Thursday, 26 December 2013

26th December - The Sound Of The Trains In The Distance

Another storm went through last night, not with the intensity of Monday, but more rain has made the ground very wet.  The morning dawned quite foggy, but you could see the sun and parts of blue sky through it.  I managed to get out by the middle of the morning, by which the mist had lifted, and the garden was bathed in winter sunshine.  A cock House Sparrow sat in the branches of the tree in the garden enjoying the weak sunshine.

As I walked down Lymington Rise bird were singing around me, I could hear Great Tits, Greenfinches and Robins in full song, the sun having woken them up and reminded them that we are now into the season where the days get longer.  Woodpigeons sat high in the trees taking advantage of the sunshine.

The overnight rain was still evident in the the trees and on the hedges, they shone like jewels or maybe Christmas lights as the low sun picked out the water drops

Along Brislands there were Blackbirds and Song Thrushes feeding amongst the damp leaves and mud on the side of the road,  This Song Thrush was so involved in feeding it allowed me to get quite close.

It was still clear as I passed the playing field, but once I came past the houses it as clear (or not) that there was mist still down the hill towards Ropley, once again Four Marks had cleared before the area around us.  The trees were still surrounded in mist and I could not see Old Down Wood.

I needed to decide what to do, was it going to be fogy all the ay down Brislands, was it too muddy in the wood to get through the paths?  I decided to walk on down Brislands and avoid the wood.  As I walked past the entrance I could see a Robin feeding in the mud by the path.  In the mist the shape and movement was unmistakeable.

There were birds calling above me, and I could see them moving from branch to branch.  I could make out a Jay, and I could hear Chaffinch but it was very murky, and looking up into the tree tops, the mist produced a strange image.

I walked on down the hill, hearing only a Wren calling from around the barns.  Looking across the fields it was still very misty.  In the distance I could hear the trains on the Watercress Line, the mist bring their sounds closer.

Turning up the lane towards Ropley I could hear crows, and found this pair sitting at the top of a tree that was just emerging from the mist

Once again the low sun was picking out the water drops on the branches of the hedges, with the added mist it looked very dramatic.

A little further on  heard the familiar piping call of a Bullfinch, I called back and very soon I could see three birds in the hedge.  In the end there were five birds and I saw two reddish pink males, but it was this female that showed the best as it crawled to the top of the hedge to see who the stranger was calling.

By now the mist was almost lifted and I could see across the fields.  I stopped to look at a small group of Common Gulls, as I stood watching I heard the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and turned to find this female at the top of a pole.  I watched it pull something out, so the effort was worthwhile.

Here are the Common Gulls that were feeding in the field.

One of the reasons for walking this way was to see how the Beech trees had faired in the cut along Swelling Hill.  As I started the climb there were Nuthatches calling in the trees and both Blue and Great Tits would flit around calling every so often.  Some of the smaller trees close to the edge of the cut had fallen, and there had been a major clear up of what was more than likely a mess just before Christmas.

The other worry here is the overhead power lines, but it would seem these had been spared this time.

I made my way to the pond, it was very full, and walking around the path was very wet and muddy.  In one tree there was a series of spider webs highlighted by water droplets.

I checked all the edges of the pond for snipe, but as usual found nothing.  But just as I was making my way to the road I saw a bird soaring over the distant trees.  As it came closer it was clear it was a raptor, and a little closer it revealed itself to be a Sparrowhawk.  It circled above and allowed me the chance to get some photographs in the lovely light.

I left the pond and walked along the road.  The horse paddock on the righ had some flooded patches, and around the edge of one a Pied Wagtail pecked at possible food by the water's edge.

Robins sang in the sunshine, and Blue Tits and Nuthatches called from the branches over hanging the road.  I decided again not to go through the wood, and walked towards the school.  Looking across the field there were still signs that the fog was lingering away to the north despite the sunshine here in Four Marks.

I turned up Gradwell, and flushed several Robins, and this Dunnock that decided to sit in the ivy, and for once posed nicely and I managed to get a good picture of avery over looked bird.

I looked across the field with the sheep and noticed something sitting on a post.  It was a Buzzard sitting in the sun.

AS I watched it flew off and headed across the field.

It passed me, and went across the road and then up into the hedge on the other side looking out into the fallow field towards Ol d Down Wood.

I took the footpath towards Lymington Bottom, I could hear Bullfinches again and several Redwing.  This one sat in the tree for me.

I made my way home in the sunshine, but couldn't help wondering how long it would last.  There are more storms coming, I just hope they are not as severe as those just before Christmas.


  1. Thankyou very much for your blogs over the last year. Both my old Dad and I are very impressed with your great knowledge of nature and also your photographic skills. Once again many thanks.

    1. John, thank you very much for your kind words, I am glad you enjoy it as much a I enjoy writing it!


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