Overnight we had more rain, but by mid morning it was dry, if not a little windy. We decided to risk it wrapping up in waterproofs just in case there was a sharp shower. With me though today was my large lens, back from its repairs, I think if it had been raining I would have gone out, I am so pleased to have it back.
As we turned into Lymington Rise we were greeted by yet another sign that the natural world thinks its spring, daffodils in flower, very early in February.
We turned up Brislands, negotiating our way around the fences and bollards that are shielding the open holes that are looking to address the drainage problems here. The development site looks a mess, and there is plenty of machinery littered around the area. The area has been completely cleared, and you have to question why trees and hedges have been cut down, they do not appear to be in the way. In one corner though there was a patch of snowdrops in full bloom, I wonder for how long the contractors will let them flower. My money is on them wiping them out first thing Monday morning, that seems there modus operandi. You can see the wires of the fence through which the photograph is taken.
A Buzzard flew low along the lane, and then attracted the attention of a group of Jackdaws, and flew off into the trees. The Jackdaws called to each other in the beech trees.
Brislands Lane up by the wood is still flooded, and where the trucks have been taking out the timber the road is broken with huge pot holes. The entrance the to the wood though does look a little tidier. We were not intending to go into the wood today, but hopefully I might get the chance in the week and be able to see if there has been any development.
We carried on down the lane, scattering Chaffinches from the leaf litter. I remarked that it was strange the House Sparrows didn't seem to be around the cattle barns, and then immediately saw a group dropping from the hedge to the road to drink from the puddle. They were back, but not in the same numbers as last year, but there is time for the numbers to build up. House Sparrows seem to be a success story around the village, with a large flock in my garden, the huge roost at the top of Reads Field, and good numbers around Plain Farm, not necessarily reflective of the whole of the UK.
As we passed the barns suddenly alarm calls rang out, and Helen pointed immediately to a dark grey bird flying just above the road. The calls, the jizz, unmistakeably a Sparrowhawk, probably from the size a male.
It flew low, then up and over the hedge effortlessly, it never ceases to amaze me how agile a flyer they are twisting and turning, and picking the smallest of gaps with which to fly through. You can see the small wing span, but yet broad powerful wings that generate such bursts of speed.
The Sparrowhawk climbed into the air and headed away from us. It was probably attracted by the flock of House Sparrows, and being unsuccessful with its shock and awe approach it was off to look for something else to surprise.
We turned up Court Lane, and walked into the low sunshine. The hedge shielded the wind and it felt quite warm as we walked along. In the field to our left a Carrion Crow fed close to the road, and for once the hedge gave me cover to get a photograph of a bird that usually flies away the minute I lift the camera.
I noticed a small vineyard close to the area where there are usually Bullfinches. I am sure they wil not be welcome in the spring, and I couldn't find them today. We turned into Gilbert Street, and headed up towards Swelling Hill. I had been hoping there would be some gulls about, and there were, but only two adult Common Gulls. They were paddling for worms in the field amongst the sheep.
The only consistent bird song today had been that of the Robin, and as we walked along the road there were at least two singing. A Blue Tit was also calling, and came to the top of the hedge to show itself, and announce it was there with some loud calls. They are a lovely bird.
In the paddocks by the footpath there were plenty of Rook, and again the hedge provided me with a lot of cover htat allowed me to get some good behaviour shots. You can see how they dig their bills into the soft ground, then opening it to detect the worms and insects. Two years ago the fields were very dry, and the Rooks were travelling great distances to find suitable feeding grounds. This year the conditions appear perfect for them, it could be a good year for them if the nests do not get blown from the tree tops.
Walking up the hill, the banks of the lane were covered in Snowdrops, and they were putting on a lovely display.
Coming up the hill there were signs that the storms had hit the area again, with broken branches and large sprays of Ivy everywhere. As we walked towards the pond looking across the field you could see a larger pond of water that had collected in a shallow area by the trees. It was almost as big as Swelling Hill Pond itself.
There was little else to attract the the lens as we walked down to the Kitwood turn, and then along Kitwood. A Mistle Thrush flew across in front of us, then out across the paddock. I managed to catch it in flight, and you can see the large wings they have in comparison to the Blackbird of Song Thrush.
Coming down Kitwood towards Hawthorn Road the snowdrops are now in full bloom, despite the attempts of several vehicles to flatten them.
We walked up Willis Lane, always a reliable location to find early Lords and Ladies flowers, and they didn't let us down today.
The leaves are just emerging, it will be a while before the flowers are seen. Last year the leaves appeared early, but the cold snap held the flowers back, we shall have to see how early the flowers can be this year.
Surprisingly there were no Rooks at the rookery at the garden centre, maybe the wind put them off. I could see some away across the field, but the trees were quiet.
We walked the footpath towards home, thee only other thing of note being the buds on a Magnolia tree, early again, and another reminder that despite the wet and windy weather, it has been unseasonably mild, and that spring may be very early this year.