Thursday, 23 October 2014

22nd October - Blowin' Through My Life

The strong winds of Tuesday gave way to a calmer start, clearer skies and sunshine.  As a result with the sun coming up the Starlings descended into the garden once again, they occupied their usual vantage point in the nearby tree, and one by one would drop into the ground feeder or those hanging.

The process involves flying to the feeders, making the most of it before being turfed off by another who considers the incumbent has had enough, then flying up to the roof of the next door house to take in some sunshine.

The House Sparrows seem to have vacated the hedge for now, and I was wondering why when I noticed movement in the hedge, were they back, well the answer was no as this Starling appeared. 

I am not sure if this was a one off, or they have noticed the convenience, I will have to keep an eye on the developments.

The sky turned hazy towards midday, and the sunshine watery, and away to the west a bank of cloud was developing.  I took the chance to drive around the patch, with the first destination the pond.  I am intrigued by the Mallard that have been turning up, interested to see if there is a particular time of day for them, is it a roost site, or do they make use of it through the day.  When I arrived I couldn't see any, but a walk around the bank revealed a solitary drake at the far end, hardly a suit at all.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker called from the tall trees at the back, and a Chiffchaff was also present but difficult to pin down.  Before I left I decided to take a wide angle picture.  As I did so I could hear Redwing calling as they flew over.

From the pond I drove down Lye Way Road stopping at the gate to scan across the fields.  Small flocks of yellowhammer and Linnet flew past, probably from feeding in the field, I could also hear a Skylark singing from above.

I drove on to Lye Way farm, and as I approached the barns I could see a bird on the roof of one of the barns.  I stopped, checked and saw it was a Kestrel, looking down into the ground beyond the barn.  With the colder weather the Kestrel will use vantage points such as these to watch for possible prey opportunities, and I guess this was what was going on here.

I turned onto Lye Way lane checking the field where on Saturday there were two Wheatear, to day it was completely empty, the grass getting longer as it had not been used for grazing.

On the other side were the fields that a large flock of Golden Plover had been flying around, but they too were empty save for the odd crow and Jackdaw.

Ahead of me I saw a small raptor fly to the top of an oak tree, and as it did so it was immediately chased away by a Crow.  This was another Kestrel, and it flew off toward the Lye Way farm buildings, where I suspect it will not be a welcome visitor.

I wanted to walk up to the estate, and pulled over to park by the cattle grid.  Once again a Kestrel appeared from the tree by the gate, and flew across the field and ended up in a conifer.

Its flight had not gone unnoticed, because as it sat there doing no one any harm it was repeatedly dive bombed by Jackdaws.  Three Kestrels in a relatively small area was a good record these days, and I suspect they may be this years's offspring, there have been at least three nests that have raised young around the patch, which has to be good news.

I walked up the hill, it was quiet but I did notice several Woodpigeon were moving high, heading south.  I then heard a call behind me, and turned to see that the little Kestrel had not learnt to sty put when there are corvids about.  It was heading towards the Mountains Plantation and was being mobbed by at least three Jackdaws.

As well as the Kestrels there were also Buzzards soaring above the trees just along the edge of the fields.  I would imagine with such high winds yesterday it was very difficult to hunt, so today they had to take advantage of the calmer conditions.

I walked to the pond, where there was nothing of interest, and then a little way along the footpath.  I could hear Redwing calling but couldn't see them.  I decided on walking back, and watched several large flocks of Woodpigeons.  I could also see them away in the distance over Winchester and Dogford wood, the first real build up of numbers this autumn.

This is a distance picture but you can make out the flock of Woodpigeons.

When I got home I discovered that all along the south coast there were reports of the first significant flocks of Woodpigeons seen, counts of 2000 plus over the course of several hours moving south.  In my area there were some moving away but for most of the time they were gathering, it must be something to do with the area, or the potential food such as beech mast and acorns that attracts them.  The good thing is that with the large flocks of Woodpigeon come the predators, namely Peregrine, which is always nice to see.

Back home the afternoon saw the cloud build, and there were some spells of drizzle.  It was much colder now, with the sign that the next week or so would be much calmer and cooler. 

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