The Flame Shoulder
The Feathered Gothic
Setaceous Hebrew Character
The early morning cloud cleared by mid morning, and we set off to walk around the area, there had been reports of migrant birds turning up in Hampshire and Sussex, and there was always the chance that some might fancy dropping into Four Marks for a change.
The buddleia we passed was getting plenty of attention from the Small White butterflies, but there was nothing else. We headed up Brislands towards Old Down, the view down the lane changing once again, the greens looking tired and washed out, they are badly in need of the autumn colour injection.
Last Tuesday I remarked on the Rowan berries and how many there were, well as we approached the cemetery there was a lot of activity in a Rowan tree covered with berries. Once we were closer it was clear to see that the Blackbirds were tucking into the bonanza already This young bird showing a good liking for the vibrant berries.
White butterflies were everywhere, but I did manage to find this Speckled Wood, the first of many for the day.
It was quiet as we walked along Brislands, the fields had now been harvested, and on the south side there were bales in the field, some were round while there were also some stacked like the old fashioned hay stacks, something you do not see much of these days.
The path through the wood was narrow due to the falling nettles. They seem to have reached their peak, and are now too tall for the stems and are falling over. Very soon they will be dying back. White butterflies flitted along the path, and there would be a few Speckled Woods on the brambles. We headed down the main path towards the West End, stopping in the sun lit areas to see if there were any butterflies about. On one such stop, I thought I saw a larger orange butterfly, but as we waited all we found was a Speckled Wood. Then a larger butterfly appeared being mobbed by another Speckled Wood. When it finally settled in the open I could see it was a Silver Washed Fritillary, but a very washed out and tired looking insect.
The wood was very quiet and still, there would be the odd call of a tit somewhere, but that was it. It was dark, and the sun speckled the dark floor of the wood. Of note this year are the berry stalks of Lords and Ladies. The bright red berries standing out in the gloom.
When we reached the west end, it was back into the sun. The field was partially harvested and the mixture of green in the trees and hedges and the cut wheat and bales was quite pleasing on the eye.
We climbed the style, and walked down through the paddocks, a Kestrel flew up into the Hawthorn bushes, and balanced on a branch as it scanned the field.
I could hear Swallows above us, and some could be seen skimming across the filed around the sheep and cows. As we crossed into the next field I picked up a Kestrel flying low across the grass. It flew up onto the fence and tangled with another that was perched there. For awhile they sat close to each other, then the initial bird lunged at the other again, knocking it to the floor. The first bird then flew off to an oak tree, and soon after the other followed, and as it did you could hear mewing calls, indicating that it was probably a young bird, that the parent was now trying to shake off.
A little further on as we approached the road I picked up a strange looking Gull, that turned out to be a Red Kite. This was the first sighting since mid June, and as it had the gap in the secondary feathers on the wing, I believe it to be one of the pair that I had seen in the spring. It was very distant and continued to drift off towards Ropley.
We crossed the road and walked up Andrews Lane. There were more Speckled Woods in the hedgerow along side the track, and a few harebell flowers in amongst the grass. we scanned the fields and paddocks for birds, but could only find the usual wood pigeons. A little further on we stopped at a gap in the fence, and checked the next hedge. A grey bird flew up into a dead tree, and was quickly followed by another. They were Spotted Flycatchers, and were almost in the same place we had seen them this time last year. They continued to fly out to catch insects, and then return to the branches, it is certainly a popular spot for them, and an area that I had hoped would turn up more migrants, but these seem to be the only ones.
We walked along the path at the top of the hill, and disturbed yet more Speckled Woods. The field along side the path was still unharvested, and there were also some poppies by the edge. As we set off onto the road I noticed a yellow butterfly coming towards me, and as it passed me I could see it was too small for a Brimstone, and that there was dark in the wings. I turned and ran back around to where it was heading, relocating it amongst a small group of whites all nectaring on the yellow flowers by the edge of the field. It was what I thought, a Clouded Yellow. Yet another first butterfly species, the past few weeks being excellent for them.
It looks a little tatty, but then I can forgive it for its appearance as it must have traveled from the Continent to get here. They are not regular migrants to the UK, but this year has seen a small increase in their numbers. I have seen reports of several sightings along the Hampshire coast, so it is really nice to find one here. The black spot, and white dot can be clearly seen here, on the under wing which help distinguish them from a Brimstone.
It would not open its wings as it fed, but as it flew you could see the dark band on the outer edges of the upper side of the wings contrasting with the yellow. I waited and just managed to get this picture as it flew off.
The migrant birds had not really put in an appearance, so it was lovely to find a true migrant butterfly, and as we walked along Lye Way towards the village we reflected on what had turned out to be a good morning, Red Kite, Spotted Flycatcher and of course the Clouded Yellow. But as we reached the end of Lye Way it got even better, a falcon appeared above us, and when I saw the long thin wings I knew this wasn't a Kestrel, and when I picked up the dark moustache, and red under tail, I realised that this was a Hobby, and the first I had seen here that would allow me a good photo opportunity.
It flew over us, and drifted away, only to turn and come back towards us, before gaining height and drifting away towards the south
I assume the Hobbies we get here come from either the south and the New Forest, or from Frensham. The horse paddocks attract the swallows and this year seems to have been a good year for them, so this may be the attraction for the Hobby, hopefully there may be more sightings through the autumn.
We took the footpath towards Old Down from Kitwood, and as we walked through the small paddock a Common Blue flew past us, this time not stopping for a photograph. The field crossing was very dry, even with the rain we have had this weekend. As we came into the wood we found this bracket fungus on some of the fallen tree trunks. It was quite fresh, and I think that it is a Clustered Bracket, but as always I am open to any other suggestions
From the wood we left on the Gradwell path, and made our way back home. The buddleias were still attracting the butterflies in Lymington Rise, and a Red Admiral was the final addition to the butterfly list of the day