On Friday they were predicting a barbecue weekend, and with Friday's weather you could believe it, but by Saturday morning the doubts were creeping in, as grey cloud covered the sky, never mind Sunday will be better, but once again the morning dawned grey, and there was even drizzle.
After clearing the moth trap (more of which later), we decided to head down to Plain Farm, and to walk the circuit there, I hadn't been here for awhile, and despite the fact that last time it was so quiet, I still feel that it has the potential to turn up a surprise in the autumn. We walked up the hill towards the estate, and on either side of the path were large white Field Mushrooms.
These are supposed to be edible, but I would not trust myself to try.
We continued over the cattle grid, and then up to the pond, I wondered if the water would be an attraction for birds, but when we got there, it was clear to see it wasn't. The pond was covered in green pond weed, and there was no sign of any birds!
We turned around, and headed down the footpath towards the quarry. Looking across the field Helen pointed out a Roe Deer. It was a female, and she just stood and watched us as we walked towards here.
It wasn't until a group of cyclists came out of the estate buildings that she was spooked, and ran off with a bounding, jumping stride.
The grass on the path, and either side was long and damp from the dew overnight, the perfect conditions for fungi. We walked into the quarry, in the hope that there would be some birds, there wasn't, but as we turned to walk out we found ourselves almost stepping on small patches of fungi. These are Snapping Bonnets.
They can be so small and delicate as they emerge.
We headed across the road, and up the lane towards Plain Farm. A Kestrel, probably a young male sat on the pole as we walked up the hill. Normally they are very flighty, but this time we seemed to be able to use the slop to ensure we didn't break the sky line, and it allowed us to get quite close.
They are quite a sweet looking falcon, but I am sure the mice and voles don't feel that way!
As we came to the barn and the cottages I noticed a large gathering of birds on the wires. A closer look showed them to be Goldfinches, both young and old collected together. In total I counted 47 here, the most I have seen together.
As we watched the Goldfinches, I noticed some movement below them, and was amazed to find this little group.
I am not sure how wild they are, but I did see a pair of Mallard around here in the spring, and there is a pond by the cottages, so I can only assume these are there offspring. While they seemed nervous they didn't hide, they just kept watching us.
The hedges alongside the lane, and the field were alive with birds. The Goldfinches could be heard tinkling over head, suddenly there were Swallows and House Martins flying through, with at least one Sand Martin, and both Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs could be heard and seen in the elderberry bushes. The warblers were electric quick, and it was difficult to get on them with the camera.
They would chase each other about in between fly catching from the bushes. Sometimes they would fly up to the wires, but would not stay long enough for me to change the exposure on the camera to compensate for the background light.
As we walked along the lane the activity tailed off, even the swallows stopped moving as well. we walked past the cottages, and then along the footpath. We could hear the odd "seep" from the bushes, and the sound of Blackbirds in the bramble bushes eating the blackberries, but nothing showed. Along side the path though there was this interesting fungus. The cap was almost furry, with a lacy edge. I think it is a Fibre Cap of some sort, maybe Fruity Fibre cap, but I am not sure.
We checked the fields at the end of the path, but it was quiet, we could hear gun shots, but were not sure if it was the gas guns, or the real thing, I suppose only the pheasants will know that.
We crossed the field to Charlwood, and walked along the road. Once again the wires were an attraction to the birds, this time to about eight Yellowhammers. There were adult and juvenile birds, the latter being most obvious with the shorter tails and more drab plumage.
Whilst it was still overcast it was quite humid, and you sensed that if the sun did come out it was going to be warm, however it never did. It was also very still, with hardly any wind, and this made it very quiet, with only the melancholy song of the Robin. The song is the same as that sung in the spring, it's just that at this time of year it is the only song, and it punctuates the silence and sounds quite sad.
We turned on to Lye way and headed down the road back towards the car. It takes us past Winchester wood which is a mixture of sandy soil with bracken and the dark beech woods. Consequently there were some interesting fungi, these being the best.
A Trooping Funnel
and a quite spectacular Magpie Ink Cap.
We could see Swallows and Martins over the tree tops as we returned to the car, and of course the ever present Wood Pigeons, but that was it. Not a disaster like last time, but something about to keep us interested.
As I mentioned at the start, I had the moth trap out this weekend. The conditions were ideal especially on Saturday night, and I was able to catch some very good numbers, the most being the Large yellow Under-wing. Here are some of the more interesting new species caught, and it was nice to share them with Simon and his family
large Yellow Under-wing
Least Yellow Underwing
Identifying the moths is not easy, so if anyone out there feels I have got these wrong, please let me know as I am just starting out on this wonderful discovery of these beautiful creatures!