Blue skies, some watery sunshine is there something wrong? The year is now one twelfth gone, and we are only 27 days until the start of the meteorological spring, what is not to celebrate, so Helen and I decided to walk around the lanes, avoiding the mud and pools that have built up in the woods and fields.
As we left just to emphasise the closeness of spring a Song Thrush could be heard singing and this Blackbird in the garden looked rather splendid, a sign that it is beginning to think about the ladies.
We headed off up Brislands Lane, past the mess that is now very obviously a building site. Robins were singing but they were the only birds singing. Calls could be heard but the wall of sound we have been having was not to be heard. A pair of Blue Tits were seen to be gathering lichen, but were probably just searching for small insects and spiders. Lichen are used though as nest lining
We walked down Gradwell which is now a mess from the increased traffic and need for passing spaces. From there we headed past the school, stopping just to watch a pair of Goldcrests in a conifer.
It has to be said it was very quiet, a lone Skylark sang above us, and Woodpigeon would fly over, and there would be the odd call of a Rook or Crow, but that was it. `Thankfully it was still bright, and the sunshine was very welcome.
We headed down Lye Way, and up to the farm, there was absolutely nothing in the fields. I` did manage to find two Buzzards circling a long way off in the distance over Dogford Wood
We checked the buildings and trees at the farm to see if the Little Owl was about. There was absolutely nothing. The only sign of life was a large flock of House Sparrows that were in the hedge.
They were very vocal, calling and chattering away to each other, and then all exploding from the hedge and into a laurel bush.
As we came around the bend, the field could be seen to be covered in Redwing and Fieldfare. We were looking almost into the sun, but it was still possible to make out the larger Fieldfare, as they hold their wing tips low, almost on the ground. The Redwing were also showing their eyes stripes a very diagnostic feature.
The thrushes were sharing their time between the field and the tops of the oak trees on the other side of the lane. Sitting at the top they would wait for their turn to change places and drop down into the field.
We headed off along the main Lye Way, watching the Fieldfare and Redwing feeding in the field. They, other than a pair of Crows were the only birds we saw for quite a way along the lane. It was as if the birds have realised that it is still winter, and starting to look for nest sites and setting up territories is not yet the thing to do. It felt today like winter, and everything was waiting for the real spring.
As we came into the tree lined lane, and the back of the gardens birds appeared, but they were quiet. Chaffinches and Goldfinches fed in the leaf litter at he side of the road, and a Male Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the treetops above us. There was though one bright feature, again a few clumps of Snowdrops brightening up the area under the hedges.
From Lye Way we turned down Charlwood. As if to prove me wrong a Chaffinch put in a short burst of song, then obviously realising it wasn't the thing to do, stopped. A Greta Tit though rang out its teacher call fro the top of a sun lit tree.
Having left the garden and hedges I scanned the fields for Lapwing. There was nothing about but Idid find this male Roe Deer at the back of the field.
It had seen us, and turned to look at its companions, a female a little way back, and probably its yearling from the size. They all turned away from us, and walked off looking for a gap to go through thehedge at the back of the field.
We walked into the fields at Plain Farm, and scanned then as usual, and as usual there was nothing. We carried on the the fallen tree, and I looked across the field towards the east. I don't lwayys appreciate this view, it is as impressive as any around here.
I went to hav a look to see if the bees were still active,and sure enough I could see them flying in and out. There were Chaffinches and Yellowhammers in the trees, but unfortunately no Brambling. A shot rang out from behind us, and a few seconds after the sky was full of Woodpigeons heading away from the source of the shot.
We came down past the cottages, Bullfinches called from the hedge, and as usual a Robin sang. There were lots of House Sparrows and Linnets around one of the game feeders, and close to them you could see holes in the grass where probably voles and mice would come out of saftey to feed on the grain dispersed from the feeder.
The House Sparrows would rest up in the hedge, enjoying what was now left of the sunshine.
Surprisingly there was no Kestrel to be found, and the only bird we saw as we ealked down past the grain store to the road was a again a singing Robin.
A lone Buzzard soared over the Mountains, and I picked up a smaller raptor above them. It was a Sparrowhawk, and below it was another, They were away off and the picture is not the best but it proves that two were there.
They then stated to display above the tops of the trees, but in my defence I haven't seen any Sparrowhawks doing this yet this year.
A search for the Stonechat failed to find it, and other than a pair of Buzzards above the trees we found very little else. We walked back through the Newtown wood for the first time, which was a mistake due to the wet muddy track, and then out onto Kitwood, and then home.
February and March can be holding months, with very little changing, and the natural world waiting for the warmer longer days that herald spring. Maybe it will be early this year, we will just have to wait and see.