For those of you who are interested I have started to post the events from our adventure in Indiahere.
Just when you thought Spring was here, the weather turned once again. Yesterday saw a lot of showers, and overnight the temperature dropped to near freezing, and when I set off this morning there was definitely a bite in the air. I walked along Brislands, and was surprised to see three Black-headed Gulls fly over. They are usually seen at the beginning of April, but not at this time of the year, another sign of the strange weather and late season.
I decided to walk around the playing field, as the bushes and hedgerow can sometimes attract migrants. As I entered the BMX area a Blackcap was singing, and in the clearing a wren rattled out its song. As well as the wren three Dunnocks were chasing each other around the scrub, clearly there was love on their minds. Dunnocks though are promiscuous birds, so you can never be quite sure what is going on.
Walking back out a lovely Mistle Thrush was feeding on the football pitch. The spots on the breast are very dark, and completely in contrast to the lighter brown of the Song Thrush.
As I turned back onto Brislands, I got the chance to compare the two thrushes as a Song Thrush flew up into the bush alongside the road.
As you can see they are completely different, the Song Thrush having brown gentle spots, and the overall plumage is browner than the grey of the Mistle. I walked along Brislands towards Old Down, but once again decided to walk out into the middle of the opposite field. Several Skylarks were singing overhead, and a Buzzard was disturbed form the area that has become a tip.
I walked back and into Old Down.
Despite the time of year the wood was very quiet, probably due to the temperature, and strong wind. I walked to the crossroads, and then around towards the east. I heard a Chiffchaff singing but couldn’t find it. I checked the owl tree, but it wasn’t there, I searched around the area, but there was no sign. I made my way to the main path, then took the track towards the west end. Where there was more light getting through to the floor of the wood the bluebells were beginning to come into flower. It wasn’t many, but it was a start. I estimate they will be at their best by the middle of May.
As I came around by the ash trees, and Great Tit was moving through the grass and bramble alongside the path. It allowed me to get quite close. They are quite striking birds, and we do not appreciate how lovely they look. If this was a rarity, everyone would be drooling over what a stunning bird ot is., well it is a stunning bird, enjoy it!
I came out of the woods and walked down through the paddocks. All was quiet, even the lambs were keeping quiet. As always I check the posts and fences, and noticed something on the fence. A closer look revealed that they were Swallows, and they looked very cold indeed
I walked to the road, then up Andrews Lane. I scanned across the fields, but there was nothing, and at the Larches nothing moved other than Wood Pigeons. Blue Tits called from the trees, but that was about all. I came out at the top of the lane and walked alongside the field. This time last year the rape was in bloom, today it looks like a cereal crop has been planted, but they have hardly grown.
The area at the top of the lane faces south, and I could hear at least one Chiffchaff calling. I decided to stand and just watch, and I quickly located a male and female Blackcap, a little after the Blackcap burst into song. As I watched the Blackcaps at least 4 warbler type birds flew up into the Horse Chestnut tree. I waited and was able to get some good views of a Chiffchaff.
Then I found a Willow Warbler, but it was not so confiding, however you can see the pale legs, and longer wings in this photo.
I hung around the area for a while, and the warblers would call, and fly catch when the sun came out. Every so often they would be a small snatch of song. From here I took the road to Lyeway, and as I came to the “T” junction I thought I heard a Whitethroat sing. There is a gate that leads to a footpath that crosses the field, but the song I heard was coming from the hedge. I went through the gate, and walked slowly along the side strip. A Whitethroat definitely sang again, and I searched the hedge. A bird flew out, but it was not the bird I was expecting. It had a bright red tail, and grey black, and flew up into the hedge, and flicked the red tail. A spanking male Redstart, I couldn’t believe it, so now I had to get some pictures. It was very flighty and kept its distance from me. Every so often it would drop to the ground to catch something, and then would fly off away from me. I would creep up taking photos as I went.
It never came close for a really good shot, but there is no doubting the bird. One I had hoped I would find on the patch, but to get a male in spring is really special.
