We were away last week on the south coast enjoying the unseasonable weather, for detail's and photographs go here.
Today was the first chance I have had to get out around the patch this month, and when I got up this morning I was pleased to see the morning moon in a clear sky, the rain and wind of Saturday gone.
A little later after a good breakfast we set off for a walk in lovely autumn sunshine once again. It wasn't as warm as last weekend but the sun is always welcome at this time of year. We headed up Brislands amazed by the swarms of rodents using the rope bridge on the housing site (!).
The fields are beginning to die back, and the grass has become more open. A male Pheasant was sitting in amongst the dead stalks as we walked by.
I could hear Redwings overhead, and expected to find them feeding on the many berries that are in the trees at the moment, but they were not there, and I eventually found a small group at the top of a distant tree. I wasn't sure but the bird on the right could very well be a Fieldfare, but it was impossible to make it out. I would have liked to hear a call.
The Bracken is now dying back, and the high fronds in the verge is getting lower, soon it will have all gone, and the road side will prepare itself to provide the right habitat for the celendines and anemones in the spring. For now though the bracken in its autumn colour looks quite spectacular in the wonderful light.
And in places there was the contrast of autumn and summer.
Brislands Lane was also looking spectacular with the colour and low light highlighting it away to the west.
There was movement in the hedges but nothing showed itself. I could hear Wren and Dunnock though. It was a really clear day, and you could literally see for miles. I could make out the water tower on the A34 just south of the A303 turn off, it always holds a special meaning for me, and only yesterday we had passed it in torrential rain, it was looking a lot different today
We turned into Old Down, the entrance looking a little more autumnal, but still with deep tyre tracks indicating the work was still going on.
The low sunlight was filtering through the trees that still had plenty of leaves. It would highlight areas and create little scenes. I was taken by this Bracken leaf, beside a tree trunk, and the contrast through shadow.
We made our way to the special Beech tree, hoping that it was still there, it was, but it also has the ominous pink mark on the trunk, I fear it will not last the winter. The area next to it is now quite open, and we stood and listened. It was very quiet, with no wind, but every so often a wren would call, or there would be the distant song of a Robin. Close by three crows were in the top of the larch trees, and they would call and break the peace.
As we stood listening a butterfly came by and settled on a branch of a tree. Another flew past as well. They were both Red Admiral, and they were enjoying the warm sun. Its always a treat to see butterflies at this time of year.
While watching the butterflies Helen picked out two Roe Deer that were watching us from a covered spot.
We headed off to the south perimeter, and walked towards the west. The old path has to deviate in places to avoid fallen trees, but this was nothing compared to what we found as reached the main footpath. All the Ash and Hazel trees had been cleared and logs lay across the path, and all over the wood floor. They have been cut into two metre lengths, and I have to assume they will be collected, but for now it looks devastating.
Heading towards the west end, there were at least three Jays foraging on the floor around the beech trees. They are always quite nervous birds, and you have to be lucky to creep up on them. Today was no different and they flew immediately I lifted the camera.
A Buzzard had been calling overhead, and as we reached the west end, I could hear two calling, probably two juvenile birds, they were very close, and then they flew past the entrance, still bleating away, in the hope of getting some attention.
The large Beech tree by the entrance has had its long low branch cut recently, and we were surprised to find a porcelain fungus growing from the cut area.
We left the wood and headed down through the paddocks. Away in the distance two Buzzards, probably the two that had flown past the wood earlier were soaring in the beautiful blue sky. It seemed to be a perfect day for flying, and they were making the most of it.
We headed up Andrews Lane, stopping at the usual spots to scan across the paddocks and fields. We didn't find anything, so had to settle for the lovely clear views.
A little further on we stopped to watch a flock of tits in the larches. They were very mobile and difficult to pin down. The Larch leaves though looked beautiful against the blue sky.
All the trees in the Larch family are deciduous, despite being conifers, and in the autumn they can produce some spectacular colours as the leaves die away.
A little further on some more movement revealed a Chiffchaff, again it was mobile and difficult to pin down, as you can see from this record shot, a true leaf warbler.
We headed on towards Lye Way, with little else showing. Over our heads Redwing drifted by, their presence being alerted to us by the calls as they headed east. The bushes around Lye Way farm had a small flock of House Sparrows chattering away in the sunshine, but at the little pond it was quiet.
Along the Lane a Kestrel headed out across the field, and the only other bird was this Meadow Pipit that posed nicely for once on the overhead wire.
Our walk took us along Kitwood Lane, I haven't walked here for awhile, and as ever was hopeful for something. The reality though was a lone Robin, that was clearly very shy today, and sang from within the hedge.
From Kitwood we headed up Willis Lane to the footpath that would lead to the Garden Centre. In amongst the leaf litter there was this lovely Common Earthball.
There were also more close to it that had not yet broken through the litter.
In the field behind the glasshouses the Rooks were feeding. Although as we approached they seemed to get word that there was a better opportunity in another location and they flew off. There does seem to be communication amongst them because I have noticed this behaviour on many occasions. A few were left though as we walked past.
Once again we stopped in the Tree House for coffee, then set off across the field to Blackberry lane. At the bottom of the valley, I saw a couple of Redwing again, and then heard the call of a Fieldfare. Frustratingly I could not find the owner, and I believe there were several present, however I was pleased to have finally found some, they have been late this year.
Interestingly when I got home and looked through the photographs, I now believe the right hand bird in the picture of the Redwings along Brislands was in fact a Fieldfare. It is never always clear at the time.