The weekend was forecast to be dry and sunny, but once again it was cloud we saw as we set out to walk around the area this morning. It wasn't cold though, and there was no wind to speak of. It had rained overnight which is always a good sign, and as we walked up Reads Field I could hear Chiffchaffs calling once again.
Collared Doves were on the roof tops, they seem to have done well, and the numbers are the highest I have seen around here. House Sparrows are also doing well, and seem to have replaced the House Martins, flying around, the martins seem to have gone at last.
We walked down the path towards Alton Lane, I could hear tits calling, as well as the alarm calls of a Robin, and as I looked around Redwing flew over calling too. Helen found the culprit, a cat high in the tree that was not very happy. It was having difficulty getting down, so we coaxed it along the branches, and with the help of a long branch managed to guide it down to safety, It was extremely appreciative, and showed it by purring and not wanting to leave us.
We came out into the field to more calling Chiffchaffs, along the hedge there were also Chaffinches and Dunnocks, but one Chiffchaff allowed us a good view as it made its way through the holly
The piles of wood chip were covered with fungi. This is a specialist wood chip species called agrocybe rivulsa, they take advantage of the heat generated by the decomposition that takes place in the heart of the piles
Out onto Alton Lane we headed towards Telegraph, and then down Weathermore and into the wood. As we came to the bridleway we could see clumps of fungi on dead tree stumps. These are sheathed Woodtuft, and it looks like a miniature habitation.
On either side of the bridleway we were finding fungi and mushrooms in the leaf litter and under the bramble bushes. The dead and old tree stumps were also covered with either white mould or forms of fungi. These are Flat Oysterlings, and are kidney shaped from the top view with a thin stipe.
These two are Chestnut Dapperlings, the dark patches being formed by darker coloured fibres
some of the fungi along the lane were damaged or eaten, but this one was very clean and untouched, what nick there was could probably be put down to the surround branches as it grew. It is definitely a Death Cap.
We came off Weathermore Lane, and crossed the road and up the bridleway through Lord's Wood. This wood is different from the others in the area, it is dominated by Larch and Pine, and has very dark and wet soil. I don't know where the water comes from, but you always seem to be walking through mud along this path. As a result there were some different fungi. This is nInocybe Godeyi, a common fungi found around coniferous trees on chalk.
One I haven't seen before is this Bay Bolete, normally associated with Birch trees.
Robins were singing around us and we could hear Goldcrests inthe pines. Above the tree canopy there was a calling Buzzard, we could see the shadow flying above us, but it never came into view.
We left the wood and walked up Kitcombe Lane. This is a corridor of mostly hazel, and again there were clumps of fungi to keep us interested. These were some of the best we managed to find.
A Blushing Wood Mushroom.
And some Lilac Bonnets
We came off the lane and into the field. A month ago there was some bird life here, but the hedges were quiet. It wasn't until we reached the middle of the field that we began to see some activity. We flushed Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Yellowhammers from the stubble. The Yellowhammers flew to the surrounding hedges while the others flew around and disappeared into the stubble in the field.
Into the next field and the hope of some migrants, but a apart from the calls of Chiffchaff again it was quiet. We climbed over the stile, and then down the path towards Newtown Farm. We could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling, and I also found a calling Nuthatch at the top of one of the trees.
The maize was still there, and quite high, as we walked past it you couldn't help wonder what was in the middle. Pied Wagtails flew over calling, and as we came past the barns the wagtails seemed to be everywhere. There were both adult and juvenile birds everywhere, I counted nine. The roof is always popular, as it warms up and attracts the insects.
As we walked past the Owl Box Barn we disturbed a Jay, and a group of four Bullfinches, as they flew off they all dropped down into the maize, answering my earlier question.
We walked down past the plantation, and came across a group of birds. We could hear Blue and Great Tits, and saw a couple of Goldcrests that were calling too. My interest was in a call, that I thought to be Coal Tit, but the call wasn't right. We waited and the bird showed, and it was a Coal Tit.
The sun was now out, and it was quite warm. Looking down the footpath it still looked very green.
Along the side of the path, the Blackberries were going past there best, and were attracting plenty of flys and bees, and also the Comma butterfly. Up to now all we had seen were Speckled Wood, but on these blackberries we found four Comma, and two Large Whites. The Comma is a beautiful, and possibly overlooked butterfly.
We crossed the road, and then walked along the bridleway. A feature of today's walk was the sound of falling hazel nuts and acorns, but an annoying feature was the spider's webs that kept wrapping themselves around our faces as we walked along.
We came across one long strand of silk that came down from a tree, and was anchoring a large web. Looking up we found the owner hiding, waiting under a hazel leaf.
It looks like a Garden Cross Spider, you can make out the white mark on the body. They are an orb spider that typically make a vertical and circular web, you can make out some of the web in this picture.
We came up the hill to the road, and then we carried on towards Swelling Hill. On the corner there was a little group of thrushes, I could hear Fieldfare, but was only able to find a Mistle Thrush in the tree.
As we walked towards the school, the clouds were once again gathering, and the sun had gone. However the clouds looked quite impressive the big white cumulus looking spectacular against the darker clouds.
Another spider caught my eye, it was another orb spider, but I couldn't identify it. I think it typifies the season. Again you can see the web, and some of its victims. Its a lovely silohuette
We then walked along Lymington Bottom towards home. A nice walk, I counted only 22 calling Chiffchaffs today, my next challenge will be to count the number of singing robins, that I am sure will be quite a few. For the record I am currently on 81 birds for the year, last year I reached 85. There are still some missing this year, but there is always the chance of others, and this time of year can turn up anything.