Every evening Helen and I go for a run, we walk up Reads Field, and then through the play area and along the footpath. Every evening we do this there is a huge commotion coming from an ivy covered tree close to the main path.
The commotion is the sound of chattering House Sparrows at roost, there seems to be an awful lot of them in there, and this morning just around dawn I walked up there to see if I could catch them coming out. As I approached I could hear them chattering away, then suddenly they stopped, a sure sign that they are considering leaving the roost. It was still quite dark as it was an overcast misty morning, and I could see some on the outside of the ivy
Then slowly they began to leave the roost, and I started counting. The first to leave was a group of 12, and they flew into the hedge, and then left individually. Small groups of this size continued to fly out, but they would first move to the edge of the ivy before leaving.
As it became lighter more left, flying off in different directions. I had counted 102 when the departures seemed to stop, an amazing count, and as the House Sparrow is a creature of habit, I expect this roost to be used through the winter, and I would imagine the numbers will increase once the colder weather comes.
I decided to spend some time walking around the footpaths and hedges, it had been clear overnight, but a mist was developing now, and you never know what might be about. As I headed off up the path there were Redwing calls above me, and I counted a flock of 37 going over. I could also hear Fieldfare but I only managed to see definitely two birds.
The House Sparrows were not the only gregarious birds this morning, there was also a group of Starlings at the top of a conifer calling away to themselves.
I walked down the path towards Alton Lane, in the hedges I could hear Chiffchaffs and plenty of Goldcrests. Every so often a Goldcrest would break the cover of the leaves, but not long enough for me to photograph them.
Walking up through the filed it was quiet but for the Wood Pigeons and Rooks. The scrub behind the garden centre has been cleared away, and the over turned soil was am attraction for the Robins and a few Dunnocks. I had hoped the elder bushes may have held some warblers, but with them gone now there was no chance. I made do then with the dew on this spider's web on the gate. It looked beautiful through the view finder, and it still looks the same as the finished product.
I followed the path down past the Shetland pony field, the foals of the summer looking bigger, but still retaining there shaggy coats. I could hear Chaffinches and the odd Blue Tit, but there was nothing in the field or on the fence posts.
It wasn't until I reached the end of the path by the road that I came across a large flock of tits, mainly Long-tailed there was also some Blue and Greats. They were feeding in the Elder bushes, and one gave me another chance to photograph it.
I crossed the road and headed into Homestead Farm. Suddenly there was a lot of Long-tailed Tit calls, and I turned around to see them gathering on the power line running alongside the road
I had been hearing Pied Wagtail for awhile, and now the call was louder. I scanned around and found it in a familiar position on the top of a barn roof. You can almost guarantee you will get Pied Wagtails on these types of roof, they must attract the insects.
As I walked close to the hedges I could hear Dunnock calling, and also plenty of Robins singing. A small bird flew in, and started calling, it sounded like a coal tit, and I stopped to make sure it wasn't something else, and when it appeared it was indeed a Coal Tit, I'll keep trying! As I watched the tit in the tree, I saw some other movement and found this Nuthatch in the middle of the tree.
I carried on, and came out into the open and picked up a group of eight birds flying together, when they called I realised that they were Skylark. They were moving south, flying over my head.
I looked back down towards the road and the footpath I had come along, and I noticed that the mist was rolling back in again.
The path took me out onto the road at Kitwood, and I looked down the road towards the school. There is a tunnel created by the hazel trees here, and there were Chaffinches and Great Tits on the road. It would appear they were taking advantage of the hazel nut bounty, and the passage of cars. The hazel nuts fall onto the road, and the cars tyres crush and crack the nuts providing the birds with an easy feast.
I crossed into the paddock, and then walked across the field towards the wood. I could hear the saws in the wood, and every so often there would be the crash of a tree, and the Wood Pigeons and corvids would all fly up.
In the far west corner I picked up a large bird over the top of the trees. The flight and shape was unmistakable, a Grey Heron. They are often seen around the area and I have flushed one from the pond, I imagine this time of year they are on the prowl around garden ponds, and I suspect that this one will be the same bird seen around Four Marks. Once they find a source of food they will not give it up. It makes a nice change to post a photograph of a water bird other than a Moorhen or Mallard.
I went into the wood and turned along the perimeter path towards Gradwell, I wanted to see if the rain had brought out any new fungi. I was in luck, I found a nice specimen of Yellow Swamp Brittlegill. They are usually found around birch and moss, and after rain in dam conditions.
A little further on another new species, this time an Orange Grisette. When they first emerge they look like a small orange, but as they age the cap flattens out and the go browner.
As I came out of the woods I heard Magpies, and i saw a flock of seven birds coming across the field. I only managed to get two in flight, which was good luck!
Coming up Brislands I found a tree that every year is covered in Honey Fungus. It is the same every year, and the fungus must be systematically breaking down the tree from the inside. When the fungi is not there it looks quite healthy, but this is an amazing crop, with brackets appearing at least 3 metres high.
Up close they look quite creepy...
I carried on down the lane to home, the mist had cleared, and the forecast was changing, it looked like we may get a dry day after all.
Back home I checked the moth trap. Fopr the first time since I have had the trap on Tuesday morning there was nothing in it. The was not much today, I only had a few micro moths which I don't have the patience to identify, two Large Yellow Underwings, and this beautiful Angle Shades.
I was going to go out this evening, but decided against it, as it happens I would have missed a treat. Helen called from the kitchen to look into the garden, and there in the tree by the bird feeder sat a female Sparrowhawk. Of course she was gone by the time I retrieved the camera, I just hope the sparrow roost stays at 102!