Wednesday, 25 June 2014

24th June - When They Said "Sit Down" I Stood Up

Quiet just recently and we have been away again.

I was amazed to work out the other day that this was the 13th World Cup tournament I can remember, the first England won and its been all down hill since then.  But today marked a first for all those years of hurt, I wasn't bothered to watch England in the World Cup.  In the past I have raced from Heathrow to get home in time, avoided any form of media to watch a game that has been recorded, even getting a hotel to record the game so I could see it, but today, no.  It was a dead rubber, and there were far better things to see in my mind.

So as England were kicking off in Brazil, I was walking along Gradwell to enter the woods.  The prime objective today being to see if the Buzzard chicks were OK, and how much they had grown, it was a week since I last saw them, so I was of the opinion that they must have grown quite a bit.

As I walked the footpath into the wood from Gradwell there were at least a dozen Small Tortoiseshell butterflies around the the nettles and brambles.  They were obviously engaged in "love" as they were chasing each other in groups of threes, and then settling on the leaves.  I didn't  manage to catch them on the leaves, they were either out of sight or too quick, but I finally caught up with this one as it settled on the dry ground.



There were more Tortoiseshells as I walked along yjr main path, definitely the dominant butterfly at the moment.  A single Red Admiral took off from the bramble leaves but aside from that it was quiet.  A Chiffchaff sang out, and there was the usual Wren song duels going on.

I came across a male Emperor Dragonfly quartering a patch of grass between tow beech trees.  I waited to see if it would settle, but it continued to fly back and forth, with several chases to catch small insects.  The darts to catch prey were amazingly fast, and with such agility.  Incredible machines.

The fields along side the wood have been cut, and I could hear the begging calls of young Crows.  The young birds pestering their parents for food, when they looked old enough and big enough to do it themselves.



I could hear the mew calls of a young buzzard as I approached the nest, and I went to the position I had found best for viewing last time.  However today there was no wind, and the branches were covering the nest.  All I could see to start with was a body, and I wasn't sure if it was the adult.  Finally I managed to get a good view, and immediately could see it was the chick, but my, how it had grown.



There were now plenty of real brown feathers, and it was looking a lot like a buzzard.



It started to look around, and as a result it became a lot more visible.



Every so often there would be the mewing call, but it wasn't coming from the chick I could see.  Then I saw more movement below, and to the left of the visible chick.  If you look at this picture you can see a darker horizontal feathered patch.  This I believe is the wing of the second chick as it moved when I could hear the mewing.



The second chick was laying down in the nest, and is clearly a lot younger than the first, and who knows may be calling for food.  I waited to see if it would show, but it stayed down, so I left them and made my way back home.  As I walked up the main path I saw a butterfly different from the Tortoiseshells, a Meadow Brown.  They are still new enough to be photographed, I'll get fed up with them soon though, and they will become the woodpigeon of the butterfly world.



Coming out of the wood at Brislands I noticed a single Poppy by the side of the cereal crops.  The sun was just catching the petals.



There doesn't appear to be any in great numbers around the patch, but I have seen large fields around Winchester.

The area from the wood to the houses on Brislands has become the best place to find Whitethroat.  As I came out I heard one singing, in the oak tree, and there were several more along the hedge.



The numbers have been swollen by young birds bred this year, but it also looks like there are at least two pairs of adults, and that they may be nesting again.

As I walked along the lane I could hear Skylarks, and for once one came quite low, singing just inside the field.



The Red Admirals were still about, and they would fly past me not stopping, then as I passed the recreation ground, this one was sitting in the middle of the road in the evening sun.



Back at home I sat in the garden, and watched the antics of a Woodpigeon pair.  Clearly one of them had very clear intentions, but the other was not that interested.  A stand off ensued, the female not happy with his advances



but the male was not to be put off, and started to adopt a different tactic, his bowing approach.



Encouraged by the factthat she was still there, he moved to what we know as the "skip, hoppity, hoppity" tactic.  This is where he tries to sneak up on her without her really noticing, but the problem here is that she did, and he panicked and set off at pace, and she turned and ran off too.



A little later they were together again sitting on a TV aerial, and this time she was a little more attentive as he adopted the chest pumping, and cooing.



Mean while as all this was going on a pair of Collared Doves showed them how it should be done as they sat close to each other in a nearby tree.  They seem inseparable, going everywhere together.



I am pleased to report that all turned out well for the Woodpigeons.  As we sat in the lounge during the evening we watched them consummate their relationship on another house roof nearby.  So rest assured in the near future they will be a few more Woodpigeons to add to the vast number we already have around here.

For the record I caught the last 15 minutes of the England game, and was glad of the choice I took.

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