The first day of the meteorological Autumn, and after the clear blue skies of August yesterday, the sunshine was a little more watery today. It was also cooler with a fresh breeze. We decided to walk an area we haven't been to recently, in fact as we walked we decided the last time we had been this way was in the snow in February.
Our walk took us across the field between Blackberry and Alton Lane, and then up Alton Lane to Weathermore Lane. To say it was quiet once again was an understatement, there was nothing about. The odd Speckled Wood was seen along the lanes and in the sunny spots, but other than that there was nothing.
It wasn't until we were walking along Weathermore Lane that we found something of interest. One of the fallen trees was covered in fresh fungi, these are Common Bonnets, and we all over the trunk.
A Little further on the sun was able to break through the tree cover, and as a result we came across many Speckled Woods. They are usually the first butterflies to move about at this time of year due to their colour, and ability to absorb the warmth of the autumnal sun. In fact we were going to see Speckled Woods everywhere this morning, but this one stayed still and allowed me to photograph it
Further on a Weary looking Gatekeeper enjoyed some sun on a dead pile of bracken.
We walked through Lords Wood, where there were even more Speckled Woods, but other than that it was very quiet, the odd Blue Tit would call, and a Wren would rattle out a song from a distance, but it was very dead.
We came out of the wood, and then took Kitcombe Lane towards the Maryanne plantation. We decided to walk across the field, rather than walk along the lane. Just as we were thinking that all we were going to see was butterflies, as we came over the stile, a small flock of birds flew to the corner, and a Buzzard was disturbed from the tree in the field.
The small birds were Yellowhammers, and they were flitting about in the top of the trees.
We stood and watched, and Helen pointed out a small bird in the corner, getting on it, I could see it was a Spotted Flycatcher. The bleached branch it was sitting on, was obviously suiting it, and it made several flights out to catch something. I approached slowly, taking several shots as I walked closer. This was the closest I could get.
That is four so far this year, which is as good as last year, nice to see a bird that I went a long while missing. As we stood watching the flycatcher a call above me was unmistakably a Yellow Wagtail, but I couldn't find it which was a disappointment, but under the rules it counts as a new bird.
We walked across the field, and climbed the stile into the next one Looking to the right I noticed a small bird on the fence post, and was amazed to find that it was a female Redstart. A male in the spring was a first for the patch, so this was a lovely find. It was difficult to get close to though, just like the male in April, so I had to settle on this record shot.
We stopped again to try and refind the Redstart, it had flown off into a small clump of trees in the middle of the field. It appeared on a stump, and as I watched Helen said there was another in the tree. I found the bird Helen had seen, and it was yet another Spotted Flycatcher. We watched them for awhile, then headed off to the road, and then along the lane towrds Newtown Farm.
A Comma butterfly flew onto Helen's white t-shirt, than off and away from us. In the filed was a large herd of cows, but no birds. We came around the road and turned past the farm buildings, Helen pointed out what she thought was a House Sparrow, but when I found it with the binoculars I was delighted to see it wasn't a sparrow at all, but a Whinchat, another new patch tick!
There have been quite a few about in the south recently, so it was great to find one here today. It didn't stay long though, as it quickly flew from the fence and across the cow field and away towards the Maryanne Plantation. So we had gone very quickly from nothing about to two new birds for the patch and a couple of quality migrants.
We walked on past the barns. I continued to check the wagtails around the barns for Yellows, but they were all Pied Wagtails. A few Swallows flew over now, and the sun had burned some of the cloud, and it was quite warm. With this came more butterflies, the Speckled Woods were still about, but they were now joined by Large and Small Whites.
We walked down the hill towards Kitwood, and crossed the road and walked along the bottom of the bridleway. A Chiffchaff sang briefly, and I could hear one also calling from in the wood. We turned up the path by the side of Kitwood Plantation, and then out onto the road. As we walked along the road, Helen's t-shirt became an attraction once again, this time to a Forest Bug.
As we came around the corner just before the junction with Swellinghill Road, there was plenty of bird activity in the trees. I could see Blue, Great and Marsh Tits, and there was a male Blackcap, in the hedge, and a Nuthatch calling in the oak tree above us. That was to be allf or the day though, as we made our way down towards the school and then up Gradwell, it went quiet again. The butterflies were still about, but no more birds, but then I shouldn't really complain, two new ticks, was something I hoped for, but didn't expect.
Here are some of the new moths found in the trap over the weekend, I am getting good numbers in the trap overnight, but as a tip, if you decide to take up this past time, keep the house windows closed as they also like to come in there too, we have never seen so many moths!
This is an Angle Shades a beautifully marked immigrant moth
This one is a Treble Bar
and this the rather elaborately named Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing
And finally the Pearly Underwing