedge by the side of the field. It then continued to sing from the branches.
There was a large flock of Swallows by the farm, and Goldfinches could be heard in the trees by the buildings. I walked along the footpath towards Andrew Lane, hopeful that there might be some butterflies about. There was in fact two male Orange-tips, and once they had sorted each other out one settled on a mouse-ear flower.
As I walked down Andrews Lane, I checked all the suitable sites for Spotted Flycatcher, but there was nothing about. In the hedge alongside the lane there was a very nice Comma butterfly.
The pastures at the bottom of the lane were covered in buttercups and daisies, they create a blur of colour.
As I walked up the Desmond Paddocks towards Old Down, the yellows of the buttercups and dandelions looked spectacular against the blue of the sky, and the green of the grass and hedges.
The footpath has been diverted slightly to keep dogs away from the cows and their calves. I went through the gates and then up and over the style towards Old Down. On the edge of the wood there were two Peacocks and a couple of Large White Butterflies. I walked along the main footpath, the bluebells were still out here, and the wild garlic is in full bloom and the scent is lovely. The other flower out was the Lords and Ladies, and I finally managed to get a picture of the petal with some back light.
I came up the main path alongside the min patches of bluebells. I wanted to get some different pictures today, and started to concentrate on the areas of flowers highlighted by the shards of light coming through the beech trees. Hopefully these work.
I checked on the owl, he wasn’t in, I will have to go back at a different time of day, the walk along the south perimeter was quiet, and as I crossed towards Gradwell several swallows were flying around the horse stables.
Along Brislands the light was now very nice, and I took another picture looking down. The leaves are now almost complete.
I walked home listening to the song of Blackcap at the cemetery, and Blackbirds and Song Thrush along Lymington Bottom.
The India blog is now almost complete, if you haven’t yet seen them, check out the Bee-eaters, they are truly wonderful.