The Tawny Owls were calling again early this morning, it was a clear morning, and it seems they have settled around here. I have no idea though where they are, it sounds once again as if it is in the trees at the bottom of the hill.
The sun and blue skies were with us all day, but as I came home I could see the bank of cloud away to the west that signaled a change in the weather was coming. The calling owls this morning had convinced me that I should try and see if there were any owls around Plain Farm, the conditions were perfect, but as I drove up to the farm the skies were completely overcast, and a wind was picking up. Last week I said that was the last evening walk, but one should never say never.
As I walked up the hill I could hear Goldcrests, and I stopped to see if there was any sign of the Firecrests, but nothing appeared and even the Goldcrests stopped calling.
Woodpigeons streamed across the field, there have been some incredible numbers throughout the county over the last few days, with counts into the tens of thousands. As I watched the Woodpigeon flying over the tree tops here I reckoned that many must have turned up here.
As well as the Woodpigeon, there was also a large gathering of corvids, mostly Rooks and Jackdaw were again swarming over the tops of the Mountains Plantation.
Last night at this time the clear skies allowed for good light, but today at the same time it was quite gloomy, and it was very difficult to pick out a covey of Red-legged Partridges as they scurried across the tilled field.
I walked down the main trail, with more Rooks swarming above me. At one point a Kestrel in a tree decided to strike first and I watched it chase the Rooks away.
When I reached the end of the path I looked across towards the house, and in the gloom I picked out a Red Kite circling around the distant trees.
I was hopeful that there would be some winter thrushes about, and sure enough a flock of Redwing announced their arrival with the familiar "seeep" calls above me, and they flew across the trees and field towards the top of a distant oak tree.
I had hoped to find some Fieldfare, but there was no sign or sound of them. They are late here this year, by now last year there were flocks all around the patch.
Away off towards the west the sun was lighting up a low gap in the cloud as it set, it was just past 16.30, the clocks going back bring darker evenings on us now.
I scanned across the park to the east, and then walked down the beech avenue. There were one or two old Parasol mushrooms in amongst the grass, but that was about all I did find in amongst the trees.
At the end of the path I turned and headed back along the footpath that goes past the cottages, this was new ground for me, and as I walked through I could hear a flock of Goldcrests, and several calling Wrens. I disturbed a Pheasant from the long grass, and as I followed its flight I picked up a flock of birds in the distance.
As I tracked them it became clear they were ducks, Mallard looking for somewhere to spend the night.
I walked past the quarry footpath, and then along the path past the plantation. From the scrub close to the edge of the field several Pheasant broke cover and flew across in front of me, and away into the cover of the trees.
It was now very gloomy, and I decided to walk down the main path again. I am nothing if not totally optimistic, and I remained hopeful my efforts would be rewarded. There were calls coming from the field, and all I could make out were light blobs, which on closer look turned into Red-legged Partridges calling. The camera enhances the light, believe me it was much gloomier than this.
A Kestrel called continuously from a tall conifer, and then flew out and around over the field, the flight very different from normal, it was almost like a display flight, fluttering the wings and calling all the time. It came down very low passing over my head. All I could see though was a silhouette in the gloomy light.
It settled into a tree, but was clearly not settled and very soon came out again and flew around with the same flight behaviour and again continuing to call. Then it became clear the reason for this display, it was joined by another Kestrel. They flew around together and then both settled into one of the conifers, with no further calling. It obviously didn't want to go to bed on its own, and was calling for a partner to join it.
The Barn Owl was not going to appear so once again I walked down the hill to the car having failed in my mission to find one yet again. A Tawny Owl was calling from within the Mountains Plantation, the search for territory seems to be starting with a vengeance.
I drove around the lanes but saw nothing else, I also popped into the pond to see if there were any roosting duck, but even in the now dark conditions it was quite clear there was nothing there.
I am now certain this will be the last mid week late afternoon report for the year.