Friday, 7 March 2014

6th March - But Where It's Going No One Knows

Last evening while running down Alton Lane we saw two sheep with lambs, the first of the year, and early for around here, normally the lambs do not arrive until early April.  There was also signs of flowering celandines, as you could see the closed petals of the flower heads in the verges.

This morning started once again with blue sky and sunshine, but not the frost of previous days.  I had put the moth trap out overnight, but it was completely empty on inspection this morning. The forecast is for warm mild weather at the weekend and into next week so hopefully there may be some about then.

As usual the Starlings were up and active around the garden, this one having a wash and brush up before devouring the last of the buggy nibbles!


The male House Sparrows spend the morning sitting on top of the hedge chirping away in the sunshine.  They just seem to appear from within the hedge and the honey suckle.



Again there were two Robins about and plenty of love, after feeding the female this male positioned himself by the bird bath, and sang away to warn off any nearby suitors.  I do think he is pretty safe though she is extremely quick to take the nibbles



At lunch time I drove up to the pond, the sun had gone which is a shame as I thought there might have been some warmth on the bank to attract some insects.  However it was bright enough for the Lesser Celandines to open up.  There weren't that many but it is a start, pretty soon the bank will be covered.  In some places it is seen as a weed, as it can cover large areas quite quickly.  For me it is a signal that spring is coming.



Along with the celandines there were also the odd mauve flowers belonging to the Periwinkle, another early flowering plant.



I walked around the pond where there were more signs of the onset of warmer weather with Iris shoots coming through and daffodils flowering in clumps.  I was looking to see if there was any spawn, but so far the water was clear.

Above me a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed, but despite searching the trees I could not find it at all.  I left the pond and headed towards Old Down.  At the entrance a Mistle Thrush called and flew across in alarm in front of me, and above the wood a Buzzard circled calling.

After wading through the flooded path, I noticed a bird fly up into the taller branches of the trees.  It was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and this time I could see it.  This one is a female as it does not have the red patch on the back of the neck



It seemed strange to be in the wood with so much light, but after the dull days of winter and the impact of all the work, suddenly it was starting to feel right.  There were trees lying down all around me, but the path had been partially clear, and the floor of the wood was looking green again as the early spring flowers forced their way through.  It seemed even where the heavy machinery had been, and huge tracks had tore into the soil, it wasn't stopping the Bluebells from pushing through.  These plants are beginning to show some amazing resilience.


There is now one tree down that you can easily walk around, but the paths that were in place are still blocked and will no doubt remain so.  What will happen is that new paths will be created, at first by the animals, probably the deer, then by the walkers that use the wood.  This path used to run between the two footpaths and is now blocked by fallen trees and huge pools of water.


I checked the pools here for frogs spawn but they were empty so I returned to the main path.  As I reached the crossroads there was another large puddle, and it was covered in frogs spawn, my first of the year.


The first signs that from all the winters devastation, both human and natural , new life begins to develop and the circle goes on, pools are created and the frogs have taken advantage.  I just hope they don't dry up now!

I walked thee path to the west, and the area of beech trees on my right is much thinned, and it seems that the fallen branches have been tidied up, with piles of broken wood and leaves about.  Again there were the signs of the Bluebells emerging.

A little further on I was thrilled to see the clump of wild Daffodils beneath a large Beech tree.  They were late last year due to the cold March weather we had, but this year they were bang on time, a wonderful sight in the wood, yet another sign that maybe all will be well.


The wild daffs are smaller than those you see in the garden and verges, and with their size they look much more delicate.


A little further on and I found a small clump of Primrose with the flower just about to emerge.  his area has had a massive amount of clearing and felling, yet this little plant has survived and is almost ready to bloom.


At the West End I walked around to the footpath style to scan across the paddocks, as I did so I flushed a brown bird from beneath the hedge.  I wondered if it had settled in the field, and went to check, and in doing so flushed it again.  This time I managed to see what it was, a Red-legged Partridge and it flew across the fields in front of me, finally settling away to the west by the edge of the field.  I had not seen one here before.


I made my way back to the wood, and walked around the perimeter path, having though to take diversions to avoid the heavy tractor ruts and the fallen trees, new paths though are being created here too.

Birds were calling, mainly tits, and this Great Tit was still managing to find hazel nuts from last year's Mast bonanza.


I picked up the footpath again and walked around to the Kitwood path.  Again it is better but you still have to negotiate the pools of muddy water and the ruts.  The smaller trees that had fallen had been cleared, but the large oak tha had come down was still there, fortunately the fork of the branches means that there is ample room to walk underneath it safely.

I decided to cross the field, leaving more calling tits behind in what was left of the Larch trees.  In the field there were good numbers of Crows and Jackdaws.  The Rooks are no occupied with the requirements of nesting, the Crows also seem to be considering it as a pair we by an old nest at the edge of the field.  The Jackdaws though are just starting to pair up, and although they still gather in large flocks as they fly around you can see definite pairs flying together.  These were not happy that I was walking across the field.


I walked around to the pond, I could hear the woodpecker still drumming, and the hedges were full of the calls of Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits.  The sun returned in patches during the afternoon, and towards dusk I saw a Red Kite at the top of Alton Lane, while the Rooks could be found at the rookery by the nursery there too.

Spring is well and truly on the way, and the forecast is for warmer dryer and settled weather from the weekend, very much like two years ago, that will definitely accelerate things, and so it goes....

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