Wednesday, 8 May 2013

7th May - Never Mind I'll Remember You This Way

Today was another glorious day with the temperature into the twenties; there were though wispy clouds around.  I decided to make the most of the weather and made my way down to Plain Farm.  There was a sign at the cattle grid stating that there was a bull in the field, so I made sure I was alert as I walked up the hill from the cattle grid. 
I checked out the barn, but there was no sign of any owls being present, hopeful thinking maybe.  Leaving the barn I walked along the footpath to check the bushes and grass.  A Mistle Thrush called from the top of a horse chestnut tree, and chaffinches and robins sang from the garden. Coming back a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was sunning itself in the longer grass.
A Blackcap sang from the bushes by the small pond, and as I got a little closer I could see quite a bit of activity at the edge of the water.  I could see a female Blackcap, and a pair of Chaffinches, but they stayed in the bush.  A Blue Tit was a little more adventurous and came down for a wash, but was scared out of the way by this Coal Tit that was very brazen about having a really good bathe; it didn’t seem concerned about anything.
As I walked around towards the quarry a male pheasant made its way sedately across the field, for once there were no females around, so maybe he had some that were sitting on eggs. 

As I walked down the path at the quarry an Orange-tip flew past me, so far this year they have evaded my attempts at getting a good picture, and whilst this one did pause on a dandelion, it still is not what I want.

Behind the butterfly was a small group of Cowslips, always very nice to see, and not that common around here, despite the chalk.  There isn’t any areas that they are normally associated with like open grassland.
The quarry itself was very quiet with only a single Chiffchaff singing.  I left it calling out, and headed down the path towards the farm.  The odd Swallow would sing out as they flew across the path by the grain dryers, and House Sparrows and Chaffinches were calling from the bushes.  As I came up the road towards the workshops, I could see plenty of Swallows, and probably House martins around the cow sheds, and some were also on the ground in the mud.  As I got closer I was able to identify about six House Martins amongst a flock of approximately twenty Swallows.  I waited to see if they would return to the ground, but began to attract the attention of a rather large bull, that seemed to think I was interested in his cows, so I decided to move on.
Walking along the lane, the sound of House Sparrows was everywhere, they is a very large flock here, and they seem to be doing very well.  I walked by the hedge but could not find any more butterflies.  Turning into the field, I noticed a lapwing quite close to the edge of the field.  It is not usual to get close to them as they are very flighty.  This one watched me cautiously.

Then did what they normally do, flew off!

I have now seen at least three pairs in this area, and I am hopeful that they are nesting.  Leaving the field, I turned back to the other side and ducked through the hedge.  A pair of Grey Partridge was feeding along the edge of the field, and I was able to get some nice views.

I walked along the lane to the cottages listening to the songs of Linnets, Yellowhammers and Chaffinches.  At the waste ground there was once again quite a few House Sparrows, mostly males chirping away amongst the bushes and old machines.  Along the footpath I could hear Whitethroat and Blackbird, and at the end a Willow Warbler was singing.  I wasn’t sure if there was more than one as the song came from different areas, but I finally managed to find at least one bird.

I walked across the field to Charlwood Lane, and a Chiffchaff sang, or called, (I am never sure whether they do sing?) from the trees by the edge of the field.  Along Charlwood lane there was another good show of Dandelions, but also in abundance was the Field Mouse Ear, a small white flower that has petals that look like mouse ears, apparently.

A repetitive call from the trees at the end of the field stopped me, I was sure it was going to be Nuthatch, but there was an element of doubt, which soon disappeared when I saw the Nuthatch on the branches calling.

By the horse paddocks a Yellowhammer was singing from a fence pst, the evening sunshine picking out the yellow breast,

From there I made my way to Lye Way, and back towards the car.  Birds sang from the open areas, but as I walked along past Winchester Wood it was quiet.  I was thinking how this always seems to be a dead wood for wild life, and that my attempts to find anything here have always ended with nothing, when a Buzzard flew up the road towards me and into the wood.
Back at the car I looked across to the west, and could see that the feint white clouds were becoming more substantial, a sign that a cold front was approaching, and with it probably rain overnight and tomorrow morning.  The good sunny weather was not going to last.

As I scanned across the fields to the east I saw a Hare sitting in the sunshine making the most of what was left this evening.  I hope it doesn't go away for too long.


  1. HI Chris, I haven't seen Morris in his tree for a couple of weeks and wondered if he is using another tree that you may know of? (I don't look very often so as not to disturb him)I have found where the buzzard is nesting this year though and can't wait for some action!! I have seen the female land after a fight with a raven and settle back down in the nest and sometimes I can see her tail sticking up. Jill

    1. the owl seems to alternate with another tree, I looked in the morning and he would not be there, then back again in the afternoon. I am convinced he (or she) is a one of a pair, and they probably have a nest somewhere close by, and he has to share the duties. The Owlets if they are there should be out about the end of May.

      Good news on the buzzard nest, I have seen a nest close to the owl, is it there? I have heard Raven and buzzard calling, so maybe the ravens are looking to nest there too

  2. The buzzard nest is easily seen from both the central footpath, coming down from old down cottage, and from the other side, (the footpath that runs by side of field). on the central footpath it can be seen on the right (old down cottage behind you) about a quarter of a way down where a large tree with two trunks stands out a little in the path. I will leave a cross where to stand! I think the young have hatched as I saw Dad flying away yesterday. From the back path you get a good view from standing by a piece of fallen log near where a path goes into the field. hope this helps and look forward to photo's!

  3. Hi Chris again. this morning (13th) I witnessed a raven attack on the buzzards nest. I am not sure of the outcome but the ravens were relentless in their two pronged attack!! (for once I wished I had a catapult!) The female buzzard fought them off as best she could. I could see her floundering around in the nest obviously trying not to leave the young exposed. I am not certain if the Dad then came to the rescue as there was a huge commotion then the ravens left or if the ravens got a baby and she flew out to try and retrieve it or just lost her cool and flew at them. All was quiet when I left but couldn't see if any damage had been done. On a good note though...Morris was in his tree. Jill

    1. Hi Jill
      We walked around the wood yesterday, and could hear the buzzards above us, but didn't have your directions then to the site. Hopefully all will be well, and they will be succesful, I will have a look as soon as I can.
      Good news on Morris, I didn't think he had gone far as there were droppings everywhere. If there is a nest which I think there is then the owlets should be about some time in June.

  4. I will have to listen out for the owlets, I think they make a funny sipping sound when waiting for food! Good news on Buzzard nest, Ravens couldn't have done much damage as mum still up there and Dad bringing in food. Just have to be lucky to catch meal times. Jill


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