Sunday, 27 April 2014

26th April - I Drew a Line For You

The forecast for the weekend was quite daunting, but I had decided well before getting up this morning that there could not be any gain without any pain, or soaking, so I set off early morning to see if the overnight rain had left any more prizes.

As I came out of the drive I could hear a Song Thrush singing, but was amazed to see it sitting on the top of a roof, they rarely make their presence so obvious.

The flooded roads and fields had returned after a day yesterday of unrelenting rain.  I decided to walk the roads and to check the hedgerows again.  As I approached the Brislands turn I was amused by the events that had occurred by the new road workings.  The area has had work on the drainage to ensure when the new houses go up the road is not flooded.  As a result a new junction and pavement has been created, with an expanse of what I must assume will be grass.  The builders have put up their signs to direct the traffic, and the truck drivers have followed the directions impeccably!

I wonder how long it will stay like this?

I walked up Brislands, and as on Thursday there were plenty of Blackcaps singing.  I managed to find one male close to the road.

In the fields the rabbits were taking advantage of the break in the weather, of was it the fact that there was water on the lush grass.

Rabbits were everywhere, I turned down Gradwell, and stopped at the horse stables where there were a lot of young rabbits feeding in the open.  I walked to the cross roads, and then up past the school.  A Goldcrest sang from the trees, and I stopped to see both a male and female in the trees.  I would love to find a Goldcrest's nest it must be amazing to see this tiny bird with young.

I walked up the hill to Kitwood, and from the other side of the hedge I could hear Skylarks very close.  I peered over the hedge and found two engaging in what seemed to be some form of conflict, they would fly at each other and then drop to the ground, after a moment they would be up again, but all the time singing.  I assume these were two males as they were singing, but I am not sure.

Leaving the Skylarks a Mistle Thrush flew up from the field into a nearby Oak tree.  In the tree I could see it and another.  In the photograph you can see the chest and belly spots are a lot different to the Song Thrush, the latter having more of an arrow shape.

I headed along Lye Way, the scene of the Cuckoo chase on Thursday, but today it was quiet.  Looking across the fields the emerging leaves on the trees in the distance contrasting with the watery sunshine and grey clouds produced a lovely scene.

I had hoped that today I could get some pictures of Yellowhammers.  There have been a lot during the winter, but just recently they have been conspicuous by there absence.  This morning I could hear them singing, and on popped its head up on the hedge to create a lovely portrait.

Walking through Lye Way Farm Chaffinches sang along with a Chiffchaff and a pair of Blackcaps.  Turning past the cottages a male Bullfinch appeared in the trees in front of me.

At the gate looking across the field I could hear Lapwings calling, and I watched two displaying over the field.  On the ground there was another, so again I assume these were two males looking to win the affection of a female on the ground.

As I watched them I noticed a distant Hare sitting in the field, the hares are becoming a little more visible after hiding away through the winter.

To my left I could hear crows calling, and I looked across and found two of them mobbing a Buzzard as it flew across the field.  

I never understand why a bird the size of a crow mobs these birds of prey, and the Buzzard is rightly annoyed, but while it does react it never fights back as I am sure it could.

Returning to the field, the Lapwings continued their displays in the hope of winning the affection of the lone Lapwing on the ground.

More movement away to my left, and I turned to see a Roe Deer hurtling across the field towards the road.  I noticed a couple walking a dog along the road, and wondered if they were about to get a big surprise.

This time last year I found a Redstart on the hedge, but today there was nothing.  I paused at the copse, and listened to see if there was any migrants, but apart from Linnet and Great Tits there was nothing of any interest. 

I turned off the lane and took the bye way past Lye Way cottage.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from the tree at the turn in the path.  A female, another called from the other side of the field, which I assume was the male.

Coming around the turn I flushed a pair of partridges, last year there had been Grey's here but today they were Red-legged Partridge.

I checked the paddocks where there were Goldfinches, Robins and Chaffinches feeding on the grass but nothing out of the ordinary, so I turned and made my way along Charlwood towards Plain Farm.

Stepping into the field a Hare was walking across the field in the same place we had seen it last week.  A Blackcap sang from the trees by the side of the field, and I could hear both a Green Woodpecker and a Chiffchaff away in the distance.  The first spots of rain made me pause by the fallen tree to see if it would get any heavier, it didn't so I set off slowly down the main path.  The sun came back out and lit up the rape field away in the distance.

There were more Yellowhammers about, calling and singing from the wires overhead.  This one was happy to let me get quite close, but others were a little bit flighty.

Despite hoping and also looking there was nothing else in the broom and gorse bushes.  I could hear Bullfinch but wasn't able to see them.  Walking down the lane towards the barns there were plenty of Linnets about flying in pairs, and Skylarks sang from either side of the lane.  A Whitethroat sang in the same location we had heard it last week, but this time it appeared on the overhead wires.  It didn't though allow a close approach.

