The mornings are getting lighter now, and with the light comes the bird song. This morning as I lay there contemplating having to get up and face the day I could make out at least three singing Song Thrushes, and even a Blackbird intermittently between them.
The bird feeders were also busy this morning, a dry start after more overnight rain. There were at least six Goldfinches on the seed, and the Starlings were defying their size by managing to hang from the ball feeder to get to the buggy nibbles. This miracle food has proved very popular this winter with all the visitors unable to resist it. As I watched a Blackbird and Robin pick up the fallen pieces I noticed a small, slight bird in the tree, the chestnut cap sealed the identification of the year's first Blackcap, a female, and she went straight to the buggy nibbles.
It was grey when i got up, and despite a small gap in the clouds mid morning it remained grey up to midday. I had hoped for some sunshine, and I did manage to set off in some as I walked towards Brislands. The roadworks are making an awful mess of the lane, and I squeezed past the diggers and headed towards Old Down. A couple of weeks ago I photographed a clump of Snowdrops on the development site. At the time I commented on how long they may be there. On Sunday when we walked past I was pleased to see that they were still there, flowering nicely. Unfortunately today I was greeted with this:
All gone, they haven't had time to die and fall back, they have been cleared away, why?
Goldfinches were calling in the trees and I even managed to hear my first singing Greenfinch of the year. The Goldfinch has this sort of chest marking that makes it look like it has a well developed pair of pecs.
Snowdrops are notthe only flower about at the moment. I have seen daisies and dandelions out when the sun shines, and was also able to find this White Flowering Dead Nettle along the side of the road.
I walked along Brislands and into the open fields. Skylarks sang on either side of me despite the heavy overcast grey skies that had now returned.
One success story has been the fact that the land owner of the field to the north has finally cleared the footpath entrance heading down across the field towards the A31. I would imagine the field is a bit of a trek at the moment with the mud, but its a start. The sign now needs to be cleared of ivy so you can see it is a footpath
I stood at the entrance to the wood an looked down the path. There is still quite a bit of clearing up to do here, the mud is quite deep and deceptive. As I stood looking several Great Tits called from the bushes to my left, they are very active at the moment and can be heard everywhere.
I made my way carefully along the path. It was muddy but at least it was clear. The track that goes around the north side, and is one of the best places to see Bluebells is blocked by a fallen tree, and deep tyre tracks that have filled with water. I know this is not an official footpath, but it is a popular track that did no harm, and I hope that access is returned, I don't think there is any argument to say walked cause damage.
The footpath that branches off towards the west is still blocked, and I would imagine it is the case all the way along it.
As I reached the crossroads there was quite a bit of bird activity. Chaffinches were flying up from the leaves and puddles and with them were the Great Tits and Blue Tits, and also a pair of Marsh Tits. They would fly down to the puddles drink and then return to the trees for cover.
Nuthatch calls were ringing out, and at one time there were three flying around my head. Looking up all I could make out was the unmistakable silhouette of this quite feisty little bird
Punctuating the calls of the song birds were the mews of Buzzards high above. At one time they came low over the tree tops, but soon returned up high to circle together. The Buzzard love fest continues in the grey skies.
I headed towards Old Down Cottage, and quickly found that the path still remains blocked there. You can get past as a way has been made, but it still takes you off the original path.
These pictures give you some idea of what has happened. Large trees that did not have fully developed root systems have gone down in the wind, and older trees have just been snapped
The winds have come from the south west, and if you turn around and look that way you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand why!
You can see form here all the way down towards Winchester and Gander Down. The protection has been removed and the big trees have just toppled like cards.
Despite all this destruction there are signs that the plants are majking their way up. The little shoots I saw a few weeks ago have turned into substantial clumps of green. The bluebells are coming lest hope we can get to the wood to enjoy them.
I am happy to say there has been some work to clear the fallen trees, in this case you can see the cut logs by the side of the path, but the huge trunk still remains blocking the way. There is a lot still to do and I hope the contractors honour their commitments.
With the mild weather I had expected the Rooks to start nesting, but when I checked back two years ago when we had a very mild winter and early spring I found that they hadn't started nesting until early March, so the fact that they haven't started yet is not a big issue, they still have time. There was a large group of Rooks feeding in the fallow field, and as usual as I tried to get close they were off.
I came out of the wood and headed towards Gradwell. As well as the crows and rooks about there was a large flock of Magpies. They seem to like collecting in this area for some reason, I am not sure why, maybe it is due to the horses and feed that must be about.
In all I counted nine with this group of six sitting on top of the hedge cackling at each other.
I walked back over the field to Lymington Bottom. It was now quite grey and threatening rain once again.