Sunday, 10 November 2013

10th November - The Falling Leaves of Red and Gold

It was very wet and miserable Saturday, but overnight the skies cleared and the morning brought blue skies and that low late autumn sunshine.  After breakfast I decided to check out the woods, I wanted to see how the forestry work was progressing, and also to see if the recent storms had caused any additional damage.

With the sun also came autumn colour, at last.  We are almost in the middle of the month of November, and it is only now the trees are beginning to put on a show.  I read previously that the leaf colours were about two to three weeks late, around here it seems more like four weeks. As I left the garden the larger acers were juts starting to put on a show.


Magpies and Jays were calling as I walked along Lymington Bottom, and a pair of Jays at the junction with Brislands seemed to be having an almighty argument.  I could hear them calling, but only managed to see them once they flew off.

Looking down Brislands it seems it is slowly changing in colour.


The beech trees though are providing the colour, the oaks still very green as can be seen in this picture.


he Holly trees are full of berries, and as I walked towards one I could see the leaves moving, a little closer and I could see why.


Redwing were feeding on the berries, ripping them off, then flying off into the surrounding trees.  They were not the only birds tucking in, a pair of Blackbirds were also present and this rather splendid looking Great Tit, although I don't think it was interested in the berries, probably the spiders and insects amongst the leaves.


Every so often the Redwing would appear in the open tree alongside the holly.


As seems to be the case this autumn, a flock of Long-tailed Tits called from the hedge, and then responded to my calls, coming very close to the camera.


I carried on along Brislands towards the wood.  Away over the Watercress Line the woods alongside the track were giving a wonderful show in the November sunshine.


The entrance to the wood was almost blocked by the piles of logs and trailers.  It would seem that they are taking out the larch trunks, and they are all piled up neatly waiting patiently to go.


Away from the entrance the path started to get very muddy and difficult.  The recent rain can not have helped, and the deep ridges and tracks have filled with water and mud, these are deceptively deep in places, and now wellingtons are essential.

At the cross roads the usual paths are now dwarfed by the huge tracks that have been made into the plantations on either side.  The ruts have filled with water and there is a large deep pool. I understand that they have to do this so the trees have to be removed, but I just hope the damage is not permanent.  Heavens knows what will have happened to the butterfly eggs and bluebells.


I headed down the path towards the west.  This seems to be the only part of the wood that hasn't been decimated by the tractors,  The path is intact and the trees have been allowed to show their lovely colours.


The logs waiting to be taken away are the larch, but there are also beech trees being felled, but the trunks of these appear to just be left lying where they fell, like dead bodies.


There is definitely more light though, and you can see the surrounding fields from the paths, this view caught my eye as I walked past the gate into the field.


Rather than walk to the west end, I decided to turn back along the perimeter towards Old Down Cottage.  It was hear I came across the first storm casualty   This tree has suffered damage before, but the recent storm has finally put paid to it.  The result of the fall though has completely blocked the path, which has meant another track has been started in order to get around the fallen giant.


A Little further on more larches have been cleared, and this has opened up the area, and I disturbed a small flock of Chaffinches feeding on the fallen beech mast.  I scanned through them to see if there was a Brambling present, but I couldn't see any.  This female Chaffinch did perch conveniently for me though.


The path was blocked now with debris from clearing the larches, so I walked along the opening made by the tractors, and then out onto the main path to the south.  At the Beech tree the path is flooded, and has been opened up more, changing the view yet again.


I turned once again onto the perimeter, and made my way towards the Gradwell entrance.  The Larches have been cleared out here too, and it seems like there is definitely more light getting in.  The larches that were left are changing colour, there orange leaves contrasting beautifully against the blue sky.


As I looked at the trees I could hear calls and see movement high up in the branches.  I started to pick out different birds in the flocks that were moving through.  This was a Marsh Tit.


I watched Coal, Blue and Great Tits flit through the branches, and the usual flock of Long-tailed Tits.  Unusually this Goldcrest allowed me the chance to get a photograph of it amongst the autumn coloured larch leaves.


A larger bird flew across in front of me, and then into the tree close by, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, and it gradually worked its way along a branch and out into the sun.


This seems to be the pattern just now.  I walk through the wood dumbstruck by the destruction and damage, then find an open patch where the birds put on a good show.  It leaves me in two minds, will this benefit the area for them?  Only time will tell.

I left the wood, and made my way to the Gradwell entrance, past the horse paddocks.  At the footpath sign there was another victim of the recent storm.  A huge branch had been broken off the large Oak Tree, but fortunately it had fallen across the path, providing an archway.


It was now getting close to midday, and the sun's rays had some warmth, so as I walked along Brislands I kept an eye on the ivy and hawthorn that was in full sun.  There might be a late butterfly.  I did find a butterfly as suspected, but it wasn't the Red Admiral or Comma I was expecting, but a pristine Brimstone.  It flew along the hedge before finally settling in the sun.  It looked like it must have just emerged, and now its task will be to find somewhere to hibernate.  It sat still in the sunshine.


I always thought the butterfly used its wings to warm up in the sun, but it turns out the wings have no means of transferring head to the body through liquids, the wings are used to protect the warmth there maybe on the leaf or surface, and to direct it towards the body of the insect.  In the case of this Brimstone it is making sure its body is exposed to the sun.

As I made my way home, I disturbed a pair of Blackbirds feeding on hawthorn berries, and a Nuthatch flew over with a beech seed in its bill.  The sun had reached it peak, but was low in the sky, and it was a real indication that winter was just beginning. 

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