Slowly through the week the weather has changed as the spring equinox drew closer, once past the warm weather left us and we are no back to showers and a cool wind. I was knocked sideways by a bug of virus this week, and have not had the energy to get out. straggling winter birds continue to turn up in the garden though, last week it was a Redpoll, this Friday there were a pair of Siskins on the sunflower seed feeder. This time though I did have the camera handy.
The forecast for the day was indifferent, but it started with sunshine and I ventured out for the morning. I walked down Lymington Bottom, then up Brislands. The road now seems to be open, and the drainage work looks complete. There was also signs of new planting around some of the open areas in the hedge, but the protection around looked very flimsy, and I can't see them lasting too long if the deer take an interest.
A female Blackbird, was working the edge of the road turning over the leaves and rooting out the worms that were hiding under them. I thought she might carry them off, but she ate them indicating there are no young yet.
The change in the weather had affected teh bird song, there didn't seem so much about, and as I walked along Brislands towards the wood I couldn't hear any Skylarks. In the tree just before the entrance to the wood a Yellowhammer was singing though, the familiar "little bit of cheese" being the only song around.
Scanning the field to the north I did manage to see two Skylarks just above the ground, they dropped to the ground though, and I didn't see them fly back up.
Walking into the wood there are only a few trunks left to be cleared out, and it was clear their had been a tidy up. The tracks appeared to have been smoothed out, and a lot of the broken branches flattened out, on the whole it looked a much more inviting environment.
At the crossroads this could be seen looking back towards Gradwell.
Another good sign was the presence of these tree guards which mean that soon there is going to be planting in the open spaces that have been created.
It would appear that all the promises about clearing the wood up, and re-planting will be kept, I wonder though if this would have happened had there not been a fuss made about the condition of the wood.
I could see a flock of seagulls away towards the paddocks, and I walked across the wood to get a better look. As always the gulls seemed to disappear, but the view was as always quite stunning.
I left the view, and made my way out of the wood. There had only been one Chiffchaff singing, in the same spot as I had heard it earlier in the month, all the other birds singing were the residents, Great and Blue Tits, Nuthatch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Blackbirds.
Leaving the wood I walked towards the pond. The Chiffchaff was singing here too, but only the one. The drake Mallard was on the pond, but no sign of the duck, so I assume she must have found somewhere to nest and is brooding eggs, we shall have to wait and see.
There was no sign of the toads, and no sign of toad spawn in the water. I can't believe they have finished breeding, and I would expect there will be another rush later on. For now the frogspawn has melted out and the area where the frogs had been is now black with little tadpoles.
I left the pond, and walked towards Kitwood. Nuthatches seem to be calling everywhere, and I managed to find this one in the branches above the road.
In the road side there was a little clump of white violets. These are I think Dog-violets where the colours can vary in the petals
I took the footpath from Kitwood and headed towards the Hawthorn Road. Looking away intot the distance you could see the rookery along Alton Lane by the nursery. The number of nest has increased significantly.
A Chiffchaff called from the hedge, and there was also the seep calls of Redwings passing overhead. I crossed the road and headed up the footpath past the Shetland pony paddocks. The only birds about were a few Robins and a Blue Tit. As I reached the footpath I could hear another Chiffchaff calling.
From there I walked towards the garden centre and then down through the field. Walking up the path yet another Chiffchaff sang alongside the path. I stopped to find it and it immediately flew towards me and ended up in the tree right above me.
It called and then stopped to look down on me. The best shot so far this year.
March in Four Marks is a strange month, it promises so much with warm sunshine, butterflies and Chiffchaffs but then that is it. The expectation is there, and you want to get out to find new arrivals, but they never come. The weather looks like it will continue cold this week, so I can't see anything turning up, we will need prolonged southerly winds and a good fall on the south coast, that will allow them to gradually make their way north, hopefully stopping off here on the way.
Out on to Blackberry, I made my way home and an afternoon of sport.