Sunday, 27 October 2013

26th October - Weapons of Mass Destruction

Overnight rain, gave way to some blue sky and clouds by about 8.30 am, so I set off in the hope that the showers would keep away.  The garden has been very quiet for October, a sign of the natural food that is readily available  but as I came out of the back door there were three Blue Tits in the tree, flirting with the feeders.

There was a lot of birds flying overhead, a flock of Redwing flew over calling, and there was quite a sizeable flock of Starling about.  They start to build up about now, and I would estimate we have about 60 plus just now.  This was a smaller flock, and they settled in the Sycamore tree, and I watched them feeding on the seeds that are on the tree in abundance

I decide to head towards Old Down, and as I walked up the hill along Brislands I noticed the first real signs of the development starting.  The hedgerow had been opened up with three trees cut down, this is where the trucks are going to enter the site, and make a complete mess of the lane.

A robin sang its sad winter song, and it seemed appropriate, a sad song for the pending destruction that was to come.

At the cemetery, looking down the lane there was the first real sign of autumn colour, while the trees still retain their greens yellow and orange leaves line the lane.

Robins could be heard along the lane, and this particular individual could be seen quite clearly banging out it's tune, totally unconcerned as I came in close for the picture.

As I walk along the lane, I check all the gardens and open ground, as I passed the last garden before the fields I always look for the rabbits, but they were not there today, only a distant pair of Jays.

Last year we were seeing Jays almost every where.  This year despite the abundance of acorns and beech mast they have not been so conspicuous, this probably means we had an influx of migrant birds last year.

As I walked along the open part of the lane I could hear Yellowhammer, and Chaffinches in the hedge.  In an open part covered in bracken a Wren called, and I waited until it popped out in answer to my calls.

The entrance to the wood has been changed beyond recognition  All the ground ahs been covered in brick, to make a substantial road for the trucks, and down the side trailers are parked with Larch trunks loaded and ready to be taken away.

As I walked down the now open lane, the road changed to mud with deep and flooded track marks.  Everywhere seemed light and open, but when I reached the normal turn off to take the north perimeter, the change was really evident.

The path was gone, and a new wide opening had been carved out.  Al the Larch trees had been removed and it looked completely different.  I finally managed to locate the path, and made my way around the northern edge of the wood.

I could hear flocks of tits in the canopy, but couldn't find them.  On my left hand side you could see the devastation the logging had done, with everywhere open and full of light.  I made my way to the West End, and scanned across the fields.  As usual there were Wood Pigeon moving across the sky, and a couple of crows in the field.

As I made my way back into the wood I could hear machinery, and as I reached the dark conifer plantation I came across machinery stripping the branches off conifer trunks.

I am quite happy to see this plantation stripped out, but unfortunately the tractors and machines that get in there are causing havoc along the paths and the surrounding scrub.

It was nice to see that the path up towards the crossroads was untouched, but you have to wonder for how long.

The crossroads looks so different it it difficult to orientate your self. 

I turned an headed toward the Old Down cottage exit, and again everything was just devastated.  At first it was difficult to find the right path, with huge swathes of devastation cutting across the footpath, and normal tracks.

At one point you can see through the trees and out acrsoo towards Ropley from the main footpath.

Fortunately the lovely Beech Tree is still there, but the scene around it looks like another wood.

At the beginning of last year when I spent some time in Chawton Wood, they were conducting forestry work then, and this looks very similar.  I haven't been back there since, so I don't know how that faired.  I will continue to be open minded, and hope that this work will revitalise the wood.  Who knows next spring I might see the red flash of a Redstart, or hear the trill of a Wood Warbler, and everything will be so wonderful, but right now all I see is a war zone, and it is a little depressing to say the least.

I left the wood and walked to the pond.  As usual I flushed a pair of Moorhen immediately, but as I walked around the edge of the pond, a pair of Mallard posed quite nicely for me. 

I crunched my way around the pond, walking on acorns and cob nuts.  The water was moving, and I could see the dorsal fins of carp.  I creeped closer, and could see the fish just below the surface.

The pond is just beginning to show signs of autumn too, so it was time for a panorama.

I left the pond and walked towards Kitwood.  The horse paddocks were quiet with no thrushes, so I then climbed the style, and walked back towards Old Down across the field.  Last week I felt the wood looked thinner, but changed my mind, this week it does look thinner on the left hand side, and you can see it from a distance.  It will be interesting to compare photographs through out the winter to see how the changes impact the wood.

As I got closer  I watched two Buzzards soaring above the tree tops, who knows perhaps they appreciate the open spaces now.

Of note as I crossed the field was a small movement of Skylark, I counted at least a dozen heading south west.

I climbed the gate and went to see if Morris's tree had survived.  It had but there was more devastation around it.  Understandably there was no sign of the owl.  As I turned to walk back I could hear a large flock of tits, so I decided to make the most of the open tracks, and walked into the are.  I stood by a holly tree and "pished" and started to attract the birds out of the cover. First out was a Coal Tit.

It was then joined buy a Long-tailed Tit

A Great Tit put in an appearance.

And then a pair of Long-tailed Tits appeared

The Long-tailed Tits never fail to amuse me, and I can watch their antics all the time.  I love the way this one is looking at me.

There were also a pair of Goldcrests but I was not able to photograph them.  When I finally left the flock, I realised that if it hadn't been for the clearance then I would not have been able to get close to the flock, so it made me think that maybe the work could benefit, I just wish it did not look so devastated.

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