Saturday, 22 November 2014

22nd November - Its Hard To Hold a Candle

November has not been a good month for posting. Due to the weather and work commitments (yes I know a pain!) I have not been able to get out much, so when the morning started relatively dry I decided to head out before the forecast rain arrived.  It was dull grey and misty, and I knew straight away it would not be a day for spectacular photography, the ISO rating was cranked up, and never went below 1600 for the whole walk.

As I walked along Lymington Bottom I could see Jays in the tree tops along with Magpies.  As I picked up the camera they all but one flew off.



Above me as I walked along Brislands I could hear the calls of Redwing, in the hedgerows there were also quite a few thrushes, but I couldn't identify them, assuming by the many calls that they were Redwing.  Brislands still has quite a bit of colour left in the trees atht shape the avenue of the lane.



Then from the north a huge flock of well over a hundred Redwing appeared and headed over my head.



They continued over my head, and  I estimated there had to be around 300 to 400 birds.  One of the largest flocks of Redwing I have seen here in the autumn.

The Redwing moved through, and I noticed a large bird just above the trees following what would be the A31.  It was a Red Kite but drifted away from me and disappeared behind the tree tops.

I walked up Brislands past the turn for Gradwell, there were plenty of Goldcrest calling from the conifers, and the sad piping song of a Bullfinch, but neither appeared.  I then walked back and headed down Gradwell, and took the footpath towards Old Down.  As I walked past the paddocks I could hear plenty of calls, and the first I could identify was a flock of Goldfinch feeding on the seed heads of the weeds in the grassy area at the back of the paddocks.



There is a gap in the hedge down the side of the field that would allow me a better view so I headed there.  When I got there the birds were not in the field, but I could still hear Goldfinches and above them the seeps of Redwing.  I found the Redwing in the hawthorn bushes, they appear to melt into the trees, and you can never really know how many there are until they fly out.  This one though perched on a branch at the top of the tree.



It became clear that there were loads of Redwing, I could hear "seeps" and could see many birds breaking from the trees and flooding across the field in a huge flock.  At one point I could hear Redwing singing, it was only a sub song but reminded me of the spring in Iceland this year, where Redwing were singing everywhere.

I walked on a little further in the hope of getting a good view, and then all of a sudden the Redwing burst from the hedge along with Goldfinches, and Yellowhammer.



I turned back and a single Yellowhammer called from the hedge.  There were more deep in the hedge, but this one seemed to be quite happy out in the open.



It was misty, and there was a damp feel in the air, the November rain, never being far away.  Out in the field there were Meadow Pipits calling, and higher above them Skylarks were calling as they passed overhead.



The grey clouds and the misty conditions seemed to highlight yellow in the field against the still colourful trees of Old Down.



I estimated at least 500 Redwing in the area, they just seemed to be everywhere, their calls sounding so loud in the mist, in the same way they do when you hear them on a November night as they pass unseen above you.

I made my way to Old Down in the hope that they may be something new.  The wood though was very quiet, a single Wren called from within the fallen trees, and above a crow called and it echoed through the trees.  I tried to get a picture of the crow in the Larch, but as is always the case the crow seems to be very alert, and as soon as I raised the camera it was off.



I thought I heard Goldfinches calling, and this may have led to other species, but I never found them, and the tops of the Larches remained empty, as they have for two winters now.

I walked to the perimeter path, and looked west towards Ropley.  The sheep in the field were being attended to by Jackdaws, this one seemed to be inspecting the Sheep's ear.



The Jackdaws behave around the sheep like Ox-Peckers on the game in Africa, pecking at the pelts It seemed that only certain sheep would tolerate the Jackdaws, and the birds knew which ones, these sheep were more than happy for the Jackdaws to perch on their backs or heads.

I made my way out of the wood and headed towards the pond.  Looking down Kitwood Lane it had a similar feel to Brislands with the trees still holding on to their leaves.



At the pond the water was covered in leaves, and the surrounding trees were reflecting in the water.



I walked around the pond, searching the muddy margins and edges in the hope of flushing something, but only succeeding in scaring a Moorhen.  In amongst the grass and bare branches a single Herb Robert flower hung on to the summer.



Despite my extensive searching I found nothing at the pond, and there were no calls from th trees.  As I walked down the lane I noticed two Mistle Thrushes at the top of a tree lining the field, and with them were several Redwing, they seemed to be everywhere today



I walked down to the end of the lane, and made my way to the trees at Thrush Corner.  True to its name another huge flock of Redwing burst from the hawthorn bushes, easily another 200 birds, and with them several Fieldfare, announcing their presence with their unmistakable call.

The thrushes flew off and away from me, but as I watched them a Great Spotted Woodpecker called, and I turned to find it as usual at the top of the tree.



It then flew to a thicker branch and adopted a more typical woodpecker pose.



In the distance I could see the Thrushes flying around, and then one flock broke off and headed towards me, mostly Redwing, there were though a few Fieldfare, and one flew close over my head, unfortunately the conditions don't help this photograph, but you can see it is a Fieldfare.



The area was becoming quite busy, a tit flock moving through that included several Goldcrests, this one buzzing around the lichen on the branch.



I turned back and walked down past the school.  The rain had started up again, but was only a drizzle, but this at this time of the year can turn into something persisitent.

As I reached the five ways junction I could see a tree covered in Rooks and Jackdaws.  hey were using the tree to rest after feeding in the field, birds could be seen flying into increase the numbers in the tree top.



I headed up Gradwell, and then took the footpath to Lymington Bottom.  With so many Redwing about I knew that this would be like a magnet to them as there is a line of hawthorn trees covered in berries.  Sure enough as I walked up the hill the Redwing burst from the trees.

Many flew off, but this one let me get a reasonable photograph.



I walked down the footpath, I remembered the Woodcock I flushed last year, but this year there was nothing other than the Redwing passing overhead.

I made my way home, and as I turned into Lymington Rise a flock of Long-tailed Tits flew through, this one stopping in the tree close to me.



As I got home the rain started once again, and I had timed the walk just right.  I was now off to see the Wizard

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