Sunday, 15 September 2013

15th September - The Gathering Storm

The weather behaved, and we woke to sunshine, but by the time we had breakfast and were walking down Brislands, the wind had picked up, and there were dark clouds away to the west.  As we came to the clearing by the the Old Down entrance it looked quite gloomy.
  

 We decided to walk down the hill, and come back up towards Old Down from the west footpath.  After clearing the copses, looking north west the clouds were forming some surreal shapes in the sky.  This looked like there was a hole forming, as if we were in a sci fi film.



A little further on we stopped again, and this time the sky was playing tricks away to the south, the dark clouds looking like distant mountains.


 Looking up towards the wood Helen picked up a pair of Roe Deer.  They are very distant, but there is one male with quite a good set of antlers.



There were a few swallows passing, and two meadow pipits flew over calling, but apart from that and of course the Wood Pigeons, once again it was quiet.

Helen found this Drab Bonnet by the side of the road.




 At the bottom of the road, we turned up towards Ropley, and then a little way along we took the footpath up towards Old Down.  As we walked around the field I nearly stood on these Pleated Ink Caps, they are tiny delicate little mushrooms found mostly in rough grassy areas.



The field was left to stubble, but it had little clumps of small poppies amongst it, which as you looked across the field appeared as little pink red spots.



A sign of the approaching weather, a Lesser Black-backed Gull flew over, circling for awhile above Old Down.



It started spitting as we walked into the wood, as a result, it made the wood even darker.  We went along the main path, then took the southern perimeter path.  Again, there were lots of trees down, and it wasn't clear if this was due to vandalism or just a victim of the weather.

Once we started around the east side, we began to find fungi.  This slime mould stood out on a birch tree.  They were once thought of as bizarre fungi, but it turns out they are Protozoa.  They start out as ameoboid organisms, that are free living and ingest bacteria, but also fungi.  When conditions are good they combine to form the mould like appearance, called the plasmodium. The plasmodium is able to move, and oozes over the thing it is feeding on, in the case here, probably a bracket fungus.  This is Fuglio Sepitca.



 There we re quite a few logs covered with bracket fungus.  This one is a Clustered Bracket.


 We came to the pine area, close to the exit, always a good spot for fungi, and just to confirm it there was this Yellowed Brittlegill just emerging on a dead pine log.



We walked across the field towards Gradwell, there was a pair of juvenile Swallows around the horse paddock, but nothing else of interest.  Rather than just head home we decided to walk down Gradwell to take the footpath to Lymington Bottom.  A Jay flew down the lane, and in the field by the gate there were a few Blackbirds feeding.

I could hear a Blackbird calling in alarm and suspected there was an Owl in the tree, but couldn't find anything.  Helen called me back to the gate, as there were birds in the bushes,  On looking I could see Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs feeding on insects amongst the bramble and elderberry.  This one is a distant Chiffchaff.



They were flying about, and difficult to get close.  It was also very dark but I quite like this picture of what is a Willow Warbler.



As we walked on, a Chaffinch was calling in the trees now, it wasn't happy about something, and we both started to search the trees again.  Then Helen, told me come over, and pointed up into the tree, where I could see this looking down at us.




 The Tawny Owl looked at us, then decided it had seen enough and then flew off.  We watched it go up the lane and then across and through the trees and out of sight.  We haven't seen one for a while, and along with the warblers it put a different spring in our step as we walked off to the footpath.

There was nothing much else as we walked the path.  This Rabbit was caught in the middle of the horse paddock, and rather than run, it just seemed to try and flatten low on the ground in an effort to hide from us.




It was still dry as we walked home, but it was very gloomy, and the wind was now quite strong.  We had been lucky, and the walk had restored my enthusiasm, I am sure this September still has something else to deliver.

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