Wednesday, 19 June 2013

18th June - Make You Want To Move Your Dancin' Feet

First some more bad news, after the unknown fate of the Blue Tits, and the fact that I decided to allow myself believe they had fledged, I was hopeful for the House Martins.  To have them nesting has always been a joy, if tinged with annoyance as they mess up the lounge cowl.  It goes back to my time at school in Oxford when they nested around the school buildings, and my attempts to attract them to our house with an improvised nest box.  Today I was thinking that they must have hatched eggs by now, so it was devastating when I came home this evening to find the remains of the nest on the drive.

Five nestlings died in the fall, they were not very old, a couple of days at the most for two.  I suspect the increased in and outs to feed them was just too much for the nest and it gave way.  The soffits are UPVC, and when we had these fitted I didn't think they would return, and it would seem the adherence quality is not as good as the painted wood.  The parent birds were still going to the site of the nest, and they will probably re-build and hopefully try for another brood before the end of the summer.

It has been warm and muggy today, but annoyingly overcast, however by early evening blue sky was nudging in from the south east and I decided rather than go for a run I would take an evening walk around Plain Farm.  I parked up at the bottom of the lane to the estate, and as I got out of the car I noticed movement by the field gate.

A Red-legged Partridge, and quite close for once, the blurred edges you see are actually the bars of the gate.  As I walked up the lane I scanned both sides, all that was flying around were Wood Pigeons, and I could hear both Yellowhammer and Chiffchaff singing.  As it was still I was hoping that there may be a good number of Swallows and House Martins feeding near the trees, and that this might attract the attention of a Hobby.

As I approached the cattle grid, I could see the unmistakable profile of a Red Kite flying towards me.  It never came close but just gently drifted off to the east over the tree tops.  I haven't seen one for a while so it was good to catch up with one today.

I continued up the path,and up ahead in front of me was a Swallow and a falcon, but not the one I was looking for.  However it was interesting to watch as the Kestrel tried to hover and hunt, the Swallow kept mobbing it until it moved away from and across the field.  I have not seen a swallow mob a kestrel before.

I walked up to the small pond, the Damselflies were mostly all gone, but there were a few still flying around, and even some pairs still mating.  These are Azure Damselflies, and were flying around before resting on this reed.

I left the pond as there were no butterflies about, and headed off to the quarry.  As I walked along the track I disturbed several grasshoppers, but couldn't locate them, but I also found some moths.  The smaller species just didn't stop, but this Silver Y Moth did.  This is the first I have seen of this day flying migrant moth this year.

The sun was out now, and for early evening it was quite warm, what a difference a little bit of sunshine does to you!

As I walked down to the quarry off the main track I saw a butterfly that wasn't white!  It was my first Speckled Wood of the year, it also look as if it has just emerged as it was in perfect condition.

I walked into the quarry to check on Woodpecker hole number three.  It was ten days since I had found the nest, which had some quite noisy nestlings, and I wondered if they were still there.  It was quiet as I walked to the watch point, and it was clear as I scanned the hole that the birds must have fledged.  It was also very quiet in the quarry which was unusual so I left and headed up the road towards the farm.

Whitethroat sang from the hedge, and Wood Pigeon again exploded from the Poplars.  On the subject of poplars (which we weren't, but it provides a link!), the wood from these and Yew were used to make Longbows in Tudor times.  I learnt this at the wonderful new Mary Rose museum in Portsmouth.  If you get the chance to go it is a fascinating way to spend an afternoon, wonderful time.

Back to Plain Farm, I scanned across the fields, and found a single Lapwing at the back, alongside the hedge, and it was flushed off by a Hare that was wandering slowly along the edge of the field.  The grass is getting long and providing cover for the birds and animals, however this one seemed quite relaxed as it lay in the grass enjoying warm sunshine.

From the length of the ears, and the black marks you can see it is a Hare.  The black marks are there to allow young to see then as they move about in long grass.  These black markings visible for behind only are also found in the big cats such as Lion and Tiger that typically inhabit long grass, for the same reasons.

Linnet and House Sparrows were around the houses, and could be seen drinking from the large puddles.  A Swift flew over my head and out of sight, the number of sightings this now matching last year's two!  Whitethroats played hide and seek in the hedge, they are now turning out to be quite common around the hedges along the lanes on the patch.  On the telegraph wires were Yellowhammer and more Linnets.

At the small copse at the end of the lane I could hear a family party of Blue Tits calling from the Oak trees.  There was a lot of movement, mostly by the adults as they rushed around to feed what look like well developed juveniles, that maybe should be feeding themselves

As I came off the lane and walked along the path, another Whitethroat burst into song, and just to show how shy they seem to be, I managed to find the bird singing from the middle of the bush.

As I walked along the path Song Thrush sang from the scrubby area next to the path, there were in fact two birds singing.  At the bottom end of the path a Chiffchaff sang as I looked out over the field, and two Holly Blue butterflies were flitting about around the holly bushes, evading all my efforts to photograph them.

I walked across the field to Charlwood, and then walked towards Lye Way.  As I walked towards one of the horse paddocks appeared as a pink carpet, which as I got closer turned out to be a carpet of Daisies.

A little further on a movement on the side of the road attracted my attention, and this little fella popped it's head up from out of the grass and buttercups.

Goldfinches and swallows sang their tinkling songs around me as I  passed the houses and stables, but as I turned on to Ly Way, it went quiet.  The canopy of Winchester Wood is now complete, and what is a dark place at the best of times is very dark now, with Beech trees in full leaf, and the only flowers to be seen were small pockets of Woodruff by the side of the road.

As I came down the hill towards the car, the view across the rapeseed field was impressive.  The Rapeseed has had an indifferent year, with many of the fields having large areas that have not developed, leaving bald patches on the landscape, some are still to flower, and this produces a scene that is a little bit more pleasing than the broad swathes of yellow we are used to.

On the way home I stopped at the bridleway to check woodpecker hole one, but like three it was quiet with no sign or sound of any woodpeckers about, hopefully another successful fledging.  As I came back to the car, I noticed a buzzard soaring above Newton Wood, and then over the field this one was perched on the wires, they never really look comfortable, as if their feet are too big to grip properly, and have to balance with the tail.

It was a short outing but worthwhile.  The birds of prey being just as interesting as those found in Scotland, details of our trip there at the end of May here

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