We have been away for the last two and a half weeks in the heat and humidity of Borneo, more of which later in the "Away" blog. We arrived into Heathrow to be greeted with heavy rain and a cold temperature, we had been used to the heavy rain, but the cold was like a huge shock. The rain then continued off and on until Thursday when finally the sun came out in the afternoon.
It would be interesting to see how the landscape has changed through August, and I carefully considered the route I would take. I decided to head up Brislands towards old Down, I also wanted to see what work had been done in there as well.
The weather has been cool, and not conducive to butterflies so I was surprised when I saw one fluttering around a bush on Brislands, it was a Large White and after awhile sat on one of the leaves in the sun.
One of the signs of Autumn along Brislands is the emergence of the Cyclamens around the cemetery, I am not sure how they got there, and they are definitely not wild, but always have a bitter-sweet presence, lovely to see them, but at the same time a reminder that Summer has past and winter looms. They were just beginning to flower when we left, but now they are in full bloom.
Thee was a bit of a breeze as I walked along Brislands and past the houses, it was also very quiet, no bird song at all. At the entrance to Old Down there were still piles of logs that have yet to be removed, and the path in looked very tidy and neat, with no large tracks filled with mud and water.
The fields around the wood had all been harvested, and small groups of Woodpigeon and Corvids could been seen feeding amongst the stubble. The main feature of the landscape though was the haystacks, not the modern round bales but square monoliths just waiting to be climbed!
The woods, like Brislands were deathly quiet. I walked down the main path, and then took the perimeter path, I was keen to see what work had been done, but on the other hand was also wanting to try and see some wild life, and inside the wood there was nothing moving. I opted then to walk around the outside, and was immediately rewards with a Small White butterfly. It flew along the edge of the wood, and at one point was dive bombed by another before it settled again in what was now quite warm sunshine.
I walked around the wood, and then down through the paddocks to Andrew Lane. Swallows were buzzing around the trees and hedges, and a family group of Long-tailed Tits called from within a tree, but never showed. As I walked up the lane the lawn in front of one of the cottages was covered in huge fungi, that I think are Golden Bootleg, but I may be wrong, they were the nearest I could compare them with in my books, and the location and time is about right.
Suddenly the Swallows started calling loudly and the sky seemed to be full of them, then I saw the reason why, a Hobby flew over being hotly pursued by the Swallows, unfortunately I couldn't get the camera out in time as it zipped away from the attentions of the swallows. A first for the year, and I hope there will be more that are a little more confiding.
It quickly became clear why the area had attracted the attention of a Hobby, the sky was full of Swallows, young that have just fledges and adult birds guiding them on. This youngster though was quite happy to sit on the roof despite being buzzed by the adults and siblings.
Flying Swallows means yet another attempt at photographing them, and this is the latest effort.
I walked up the lane checking the across the paddocks, where there was only a few Magpies, and a distant Buzzard. At the next gate there is a line of Hawthorn bushes facing south west, and this evening in the sunshine. The trees were also full of berries. I scanned through the line of trees, and immediately found what I had hoped would be here, a Spotted Flycatcher.
As I watched it became clear there were at least three flycatchers, and several Chiffchaffs and a bright yellow Willow Warbler. I watched them for a while in the hope that there might be something new, but I couldn't see anything. This is a regular spot for autumn Spotted Flycatchers, with one last year and three the year before. The aspect and habitat being very good for a fall of birds too, somewhere to watch over the next few weeks.
With the hedges clearly being an attraction today I decided to walk down to the pond via the footpath by the hedge. It was now turning into a very pleasant evening, and looking through the hedge the sun was lighting up the farmhouse below, where earlier I had photographed the Swallows.
I disturbed another butterfly from the ground, and it flew away from me and settled in the sunshine amongst the stubble. A Speckled Wood in a different location.
There was little else and I turned on to the road, and then stopped at the pond, where in the far corner an eclipse male Mallard was feeding amongst the green duck weed.
A juvenile Moorhen also walked along the back of the reeds not coming out into the open. Despite the rain the water level is still quite low, so there is still hope for that wader!
I walked on, checking as ever the lawns, but only finding a single Woodpigeon. I turned to walk across the field to the wood, taking at first the path through the small meadow. The flowers of early August have almost gone, there is still some wild carrot, and knapweed, but it was not enough to attract butterflies and insects tonight.
Once again the field was just stubble and large hay stacks were dotted around the field.
I must admit it is nice to see the more traditional haystack of my youth than the round bales.
Once again there were plenty of Rooks and Jackdaws feeding in the stubble, the "clacks and caws" ringing out as small disputes set off, and the birds took to the air.
As I approached the wood the first thing I noticed was that the warning sign had gone, and then as I climbed the style the fallen tree had also been removed.
I walked around the perimeter path to the Gradwell entrance, the fallen Larch of the winter were now gone, and the area looked an awful lot more tidy, and open. Yet another landscape for the wood, the third in a year, I wonder what this will now attract into the area.
As I came out of the wood there was a large group of Magpies fighting with a pair of Crows. As I tried to photograph them I realised the batteries had died, so no pictures I am afraid. I made my way back home fearful something good was going to turn up, and I couldn't capture it. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately nothing did, and I had to be satisfied with two year ticks, mustn't be greedy!