Sunday, 1 December 2013

1st December - All The Leaves Are Gone, And The Sky is Grey

If you recognise the song the words above come from then you will know that it was lamenting the fact that in California it was sunny with blue sky.  It is always sunny in California, and quoting another song it also never rains in the south.  Today it is the start of Winter, our final season of the year, and It is the fact that we have seasons that makes me love this country.  Yes it maybe depressing at times but we get variation, something different, a change, and a change that creates patterns and different life.

It was grey and cloudy this morning, and I set off to walk the parts I didn't get to yesterday.  The leaves to be truthful are not all gone, but over the last week they have been falling in greater amounts, as if the trees were hurrying up to be gone in time for winter.

While having breakfast this morning there was a lot more bird activity in the garden, Tits and House Sparrows were using the feeders, a group of Long-tailed Tits came through, and Starlings were bathing and feeding on the fat balls, we even watched a Wren go into a nest box.  Of interest though was the way a Robin was behaving.  Clearly the garden is it's territory, but not just from Robins.  It would chase the sparrows off the feeders, and even launched itself at the Starlings on the fat balls, scaring them away.  I do not recall every having seen a Robin behave like this.  I have seen them chase Robin rivals away but never larger birds.  I shall have to keep an eye on this.

At the bottom of Lymington Rise there was a lot of calls coming from the oak tree.  First it was a group of Long-tailed Tits, probably the ones that had come through the garden.



As well as the Long-tailed there were Goldcrests, and one was very close to me as it flitted about along the branches and under the leaves of the Sycamore.  It would hover like a Hummingbird, flapping its wings so they became a blur.



Firecrest yesterday, Goldcrest today, some lovely pictures.

I headed up Brislands, there were many Blackbirds in the hedges and trees feeding on the berries but no Redwing.  I could also hear Bullfinches, but as usual they would hide, until I managed to pin this male down on a feeder out side a house just beyond the Gradwell turn.



I intended to walk Brislands to the bottom.  The road has been cleared of the soil and grass that had lined the middle, probably as a result of the forestry work.  As I walked through the tree lined part I could hear more Tits and Goldcrests, and as I came to an area of Old Man's Beard a Wren called out.  Being one of our smallest birds they are constantly foraging for food.  Keeping under cover they skulk through the dead branches and vegetation looking for small insects which are using the cover for the same thing.  I waited and eventually I caught sight of this very small, but delightful bird.



I heard Red-legged Partridges calling, but never saw them, at the bottom of the lane I turned an headed up towards the wood.  A small flock of Common Gulls flew over, and I could also see some Rooks feeding.

As I headed towards Old Down, the small flock of Common Gulls began to increase.  At first there was about 20 in the field.



But then I realised that they were all over the place, and I ended up with a count of 98, easily the highest I have seen.

A flock of six Skylark flew past me heading west.  I am never sure if these are residents flocking together or that they are moving through.  Looking towards Old Down, the light around the west end entrance was brighter as a result of the forestry work.



I looked out over the field again, and flushed another flock of 15 Skylarks, and as I watched them I noticed the scene in the distance of clouds and bonfire smoke.  As I took this photograph the Skylarks came back, and you can just make them out in the sky.



I reached the paddocks and scanned around.  As well as the Common Gulls there were also Crows and Rooks with a few Jackdaws too amongst the sheep.  As I turned to head back to the wood a Jay called from the trees.  It is a harsh call for a beautiful bird, not dissimilar to that of a parrot, another beautiful bird with an awful call.  They have been hard to photograph, this was the best, again can you find it?



The wood was quiet, and open, it is a little unnerving as it used to be quite dark.  Fortunately the mature trees have been left, and this magnificent Beech now stands out in the open.



I made my way to the thatched cottage entrance, pausing every so often to take in the destruction, and to listen.  I could hear birds, but they were difficult to find.

Out of the wood I headed to the pond.  With the stillness and quiet it was  quite strange as I walked around it.  I disturbed a Robin, and there were more Goldcrests calling.  A Bullfinch called and sat in an Ash Tree mocking me, as it must have known the light was poor.



The pond and surrounding trees do look quite spectacular.



For once there were no thrushes at Thrush Corner, but there were two Magpies and a Jay.  I found the thrushes further along the footpath.  I could hear the Redwing, and counted about 30, but I could only find one Fieldfare again, once again at the top of a tree.



The Redwings were feeding on the Hawthorn berries, and the tree was also proving an attraction for others.



I crossed the road to head up towards the garden centre, and as I did a huge flock of Woodpigeon came over.  I didn't think too much of it until I saw a falcon coming very fast low over the house and then up and into the flock.  Chaos ensued, pigeons went everywhere and I couldn't see what happened, but I know what had caused the chaos, a Peregrine Falcon.  It is almost becoming a regular sighting now.  It would appear that I am not the only one to have noticed that we have thousands of Woodpigeon around the patch.

I walked up the hill, as I went I sang the Fleetwood Mac song to the Shetlands, they didn't seem impressed.  In the field by the garden centre I counted 76 Rook, which is a good number in one place.  They were all feeding in the grass, and didn't seem bothered as I got closer.



I walked down the path towards Blackberry scattering more Redwing from the Holly.  There is a house on the corner that we always thought had a garden like the one in Bill and Ben.  The house was sold recently, and now they are knocking it down, and stripping out the garden.

Over the last two years I have been writing this blog, I have begun to notice the changes nature makes, and have been able to relate to events at the times of the year.  I have also seen changes in the village, the building work that is changing the face and size, which sometimes just doesn't feel right.  Today when I saw that garden destroyed I felt really sad, maybe it was because I related it to my childhood, or maybe it was because I felt the previous owner totally loved that garden like someone else I knew, either way it was a real shame

Winter is with us, and we now have a time until the life starts to regenerate, for now though it is a tough time for all the wildlife, lets hope this year it is kind to them, but I wouldn't be without the seasons.

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