The forecast for the weekend is not good, and looking out the window this morning the conditions looked ideal so I decided on an early morning walk. It was clear skies at dawn, but very quickly the mist moved in, this though had burned off a little when I set out. The wind was from the south west when it was possible to feel it, above all else it wasn't cold, we still had the Indian Summer for now.
I walked up the hill from Reads Field, and as usual I could hear the calls of Long-tailed Tits. These little birds seem to have done very well this year, and there is a large flock roaming around the gardens. They seem to visit at the same time very day. My time is just as the sun is setting, here though they were making their way through the willow tree at the top of Reads Field.
The House Sparrows were also busy, the females seem to forage and move about early in the morning, but the males are quite happy to sit on the top of the hedges showing off their grey flat caps.
The Starlings are just beginning to form small flocks around the area, at night you can see them gathering on the TV aerials before heading off to roost, and in the morning they reverse the process, coming from their roost to the TV aerials!
It will be interesting to see what the numbers are that flock together in the village this year. Year on year they have increased, last winter the highest gathering was 78, I would think this may be exceeded this year.
Coming out on to Blackberry Lane the tall Scots Pine loomed out of the mist, but what caught my eye was the blood red Russian vine that seemed to have been picked out in the branches by the weak sunshine coming through the mist.
I walked down the footpath from Blackberry to the open field. The contained footpath always makes me feel light headed for some reason, but this morning it was looking quite impressive.
Ahead of me as I walked down the path Blackbirds foraged along the edges of the path, and Goldcrests called from the trees. I stopped at the bottom to try and get a good look at the Goldcrests, but they were very elusive. As they called they were joined by a couple of calling Chiffchaffs but they never appeared in the open.
Once in the open it was clear that the mist was still quite dense over the field. Looking across the field all the vegetation appeared to be covered in spider's webs, the dew and moisture hanging on the silk webs.
Some of the spider's webs were quite spectacular, and this one was complemented with a large Garden Orb Spider sitting in the middle.
I crossed Alton Lane and walked past the garden centre. The mist was still with me, and has a way of making anything look bigger. This Rook looked quite huge sitting on the overhead wire.
After negotiating my way around quite a large bull in the field, I turned off the path and headed down the footpath past the Shetland Ponies. Everywhere was very wet, and unfortunately what sun there was breaking through the mist was on the opposite side of the hedge. I could hear plenty of activity, but only managed to see a single Blue Tit.
A Blackbird rattling out its alarm call from the other side of the paddock caught my attention and as I scanned the hedge in the distance, I found this Buzzard sitting on a dead branch in the mist. I don't think this was the object of the Blackbird's calls, but it looked quite impressive on the dead tree in the mist.
It stretched and then flew off, disappearing into the mist.
I carried on down the hill, and then across the road and through Homestead Farm. More Tits called from the Hawthorn Trees, first out was a Blue Tit.
It was searching the leaves, you can see the silk behind it so the search was probably for small spiders that hide close to their webs in the leaves.
A Great tit was a little more brave and came out in response to my "pishing"
Again I could hear Goldcrests everywhere, there seems to have been an arrival over the last few days. In the far corner there is a patch of Pines, and here I counted at least six Goldcrests but there could have been more.
the path here turns sharp right, and then leads to another line of Hawthorn, but these were now in the full sun. I stopped and waited listening to the calls. A Chiffchaff put in a brief appearance, called and then went back into the ivy. A tack called revealed a male Blackcap, my first for a little while, but unfortunately it too was not hanging around. To complete the set I heard a little snippet of Willow Warbler sub song.
I waited but everything turned quiet, and I decided to move on. As I walked towards Kitwood a Jay flew across in front of me three times, or of course it could have been three different Jays.
At Kitwood there was a little bit more activity. Chaffinches were calling and even fighting in the trees, and at least three Mistle Thrushes came out of the tall trees at Thrush Corner, and flew across to the hedge by the side of the road.
I was heading for Old Down, and intended to cross the field. This time of year a fly over is always an opportunity. The little butterfly meadow was no minus flowers, but the Beech trees that line the paddock were all showing signs of autumn colour, and the leaves were falling in what was now a rising breeze.
I walked across the field, and could hear Meadow Pipits above heading south east, and there was also a distant Skylark attempting to sing.
I didn't go into the wood, I walked around the outside. The idea was the outside trees were in the sunshine, but as I walked the sun went in, and the cloud became thicker overhead. A single Poppy was still in bloom at the edge of the field, hanging on to summer for just a few days more.
As I crossed towards Gradwell I was suddenly surrounded by calling Meadow Pipits. There was at least twenty birds that seemed to just appear, flying around as if to stay.
Finally they settled on the ground, disappearing from sight amongst the stubble. Only one stayed above the stubble perched on a sod of earth. Maybe this was the designated lookout.
It was not clear if these are migrating birds taking the chance to feed before moving on. The birds I had seen earlier were definitely heading south with a purpose. We get a small gathering here in the winter, but a flock of twenty is notable, so maybe they were just re-fuelling.
From Gradwell I walked home, the sun for now hidden behind quite thick cloud. It would appear that finally autumn is going to arrive Saturday, and that our quiet, pleasant and warm spell through out September is finally coming to an end. So I am glad I took the chance to take an enjoyable walk on a lovely misty morning.