It seems that winter is finally here. There was another frost this morning and the forecast is for it to remain cols over the next few days and into the weekend. The upside is though we get beautiful blue skies and a lovely warm sunlight. The Acers in the garden is still hanging on to its leaves, and putting on an incredible show of orange and reds. This year they are later and brighter than I can remember an incredible display
I took the chance for a lunchtime walk, and headed off to the farm area, there were some spots on Saturday that I wished I had explored a bit more, and with the sunshine I wanted to see if I had missed anything.
Leaving the car in the usual spot I headed back up the road, looking across to the track where Winchester Wood met the fields the sun was catching the leaves of the oaks and sweet chestnuts.
Looking across towards the Mountains plantations the long shadows created by the low November sun was producing another landscape effect that I just couldn't resist.
The low sun was transforming the usually dark patch of woodland by the road. This is Winchester Wood, and was once joined with all the other local woods such as Dogford, Newtown, and even Old Down. Farming has opened up the area, but these little patches of ancient woodland remain.
The fallen beech leaves creating an orange carpet that contrasts against the still green foliage of the ferns and bracken.
Looking along the road, the edges are lines with more orange beech leaves, and the sunlight is now getting through where the leaves are falling and allowing it in.
Instead of taking my normal route along the road, I decided to walk through the woods, who knows I may have stumbled on another Woodcock. As is always the case when you look, there was nothing there. I came out on to the track anbd was greeted with yet another beautiful view. The delicate yellows of the birch leaves back lit along with the deeper oranges of the beeches providing an wonderful canvas.
And then a little further on a superb beech tree, the branches reaching down to the ground, the leaves still in place, but with some drifting away in the breeze. Beech trees are beautiful trees at any time, but I think they come into their glory in the autumn, and this year we have had an amazing display.
The path now takes you around towards the footpath at the end of Plain Farm, as I came out into a clearing I could hear birds calling from the top of the trees, and as I looked I saw quite a few fly in. Lesser Redpoll has avoided me so far this year, and I scanned quickly through the tops of the trees, but all I could find were these Goldfinches, seemingly tearing away at buds on the tips of the branches.
The path winds around under the beech trees, and I went past a couple of seed feeders. We had stopped here on Saturday for coffee, and after we had left I had wished I had explored a little further. Like today then there were Chaffinches and Tits calling, but with all the food about would there be anything else?
I stood and called, and was immediately aware of a lot of birds in the beech tree above my head. I scanned though them and soon found one with a pale belly, and orange on the shoulders.
A female Brambling, and very quickly I located this male, cleaning its bill after feeding on the branch.
I watched and counted at least five birds, three males and two females, there were probably more, but it was difficult to be certain looking into the bright light at the top of the trees. Ian had thought he had seen pale rumped birds on Saturday, and you can be pretty sure they were there. As I mentioned I felt after I should have checked and today's find confirms it. The only bird this year has been the single male in a garden in Badger Close, so it was nice to catch up with them in more natural surroundings
I decided to leave them, and walked around to the main field, I always have the hope that one day I will see that gliding flight of a Harrier or Short-eared Owl going around the field edges, and as I scanned across I stopped, and checked, there was a raptor coming low out of the haze, but as it reached the shadows I could see it was a Buzzard. Still its a development!
I went back to the main footpath, and disturbed a few Blackbirds from the hedge. Looking across the field as we did on Saturday, I could see some small birds in the trees on the edge of the field. These were mostly Chaffinch but I also managed to find this male Brambling. It is there you just have to search!
As I walked along the path I flushed out two pairs of Bullfinches, unfortunately they didn't stop which was a shame as they would have looked gorgeous in today's light. At the cottages a Robin sang in the sunshine, then it dropped closer for me to see and get a very nice shot again in the wonderful light.
Another male Bullfinch flew away from me, and in the distance I could see a Kestrel on the pole. I decided to pull in so that I did not make myself conspicuous in an attempt to get closer. As I did so I heard alarm calls from tits and the robin, and above me this wonderful bird flew over.
A Red Kite, and it was very low, and I could look straight into its eyes. It flew around me, and I just kept shooting.
Looking at the streaked belly and chest, and the pale under-tail coverts and vent I think this is a juvenile bird, probably this years, but I can't be certain. It continued to circle around me, gaining height, and then drifting back to check me out again and again.
It swooped very low over me, and at time the lens was too big and I couldn't get it in. This is a particularly evocative shot as if it is eyeing me up, but I am not sure what for. I did get a good look at the feet, and while they have claws, they look very weak in comparison with those of the slightly smaller buzzard.
After this close pass, it started to gain height again, and effortlessly drifted away from we and off towards the farm.
I put the camera down, and watched it drift away in the binoculars. I will never tire of watching these fantastic birds, the colours, the way it moves that gorgeous forked tail. the dropped appearance of the wings from the side, and the fact that it appears in total command of what it is doing, absolutely wonderful.
The kestrel had gone, as had many of the small birds, so I made my way down the hill towards the Plain Farm, and then across to the quarry. Robins sang, and a pair of Mistle Thrush flew over calling. This alerted me to the fact that I had not seen or heard any Redwing today.
I walked past the quarry and up the hill. Looking back again the sun was finding the orange and reds of the hazel and beech leaves, and again contrasting them with the dark trunks of the trees.
I came out into the field, and made my way to the road. Looking back there was more scenery to enjoy. The field left to fallow threw contrasting shadows, and led the eye once agin to the brilliant colours in the remaining leaves on the trees.
At the road looking across towards Winchester Wood again, I just couldn't believe the colours that I could see stretching out in front of me. It seemed like the sunshine and the colder weather had combined to produce a dazzling display today.
While it was cold, the sun still was able to produce some warmth. I checked the wall by the barn for insects in the hope of another late butterfly, but other than a few flys there was nothing there. There was a heat haze though, and I have just captured it in this picture the haze producing the wavy lines beyond the wall.
The pond is sheltered but there was nothing around it. I scanned across the fields, and could see a few Woodpigeon, but it made me realise that there was nothing like the numbers we had seen on Saturday. I estimated for the walk about 500 birds, so maybe they were migrant birds moving through.
I finally made my way back to the car, coming down the road, and looking across Winchester Wood and The Mountains Plantation.
I drove back via Lye Way Fram, but I did not manage to find anything else, still it had been a worthwhile hour's walk.