Sunday, 27 October 2013

27th October - The Calm is Over Long Before the Storm

Once again the overnight rain died away just after dawn, but there was a very strong wind.  The clocks had gone back overnight, so I was out quite early on, and decided to walk around the
Rotherfield Estate and Plain Farm, I couldn't face a walk around Old Down with the current state it is in.

The Sunday newspapers were full of dramatic warnings of a super storm that was going to hit the south later today, with strong winds in excess of 80 mph moving through overnight.  The wind had already picked up as I walked up the hill, and looking down towards the quarry path, orange leaves were being blown across the path between the trees.

I walked up to the pond, but it was very quiet, then turned to walk past the barn, and down the path towards the open parkland that over looks the village of East Tisted.  As I passed the oak tree a Kestrel flew out and then headed off towards the trees in the distance.  It perched on a branch, and as I watched it you could see it was having difficulty perching on the branch in the wind.  It found the most comfortable position to be with the body held horizontal, and the head looking down.

As I approached closer it flew off, initially into the wind with difficulty, then it banked, and came past me at speed with the very strong tail wind.

I reached the style, and looked across the park.  The trees are still very green here, but there were some signs of autumn colour.  You can just make out East Tisted church between the trees.

I turned to head back to the barn, and ultimately to make my way to the quarry, but looking to my left the beech tree avenue looked lovely.

The trees are only just beginning to change, with the season being about two weeks later than normal, probably due to the mild weather we have had just recently.  However with the high winds that are forecast, the chance is they will be gone very soon too, so I took the time to capture some autumn colour with the blue skies today.  This is the south side of the Mountains Plantation as I walked down towards the quarry

There was more bird calls in the quarry than there has been for some time, probably due to the shelter it afforded, birds don't call in high winds, its a waste of energy.  I managed to find Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest and this splendid Great Tit.

I left the calling birds, and crossed the road and up towards Plain Farm.  It was quiet past the barns, with no sign of any Chaffinch or House Sparrow, another sign of the plentiful natural food, or maybe the deteriorating weather conditions?

Coming up the hill, the oak tree in the field stood out rather dramatically.

The strong wind was causing the smaller birds to take cover in the hedgerow.  Above as I walked the lane I could hear Skylark, but I couldn't find them.  There had been a small passage yesterday, and it seemed the movement was continuing today.

As I came onto the footpath the sun came out and lit up the colour on the edge of Winchester Wood.

The footpath was covered in Sweet Chestnuts, either blown down by the strong winds, or more likely due to the ripeness of the chestnuts naturally fallen.

Despite the cover along the path, the wind was still very strong, and there was no calls or any sign of birds in the bushes.  At the end of the path, I walked to the other field.  I noticed two shapes moving on the edge of the field, and as I watched they started to walk into the filed, two Roe Deer, that were cautious at first but soon became a little braver, and started to graze.

As I watched the deer, I noticed two buzzards seemingly playing above the tops of the trees.  There was a group of beech trees here, and once again the ground was covered in mast, and I could hear tits and chaffinches calling.  I spent some time "pishing" and managed to coax this male Chaffinch out.

After scanning the next field, and finding only a Jay, I  headed towards Charlwood Lane.  I scanned the fields to the west, and it was quiet, but a little further on at the entrance to the two fields I happened to look to the west, and immediately saw a large flock of birds.  I knew at once they were Golden Plover.  They flew between the two fields at first.

From this photograph I counted 143, but there were more behind the hedge.  They came back and headed out into the field.

It is very difficult to count in this picture, but it is clear that it was a large flock.  I walked along the edge of the field, in the hope I could get a better view, but they must have settled down in a dip out of the wind and I could not find them.  I waited to see if they flew up, but they didn't so I headed back to the road.  

I was walking back to the car, but the day wasn't finished as a large black bird with a diamond shaped tail flew over me, a Raven and my first since April.  Unfortunately it had a tail wind, and was gone before I could get the camera ready.

I walked back to the car via Dogford wood, but the fungi I hoped might be under the beech were not there.  I drove back via Lye Way, but saw nothing else but another Kestrel, precariously balanced in the wind on top of a telegraph pole.

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