The Whitethroat kept singing, and I saw it briefly again as I walked back to the road, but I couldn’t get a clear view. I decided to leave it and set off back down the road. As I approached a small copse I heard a very feint bird call, at first I thought it was my phone, but finally I located the owner, another Whitethroat, and this bird was much more confiding.
In the same copse, there were at least six Goldfinches, a pair of Great Tits, and four Blackbirds. The walk took me around the fields towards Charlwood. As I walked close to the field I flushed a pair of Grey Partridges, the first time I have seen them away from Plain Farm, which is a good sign. Chaffinches and Yellowhammers sang from the trees as I walked along Charlwood, but that was about it
I crossed into the Palin Farm area, and stopped to have a coffee, although I got the mix wrong and it didn’t taste that good. After the break I headed off down the path, and Linnets were singing from the hedge and wires. In the fileds there was quite a bit of a commotion being caused by Rooks and Crows. As I watched a large black bird flew across the path carrying something. It laned in the field, and I could see that it was a Raven, but I couldn’t see what it had caught. As I picked up the camera, it flew off, and was mobbed as it flew away by a crow.
As well as the corvids, there was a pair of Lapwing flying around the fields, going back and forth across the lane and a Skylark flew up from the field launching immediately into song as it rose ever upwards.
I came by the tree in the field, and of course there was nothing there at all, but as I came past the tree by the workshops I noticed something amongst the branches, It was a Kestrel, and for once it stayed still
I decided to spend some time in the quarry, birds were singing, there was a Chaffinch, and several Goldfinches, and a Chiffchaff at the top of the trees, and a pair of Song Thrushes chased each other through the bushes. I had decided to check out the area around Colemore. I had been given a tip that there was a good opportunity to see Little Owl. It is moving a little further away from the patch, but I considered that if I walked from home to get there then it counted. As I set off down the road towards the A32 I noticed a buzzard over the trees, but something made me look closer, and it turned out not to be a buzzard but another Raven.
To get to Colemore you cross the A32, and walk along Shell Lane, this goes under an old railway line, and then along a road that was lined thickly with Wild Garlic or Ransomes. They were beginning to flower, and the scent of garlic was everywhere. The detour did not prove to be successful, but it is a very pretty little village, and I did manage to capture an ahhh moment with this little fella
If I had looked at the map I could have followed the footpaths to East Tisted. As it was I retraced my steps, sheltered in the railway tunnel from the rain, and then walked along the A32 and up the road to the Rotherfield Estate.
A Buzzard flew over the path as I walked towards Plash Wood, and as I walked through the wood, I disturbed two Roe Deer who ran off at some speed. I then made my way to Newtown Farm, and around the path towards the plantation. In the hedge near the houses a pair of Bullfinch called, however it was only the female that showed long enough to get a picture
In the field alongside the path as I walked down towards the road I heard the familiar twittering of Swallows, but with them were my first House Martins of the year. There was about a dozen House Martins but I only managed to get one!
I went to look at the fence post which over the past few years has been a nest for Great Tits, there was nothing in it, but the location was a little higher than the path, and looking back over the field I saw a Hare that I could not have seen from the path. It was having a wash, and then rolled over on the ground obviously rubbing itself in some scent. It rolled back and forth.
Then it got up, and just sat and almost looked at me.
I carried on across the road, and along the bridleway. The sun was warm here, as it was sheltered from the wind, but despite this there was no sign of any insects. As I walked up towards Kitwood another Chiffchaff sang out. Cock Pheasants and there mates were in the fields alongside Kitwood, but that was about all. I took the footpath across the field into Old Down, but away to the north west the sky looked very threatening again, I was not sure I was going to get home dry.
Back in Old Down I checked from a distance to see if the owl was back, and he was, I could see an eye watching me. I wonder where he had been, and how did he get back to the tree without attracting any mobsters?
It was now very dark and suddenly it started to rain, which quickly turned to hail. Another sign of our wierd weather was the sight of the hail stones laying on the ground, normally they melt quite quickly, but the temperature today was so low they stayed for quite a while
The rain did not last for long, and I made my way back in the sunshine. A long walk, but a good one, several year ticks and a new top bird in a male Redstart, can’t be bad.