After the storms of Sunday evening and Monday morning, today was quite calm, and as the sun began to set, the skies cleared and a beautiful golden sun sent long shadows across the land, lingering there like a long goodbye from a train window.
I was off to the estate to see if the Barn Owl would appear, but as I left the house I noticed the Starlings collecting on the TV aerial chattering away in the sunshine
As I arrived at the parking spot, the sun was slowly moving away from the the trees along side the plantations, and they were being bathed in more beautiful golden light.
As I walked up the path, I noticed movement in the field below, looking at it with the binoculars I could see it was a Buzzard, and it was pecking at the ground, probably in search of earthworms that may be emerging as the dew dampens the ground. It reminded me of the mysterious grey bird I saw last December sitting in the middle of the field, this was definitely a buzzard though.
The sun was dropping quickly, but as I came up the path there were patches of sunlit grass. I noticed some movement ahead, and I slowed down. The movement became two heads that were being craned to see who was approaching. I managed this shot, catching them in the sunshine, just before they exploded off in a flurry of wings and croaks. Naturally they are a little jumpy around the estate at this time of year.
I walked down the path towards the park, I could hear Jackdaws from the surrounding trees, and I disturbed the kestrel again from the large oak tree. It flew around me to a chorus of alarm calls from the robins and tits. The fields were bathed in the golden light, and as I came back to the road I noticed the sun back lighting the autumn leaves on the beech trees that border one of the fields.
I continued to scan the fields, in the hope that something may show, and on one of the tracks I found a small covey of six Red-legged Partridges. They too were enjoying the last rays of the sun.
All around the setting sun was creating some lovely scenes, contrasting the dark of the woods with an orange glow in the sky.
Finally the sun slipped away behind the trees, and the shadows became total. The air changed with the cold suddenly being evident I stood at the edge of the road, looking across the fields, scanning for that elusive ghost. A Roe Deer appeared on the edge of the rough grass, and began to graze, as I photographed it I noticed another shape behind it that turned into a Hare.
Another Hare scampered across the field and away from me, and I took a slow walk along the path. There were a few moths flying around, and in the conifers on my right hand side, Robins sang and the blue and Long-tailed Tits called. A Wren caught my attention as it called and crawled through the bramble beneath an oak tree. Blackbirds would pass over head, flying into the trees to roost, and every so often you would hear the soft "seep" of the Redwing as they flew over, not passing through, but looking also for a safe roosting place.
I walked back towards the road, and picked up a small group of birds in the distance. As they got closer I could see they were duck, a very rare bird in my water less patch. Despite my trying I could not turn them into anything other than mallard, and they flew past me like ducks on a wall in a terraced house.
As it became darker still the Blackbirds and Redwing continued to fly over my head. A strange call turned out to be two Common Gulls flying over the distant woods, late for their watery roost, probably at Alresford.
My quarry did not appear, and by now it was very gloomy, the distant road to Fouir Marks being lit up by the commuting cars
I decided that was going to be the end of the chance, so I turned and walked back to the car. Walking down the hill a Tawny Owl called from across the field, as if to say I am here. The sky was now a combination of blues, greys and a soft orange, and in amongst these colours the planet Venus shone brightly away to the west. It looked and felt like we were probably going to get the first cold night of the autumn, I will probably be scraping ice off the car in the morning.
Rather than drive straight home, I decided to go along the Lye Way, and then through the farm and back to Kitwood. A few Rabbit scurried along the side of the road, but a part from them and the sheep in the fields there was nothing of interest. As I came through the the farm past the pile of rubble on my right hand side I noticed a shape that looked different. I stopped reversed and on the top of the rubble sat a Little Owl. I wound the window down, but it flew off to the top of one of the barns, and sat there watching me, stretching up at times as if to get a better look. It was now dark, but I tried with the camera, and it refused to focus at first, but when it did it was to slow to hold, and this now must become the worst record shot ever!
Still, never mind, I had finally managed to catch up with an owl, not the owl I set off to find, but one that I have been desperate to find. It takes the year list to 83, and also confirms my thoughts from last year that this location was ideal for a Little Owl. I will have to come back again at dusk this winter when hopefully there is a little more light, and I can get some pictures. A good end to the month though, what will November bring?