Monday, 10 March 2014

9th March - Sunshine She’s Here, You Can Take a Break

Saturday we spent on the south coast at Hayling Island staying over and popping in to Farlington Sunday morning.  The weather has taken an incredible change, since Friday afternoon it has been sunshine all the way, and it has changed the mood as well.  

When we got back Sunday lunchtime I took the chance to have a short walk before the rugby.  As I headed off the Starlings were singing from the roof gutters, it looks like they have made their way in again to nest.  Along Lymington Bottom the blossom has just exploded out, and as usual the Honey Bees were in attendance.


This is the third year for this shot now, although last year was a lot later, I can't resistit with the blue sky and white petals.

As I turned up Brislands a Brimstone flew past me, to quick to photograph it just kept going, quickly after it another went through, and then by the turn with Gradwell I chased a Small Tortoiseshell with again no luck.  There were four Brimstones fly past me as I walked along.  In the hedge and trees were Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits, and again I could hear a calling Bullfinch but could locate it.

Beyond Gradwell there are signs that the road is closed, this is due to the pavement being broken up, and huge potholes have formed, but it didn't seem to deter the dog walkers who just drove through in their 4 x 4 doing even more damage to the road surface.

The verge on either side of the lane was covered in clumps of Lesser Cellandine, their petal heads all turned towards the sun.



Another butterfly flew past me, this time a Peacock, making three species for the day, they all seem so energetic this time of the year, and once again it was gone and out of view, not allowing me to photograph it all.

At the entrance to the wood a strange call could only mean one thing, a Great Tit, and I found it in a tree by the gate.



Great Tits have a huge range of vocals, but all are delivered with a distinctive accent, so when you hear the strange call, the sound and dialect is diagnostic despite the fact you may not have heard the tune or sound before.

The wood piles at the entrance to the wood are getting smaller and looking down the path there are signs of life emerging through the muddy tracks, it looks greener as well.



I walked around the outside of the wood on the south side, and I managed to find what I was looking for, a sunning Peacock Butterfly, although it was very flighty and I only managed to get this picture.



Contrary to thought the butterfly is not warming its wings, but uses them to direct warmth to the body, and to trap the warmth from the ground to its body.

I headed back into the wood, there was plenty of bird song, and with the trees now thinned out, there was plenty of light, and it felt quite good.  You can see the green shoots coming through, and the fallen trees seem to be providing an attraction to the birds.  Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks can be seen skulking around the fallen branches, and I also watched Long-tailed Tits picking off the lichen from the branches.  This Goldcrest was one of a pair working their way around the branches pecking at small insects.



There are fewer Larches now, but those that remain are still yet to start getting their leaves.  With the sky now more visible from the ground the trees look very spectacular against the blue sky today.



I walked out of the wood, and down to the pond, the sun by now was off the bank so I walked to the far end.  In the little pool by the back end of the pond was a small patch of frogs spawn, but no sign of any frogs.  This was the first time I had seen spawn here.


There would be the occasional plop sound and I managed to find two Toads swimming close to the bank of the pond.  I had wondered if they may have started breeding yet, but they do not appear to have returned in the numbers required yet.  Two years ago they were here on the 11th March, last year it wasn't until April that they started breeding.  Maybe in the next few days.

I found this one just sitting oin the bottom in some shallow water.



As I approached the jetty I could hear calls, and looking over into the Iris corner I could see quite a few heads out of the water.



I counted 57 Common Frogs here, sitting together amongst a huge bed of frogs spawn.  I have seen the spawn here before, but have not managed to catch the frogs in the act before.



This one looked quite dapper, I wonder why he was on his own.



I left the frogs to their singing and flirting and headed towards Kitwood.  The horse paddock was looking much drier, and had this smart male Pied Wagtail in it.



There have been a few sightings of White Wagtail and Wheatear along the south coast, but it is still very early for migrants in Four Marks.

At Kitwood I took the footpath across the field and back into Old Down Wood.



The path towards the Gradwell entrance has always been the darkest part of the wood, but now it is bather in sunlight, I will look forward to seeing what this does for the plant life.

Coming out of the wood a pair of Buzzards soared over the fields in the distance.



I turned along Gradwell, and a Brimstone flew towards me.  This one though was interested in the plants and leaves, and finally settled on a bramble leaf.  Instead of opening its wings like the Peacock to attract the sun it holds the wings closed and lays to one side.



Looking extremely pristine this had probably emerged today.

A apir of Magpies were calling and also being mobbed by a pair of Blue Tits, and as I stopped to watch I noticed this Jay in the field.  It was probably searching for its cache of acorns, and as a result was not aware of me, and I was allowed to get some nice pictures.



A little further down the lane on the other side a group of Rabbits were enjoying the sunshine, this one having a good wash and brush up.



The development site is now completely cleared, and fences are going up at the back between the trees and the houses of Lapwing Way.  There are mounds of soil, and on one of them I noticed a shape that didn't look right.  On closer inspection I saw that it was in fact a Buzzard sitting there.  It seemed quite content to sit there watching the field in the sunshine.



After the storms and wild and wet weather we have had over the winter it was as if everywhere had woken up, and was enjoying the warm sunshine.  Everybody and everything seemed to be very Happy!

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