Tuesday, 7 May 2013

6th May - I Just Hope Blue Isn't the Colour!

After a weekend away in which the sun shone on us, we decided when we returned home, that we would see if the warm sunny weather had produced any changes around the patch.  As we walked along Brislands lane a green Woodpecker called out in the distance, and this meant after our time this morning in the New Forest that in the day I had heard all three British woodpeckers, something I haven’t done for a long time.
Looking down the lane the leaves emerging on the trees has finally changed the scene, with the sun light being dappled through the branches.  It seemed we were not alone in taking advantage of the lovely weather.

Rather than follow the lane down to the wood, we turned off onto Gradwell, and came in via the footpath there.  The ground was very dry, and it was so much different from the last time we had walked here.  In the wood the larch trees were now showing some lovely colour, the leaves a beautiful lime green against both the blue sky and the dark of the wood.

  We wondered along the perimeter path, the floor under the trees now has a good display of Wood Sorrel.  It has a delicate petal, and the colour varies from almost all white to a pink hue, the petal also has very fine dark pink veins.

We walked past the owl tree, but there was no sign of the owl.  We then made our way to the main path.  It was nice to hear bird song, and to see colour everywhere.  As we walked along the main path back to the crossroads, a Treecreeper flew up in front of us, and proceeded to investigate the moss on the tree, as usual it did not want to come into the sunlight.

After a short interlude to return a dog to its owner we carried on towards the north perimeter.  The Bluebells here were not that pronounced, but it shouldn’t be long, the little clumps of Wood Sorrel were around though, and looked lovely as the sunshine picked out the delicate flowers.
Turning onto the perimeter path, it was clear Bluebell season has probably now started.  Five to six weeks later than last year, but it seems as if they have benefited from the early flowering last year followed by the drenching they received after.  The floor is covered and the leaves and flowers look tall and strong.  So here goes that start of an unrelenting series of pictures of this wonderful sight.  If you are reading this and live around here, go and enjoy and take only pictures, while you doing so, take the time to look at the wild life here too, and to listen to the sound of a spring wood.

We stopped in a certain area where last year there had been some orchids, and I picked out a lovely Early Purple Orchid amongst the bluebells.  Last year we had found it as the bluebells died off.  This year it stands out amongst them in a lovely purple colour.

Last year there were two specimens here, but we couldn’t find the other.  We walked on, coming out of the wood at the west end.  Both Large White and Peacock butterflies were seen on the edge of the wood, the Peacock preferring to sun bathe on the field, while the Large White patrolled the dead nettles.
We walked down the paddock, to see if the lamb was still about, he was and after a bit of coaxing he came over to us.  Looking back at the wood you can see that the Beech trees are now well developed, but the Oaks still have some way to go, this shows in this photograph, the oaks being the grey brown patches.
Back into the wood we walked down the main path.  Solomon’s Seal are getting taller, and there are signs of the small flowers beneath the leaves, and the Ransomes or Wild Garlic is just beginning to flower
As the path winds back up hill towards the crossroads, there was a sunny patch of bluebells and emerging bracken.  This was attractive to butterflies, and we saw four different species here.  The Orange Tips were not very helpful, and very rarely stopped on the flowers, and when they did they were gone before I could get a picture, this was the best.

A rather tatty Brimstone was a little more helpful, it taking a likening to this bluebell

As did this Peacock

The other butterfly seen was a Large White which did not settle at all.
On the other side of the path, the bluebells were looking wonderful.  They are not completely out yet, but they look very impressive already.  Once again forgive my indulgence.

We walked around the west perimeter back to the main path.  The Bluebells will probably reach their peak by next weekend if it stays warm and sunny.  Everywhere you look in Old Down Wood you will find them, a wonderful sign that spring is finally here.
We left the wood and walked along the road to the pond.  The water level is once again quite low, and you could see the carp just under the surface.  We walked around the pond, checking the water for tadpoles.  Every so often we would see one or two, but we remarked on how little there was this year.  At the jetty we looked again, and realised that there were quite a few about but they had probably on just hatched, and were using any piece of vegetation as cover.  This created little towers of black just under the water, looking like the scene from a sci-fi movie.

As we left the pond I noticed a clump of Arch Angel in flower.  This is similar to the Whit flowering Dead Nettle, but the flowers are yellow.  These looked wild, but sometimes you do get the cultivated types with the greyer ornamental leaves.
After taking the decision not to cross the field back to the wood, we started down towards the school.  Almost immediately Helen stopped me and pointed out this lovely male Bullfinch in the sun.
Last time I remarked about the numbers of Dandelions there are this year compared to last year.  The Dandelion will close up in poor wet weather and it seems this stopped them from pollinating, this year there are already loads of these lovely vibrant yellow flowers, and with them come the seed heads, and the beautiful delicate parachute seeds.  As a result we decided to have a go photographing them doing what they have to do to spread even further.  A first attempt and I hope we get more chances because it will mean the weather has been kind.

We made our way back home, still in the warm sun, with Blackbirds and Song Thrushes singing.


  1. A few days of warm weather makes all the difference for life to blossom,even for ourselves I think. I have noticed a profusion of dandelions here too, much to everyones disgust...I think its great! Love the bluebells, keep indulging. I keep a record of the garden wildlife for the BTO and in one week there has been 10 more species to report,thanks to butterflies mainly and our old friends the Swifts made a triumphant return..shooting straight into one of the nestboxes,much to the disgust of the Starling neighbour. A lesser spotted in the New Forest too, you lucky people...

  2. The lesser spot gave us the run around, but managed to see it briefly, but no photos. It will be a while before I post the events of the weekend, check out the photos on the hampshire blog


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