Wednesday, 6 August 2014

5th August - And Then Loafs About In The Sun

Indifferent weather over the last two days with the threat of showers.  The forecast for the end of the week is for the possibility of the remnants of Hurricane Bertie, so Summer may be coming to an end pretty soon.

There were a few showers about in the afternoon, but it looked to be dry as I set off in the late afternoon.  I was heading for the farm once again, there have been quite a few sightings of Whinchat recently and I wondered if just maybe one could have dropped in around the fields.

I made my way up the footpath as normal, and over the trees I could hear the pleading calls of young Buzzards.  I am not sure if you describe it as a bleat or a mew, but at the moment is the dominant bird call around the patch.  I saw one Buzzard drift over, and then another bird came into view with a slightly different behaviour.  It was one of the adult Red Kites we had seen last week.  From the feather damage I think it may be the female.



The feathers really do look in a bad way.  There was no sign of any other Kites, and slowly it drifted away across the fields.

Turning away from the Kite I noticed a butterfly or moth flying just above me.  I could see it was a reddish brown, and for a moment my hopes were raised that it might be a Brown Hairstreak.  However it soon became clear that it was a moth, and finally it settled on a leaf high up in one of the Beech trees.  I managed this poor photograph from which I was able to identify it as I believe a Vapourer.



Reaching the open fields I could see a lump on the path in front of me, knowing instantly what it was I adopted the "photograph, creep up a little bit, photograph again" technique to see how close I could get, this was the result.



Wonderful isn't it?  Just after this it was off, turning away and sprinting into the maize field.

I walked along side the field, the cut grass has almost been gathered in, but there is a little remaining.  I walked down to the quarry, and paused to look across to the road and the surrounding fields.  The sun was trying to come out, but there was a hazy feel to the clouds and it produced some strange light.



I walked up past the dryers where once again they were working at full pelt.  There wasn't the dust today, but you could see the flames from the heaters.  A single Kestrel sat on top of one of the cattle sheds.



It was then joined by another that buzzed the first, and then flew off to perch on the shed roof next door.  



I couldn't make out if these were both adult birds or an adult and a juvenile.  It would be nice to think that they have managed to raise some young this year as well.

I walked past the workshops and scanned the field.  The cattle were now grazing in the field with the oak tree, and watching them was another Hare, this time sitting upright and quite alert.



The field of Rapeseed has been harvested but the grasses and plants alongside it has been left.  As I carefully looked along the side I disturbed a large mixed group of Partridges.  I could make out Red-legged and Grey adult birds, and then a lot of young birds all feeding amongst the stubble.



I wasn't the only one interested in watching the birds, another Hare ambled out of the grass, and sat watching as they walked away.



Where possible I stopped to scan the fields to see if there was anything about.  Linnest perched on the wires, and there were plenty of Woodpigeons taking advantage of the stubble fields.  A lone Kestrel flew just above the distant hedge, probably in the hope of flushing some birds out.

As I reached the end of the lane I came across a clump of ragwort, and on it was an enormous Bumble Bee, it must have been 40 mm long.  As you can see it swamped the ragwort flower heads.



Just past the cottages I stopped as two Roe Deer walked out in front of me.  They were inquisitive but not unduly concerned.  The wind was in my face so probably they were not sure what I was, if they could see me at all.  They look like young deer, probably from this year.



I then noticed another away in the distance down the path.  One crossed the path and carried on eating while the other was a little more cautious.  Eventually the second deer stopped eating to look in my direction.  



I edged forward and they moved away, and I walked towards the distant one.  I though that maybe this was the adult, but as I got closer I could see this was a young deer too, the remains of the baby spots still visible on its flanks.



The field that I was always consider to be perfect for raptors, but hasn't been had also been cut, and there were plenty of corvids feeding, and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull was amongst them.



As I walked a little further on it became clear that there were in fact many more gulls on the field, they had been hidden in the dip of the field.



As well as the Lesser Black-backed there were Common and Black-headed Gulls all feeding amongst the stubble.



I walked along Charlwood, it was very quiet, not even the chatter of Swallows.  By the houses there was the sound of Blue Tits and Goldfinches, but they were from inside the trees and I never managed to see them.

Turning on to Lye Way there were a lot of Rooks in the grass field, and amongst them yet again more Hares.  This time three, they were feeding amongst the Rooks in the evening sunshine.



And that wasn't the end of the Hares either, as I stopped to listen to bird calls near Gillwood house another crossed the road as I looked down the path.  That made seven in total for the walk.

The reason I stopped for the bird calls was because I hear yet another Firecrest.  It called from within the bushes, and despite my best efforts it would not show, but with so many around here now (this makes the fourth location) I am pretty confident I know the call.

Convinced that it wasn't going to show I headed off towards the car.  The open area here is full of red-orange berries on stalks.  This is the fruit of the Lords & Ladies.  The berries are extremely poisonous, and are one of the commonest causes of accidental plant poisoning according to the hospital A&E departments



I decided to take a detour on the way home to check the pond.  I referred Sunday to the open mud that was there now due to the low water levels, and I suppose I will always be optimistic about something turning up.  When I got there there was indeed a bird wading through the mud.



But unfortunately not one that I was hoping to see!

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