After the warm weather of Friday, we had a really heavy thunderstorm overnight, but while the sun greeted us when we got up, the clouds rolled back in mid morning, and there were a few sharp and heavy storms early in the afternoon. Those storms appeared to have drifted away, and I decided mid afternoon to go and follow up yet another tip from Jill on a Buzzard nest in Old Down. Temptingly she had sent through a picture of a young buzzard showing plenty of white down, so if I wasn't successful today they will be about for awhile.
Walking along Brislands Lane I could hear baby Blue Tits calling from within the rhododendrons, so I stopped to see if I could find them. I did, but it was very dark and they were very active with the parents extremely busy feeding them. I managed to find two together with what is just an acceptable picture.
The parents seemed to be everywhere buzzing under the leaves, to collect insects and spiders and dropping to the floor to find something in the leaf litter.
In the week I wasn't sure if I had seen young Whitethroats along the hedge on Brislands. Today though I saw four together, they darted in amongst the branches avoiding the camera today, while an adult followed after them with food in its beak.
Yellowhammers and Skylarks were singing either side of the lane as I walked into the wood. I disturbed a couple of Red Admiral along the main path, so decided to take the angled footpath through the cleared area. This is now an open area with plenty of sunshine. A large insect buzzed past me, and then landed. A dragonfly, and a at last the chance to photograph a Broad-bodied Chaser. It sat on a branch in the sunshine.
This species has a broad abdomen, this is a female, the males have a pale blue abdomen, the female yellowish brown, both though have yellow spots on the side of the abdomen, and a dark base to each of the wings.
I have not seen them in Old Down before, and the clearing of this particular area has produced a warm habitat that seems to be good for insects. Maybe as a result of the forestry work the Broad-bodied Chaser has found a good place to hunt.
Where the footpath feeds onto the main path there was another tree down..It looked quite a recent fall, probably as a result of last night's storm. I walked down the main path towards the west end in the search for the Buzzard's nest. I could hear young calling, but it was feint, and I was not able to pin point the origin of the calls.
At the west end entrance the fields in the distance just oozed summer..
I walked around the perimeter path, and then recovered my tracks, I had directions but couldn't find the right place. I decided to make my way to the perimeter track again in the direction of the Old Down Cottage entrance. As I fought my way through the brambles I came across a couple of Meadow Browns on the bramble leaves. These were my earliest Meadow Browns.
The path goes close to the fence, and I was suddenly aware of some one else close by. Looking to the field I could see a Roe Deer and two kids looking at me. I moved slowly raising the camera but that was enough for them and they turned to run off.
The kids look in good condition, and could move very well.
The field has been cut for hay, and there is little cover for the deer other than the area around the hawthorn tree. The female jumped the fence, but the two kids waited looking at here. She then came back, and led them away again.
A suitable distance from me they seemed to calm. But they continued to watch and listen.
The mother was looking to find somewhere that she considered safe for her kids, and she led them away, so I decided to leave them be.
I then met up with Jill, who thankfully offered to show me where the nest I was looking for was. I am glad she did, because I would never have found it. As we walked through the undergrowth I could hear a familiar sound from the sky, a Merlin.
It was though a Rolls Royce Merlin, and over the canopy, first a Spitfire flew over, followed by a Hurricane. This weekend is the annual celebration of War On the Line, based around the Alresford and the Watercress Line. Every Year we are treated to a Spitfire fly past, and if lucky a free display.
We reached the best place to observe the nest. Unfortunately there was no sign of the chicks. Jill has seen two, both with plenty of white downy feathers so they are a long way off fledging. The nest was also being buzzed by flies.
I did manage to see one white downy chick, but was not able to photograph it. I will definitely be back, and as they grow, there will be plenty of photo opportunities.
I headed back to the main path, and then out towards the Gradwell entrance. A couple of Speckled Woods drifted past, and around the battle field of fallen larches I stopped as another Broad-bodied Chaser buzzed around the larches. As I waited for it to show again, I noticed a butterfly in the grass. It was a Large Skipper, and an early one, and along with Meadow Brown, a welcome sign that maybe the butterfly doldrums are over.
I came out of the wood, crossed the field and managed to resist the urge to photograph the Swallows. A short walk, but once again it has delivered. Two Roe Deer kids, a first, the earliest Meadow Brown, a superb Large Skipper, and the chance to watch a pair of young Buzzards grow up. Wonderful