The mist of the previous days had gone this morning replaced with blue skies, sunshine , and a brisk, cool north westerly wind. Yesterday was a big day for me, finally laying the ghost of a bogey bird, for details see here Today though it was back on the patch and a morning walk around the woods, could I gather the enthusiasm?
I set off down Lymington Bottom, and was immediately confronted with a large flock of Long-tailed Tits in the trees at the junction with Brislands
As I watched the tits I noticed a Jay hopping through the branches with a red berry in its beak, probably looking to hide it somewhere. With the jay in the tree the Long-tailed Tits moved on.
I decided to walk to the footpath, and then across to Gradwell Lane. The paddocks here are not currently in use, and the grass was very long, so my hopes of maybe some chats here went quickly out of the window. The hedges hre had a few calls from Chiffchaffs, but very little else.
It was the same as I walked around the field and past the horse paddocks. As I walked across the field to Old Down, I could here the calls of Meadow Pipits, and I managed to pick out a few as they flew overhead, I am not sure though whether these were migrating birds, as a small flock will gather here at this time of the year.
In the wood it was much of the same, a lone Robin singing to declare its territory. I took the south perimeter path in the hope that there might be some fungi about. There were signs that some had come out, but they had either been trampled on, or eaten in the night.
Movement in the fallen branches caught my eye, and I thought I saw a mouse or vole run along a horizontal branch, however it soon appeared and I could see it was a Dunnock. The Dunnock is a bird that is very much overlooked, no one ever says "I saw a beautiful Dunnock today". Its sad in away because in there own special way it has some beautiful plumage, and if it was one of those rare autumn migrants I am sure everyone would enthuse about this little brown bird.
Over the last few weeks when the clouds have cleared the sky would be a washed out blue, but this morning the sky was that azure blue colour, contrasting vividly with the white fluffy clouds. From within Old down, the sky is now clearly visible.
i eventually found some fungi that had been damaged or eaten. This Sulphur Tuft appearing on its usual site, an old tree stump.
While this old dead Birch trunk was riddled with Birch Polypore.
I came off the perimeter path, and onto the main footpath that runs north to south through the wood. I haven't been here for awhile and so I took my time to look around. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from within the trees, and then sounded clearer and closer. I looked around and finally found it calling from the top of a lone larch.
A tit flock then appeared with mainly Blue and Great Tits, and a few Long-taileds, but if you stand and wait you will usually find there are other hangers on. In this case I managed to see a Treecreeper, a single Nuthatch and a pair of very vocal Coal Tits. The Goldcrest and Wren are considered our smallest bird, but the Coal Tit is not far behind them, and in many cases probably some are as small if not smaller.
The wood may appear quiet and empty, but if you take the time to stand and watch and listen inevitably something will appear. The small birds were entertaining as they made their way through the trees, but then I heard the caw of a crow above me, clearly not happy about something, and then in the blue sky I saw a Buzzard fly over, quickly followed by a mobbing crow. There were in fact two crows, but one was a lot more intent on mobbing the Buzzard. You have to feel sorry for the buzzard, it must be like being attacked by an annoying (large) insect.
I then walked on, debating with myself where to go. I set off for the west end, but my heart wasn't in a full walk, so when I reached the style for the Desmond Paddocks I stopped and looked out considering where to go. Once again the calls of Crows brought me back from my thinking, and two were chasing a Sparrowhawk this time that was flying across the field. I managed to photograph the hawk, but in being quick all I have are silhouettes, still it is an unmistakeable shape.
Clearly my heart wasn't in a circular walk around Andrew Lane, there had been a few warblers calling on the walk so far, but the lack of movement overhead did not fill me with encouragement. The weather needs to change to bring in some birds, and while it was drier and fresher the wind was still coming from the same direction, north, not a conducive direction for migrants.
I looked along the hedgerow, a Chiffchaff called as did a Blue Tit. The ivy was an attraction for bees and a few Hornets. These are probably from the nest at the bottom of Andrew Lane
I could hear the chatter of Swallows, but it wasn't from birds moving overhead, but from a young bird sitting on the fence wire in the paddock.
The chatter came when the youngster saw its parent come close, it would flutter ist wings and beg, the adult dropping in to feed the young one.
The adult would then sit on the fence wire with they youngster before flying off to catch more insects to deliver back to the young bird. Very soon this little bird will be independent and then heading off on a incredible journey to Africa, and then hopefully returning here next spring, what an amazing feat.
The paddocks were looking splendid away to the west, fluffy white clouds, rich green grass and the intermittent bleats of sheep, and the calls of Rooks
I finally made up my mind and decided to walk back through the wood. I took the new path through the middle and very quickly came across three Roe Deer. They were all young bucks, with varying growth of their small antlers. This one has managed one prong on his antlers.
While this one has two, and this one was a little braver with me, and clearly able to influence what the other two did. His bravery rubbed off on the other two, who decided to come back and stay me out with him.
I left the deer and walked down the path. looking back you can see how this has opened up the wood while providing a nice walk way which allows you to enjoy an area of Old Down that was completely inaccessible before.
The walk home was uneventful apart from a clearly lost little dog at the Brislands entrance, fortunately dog and owner were reunited. A flock of Goldcrests teased me by the recreation ground, by that aside I saw nothing else of interest.
At home I was fascinated to find this ants nest. They have pushed the soil out of the ground and it is beginning to form a tower. A mini ant mound not unlike in shape the termite mounds we have seen in Africa and Australia, if not much, much smaller.
The moth trap overnight had not revealed anything different, it seems to be stuck in an underwing groove. While a quiet day it was a nice walk in what was quite cool conditions, a big change from yesterday, is autumn finally going to arrive.
Checking the south coast reports in the evening there was a slight increase in grounded migrants, but I assured myself they would not have turned up here, and my malaise this morning would not have meant missing anything.