A Kestrel flew across the field as I walked past the barn, and looking back I could see another hovering over the open grass.  I headed down the hill and noticed movement by the hedge in the field to my right.  It was a group of four Hares.  They looked young, and were probably this years leveretts.  They played as they made their way through the grass, and seemed to be quite unconcerned about being in the open.

I watched them for a while, then carried on down the hill only to stop when I heard a Lapwing calling in alarm.  Looking back across the field I saw the Lapwing dive bombing a very low flying Buzzard, and my immediate thought was where were the hares?  It seems strangely as if the Lapwing thought this too, as it broke away from the Buzzard and started to dive bomb the hares.  The hares seemed totally oblivious to the possible danger and carried on playing despite the Lapwing calling.

The Buzzard flew off away to the tree, but I waited to see if it would come back.  The hares seemed to change their behaviour, as if they finally had noticed the Buzzard and sunk low into the grass.  As I watched them I saw the Buzzard return, but it was flying without any intent or purpose, and passed over their heads and away into the next field and up into the trees.

Happy there was no further threat I carried on down the hill past the grain dryers.  I was debating to myself which way to walk next and I didn't notice a pair of Grey Partridges by the machinery until they flew off.  I decided to head past the quarry and up to the estate.  Along the edge of the sloping field there were more clumps of Cow Slips, and I was able to get closer to get some detail pictures.

As I walked the path next to the conifers I could hear a Firecrest singing, but I didn't go to find it, happy to leave it in peace today.

One reason for heading this way was the ploughed but unseeded field, maybe something feeding in it.  I scanned it a few times but could only find a single Pied Wagtail.  I walked down through the park, past a very feisty cow, that seemed to be annoyed with me as I walked past it.  You can never be sure with a cow, usually they are quite timid, but this one was up for it, and it is a big animal.  I stood my ground and shouted at it and it backed off.  The other cows were happy to either stay lying down, or just walked away.

I came back up along the road, which always annoys me as it seems a waste of time.  However it is easier to walk down though the field than up it.  There are small groups of trees that could be attractive to birds, but all I found was a single Blue Tit.  I turned off and took the main ride through Plash Wood.  A Buzzard was being harried by a pair of Ravens above me, both the Ravens calling as if to impose on the buzzard.

I was hopeful maybe the Firecrests would be here, the last time I had seen them here was in January, but as I approached I could see since my last visit they have cleared out all the rhododendrons, which was the place they would appear from.  I waited and listened but the only crest I saw or heard was a Goldcrest.

There are Bluebells in Plash Wood, they are not as dense as Old Down, but still quite impressive.

I walked towards Newtown Farm, stopping to check if a Blackcap sing was indeed a Garden Warbler, it wasn't!  Looking across the fields they were full of Rooks and Jackdaws, and every so often they would fly up from the grass and fill the sky around the trees.

I flushed a male pheasant and surprisingly two male Mallards from the field as I walked by, but apart from that it was quiet, no pipits or wagtails as there had been during the winter.

Again I had a decision to make, carry on and walk to Kitwood, or head off to Weathermore Lane.  I decided on the other, and walked past the Maryanne plantation listening to more singing Blackcaps.  The sun was making occasional appearances, and on one of these I saw a white butterfly in the verge.  As I got close I could see it wasn't a white, but a female Orange Tip.  A lovely butterfly too, the under wing patterns of grey and green are really striking.

Another find in the verge was my first Red Campion of the year, yet another sign of how early everything seems this year.

Thinking about early arrivals, I was suddenly awar that I have yet to fid the first House Martin of the year.  I always expect them to turn up about the 23rd, but so far this year there has not been any sign.  It looks like this year my first bird will be in May, and that hasn't been the case before as far as I can remember.

I walked down Hawthorne Lane  Loud calls of Magpie and Blackbirds stopped me to see what they had found.  As I watched I could see the tails of the magpies in the tree, but not what was annoying them.  Finally they both flew out chasing a Crow.  It would seem they had a nest, and the crow was paying too close attention to it.  What goes around comes around.

I took the footpath to Willis walking past another singing Chiffchaff, and then up towards the garden centre on Alton Lane.  In the shady places the Lords and Ladies were in flower, and I was able to capture this splendid specimen.

It started to rain again, this time much heavier, and everything had to be covered up.  I walked on down through the field, and then up to Blackberry Lane.  In the field there was at least 20 Starling in a flock, the majority of which looked like fledglings, again that seemed early.

I walked home at pace as the rain was quite heavy, and there was never much to see on thios last part along Blackberry Lane.  However coming down Reads Field I noticed some strange shapes on the lawn in a garden.  A closer look revealed the shapes to be Common Morrels, a very prized edible mushroom.  They are not that common, and even more rarer in gardens like this.  I wonder if the owners are aware?

Not the success of recent walks but enjoyable once again, and not without incident, there seemed to be a yellow theme today though.

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