The Starlings were never far away from the feeders, and could be seen sitting in the trees outside of the garden, the birds silhouette unmistakable in the trees.
We set off after breakfast and headed down Lymington Rise. A Jay was in the tree above us, and flew to a more convenient spot to allow me the photograph.
There appears to be a pair hanging around the area, and this was probably one of those birds, they seem to have learnt that there is readily available food available in the gardens. As we watched the Jay a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew out of the tree and across the road.
Where the surface of the road was wet along Brislands there were patches of ice, but the temperature was definitely warming up, and when you could get in the sunshine it was warming. I could hear Redwing above us as we walked along the lane, but could not find them. When I did stop a Great Spotted Woodpecker called above us, and I found it clinging to the branch. An unusual view, shows the strength of the claws holding on to the branch.
We came out into the open as we walked towards Old Down, the breeze was also noticeable, quite chilling. There were more stacks of logs lining the entrance to the wood, and the path and verge of the path leading into the wood was very muddy.
This year I had decided to use this view as the "through the year" montage, but unfortunately the scene doesn't seem to have changed very much!
Rather than go into the wood, we carried on down the lane through the Beech tree avenue, the winter sunshine lighting up the way.
We stood and listened, there were several Great Tits about, and they were difficult to see at first, but finally they came down from the tree tops.
As well as the Great Tits I could hear Coal Tits, and Chaffinches, but they stayed at the top of the branches of the tall Beech trees.
Walking down the lane, the sun was picking out the light grey flowers of the Old Man's Beard, turning them into silvery decorations all over the hedges.
The barns at the bottom of the lane are always a good site for a substantial flock of House Sparrows. As we approached the barns we could hear the sparrows chirping away in the sunshine. A little closer and you could see them in the hedge and on the barn. These three were sitting on the gutter.
The Sparrow's chirps resonated from inside the barn, although we couldn't see them, they were clearly up in the roof. The roof on the outside was also popular, and the sparrows were collecting together there.
As well as the Sparrows there were several Pied Wagtails, and they were looking to feed on the insects that were in and around the outside of the barns.
We walked to the bottom of the lane past the farm buildings. We passed by to piles of feathers that indicated that we were probably not the only ones to know of the sizable flocks that hangs around the farm. The feathers seemed to be the work of a Sparrowhawk.
We turned towards Ropley, and looking back you could see the long shadows cast by Old Down wood across the field. The sun is now at its lowest point in the sky, and barely gets any height. The positive thing thing though is that after the next few weeks the days will start to draw out.
Weekends are always busy along the Watercress Line, but this time of year sees the "Santa Specials", It seems that more trains are running and all the time we were walking we could hear the whistles of the trains, and the chuffing of the engines as they made their way up and down the line.
The hedges were quiet, apart from the piping call of a hidden Bullfinch. We turned up the road, and walked though Gilbert Street past the farms and paddocks. A very grey Blackbird was feeding with "normal" Blackbirds around the horses. It has the streaks of a female Blackbird, but not the rufous brown colour, this one was a very grey, but was a Blackbird
There was quite a number of Common Gulls in amongst the sheep.
Several though were closer to us, and I watched as this one "danced" on the grass in the hope of attracting worms to the surface.
The huge Beech trees of Swelling Hill are always a good spot to see Nuthatch, there calls coming from the top branches, and if you stand and listen, if they don't call you can hear them hammering away on the branches, probably at a nut wedged in a crack. Today they were confiding, and I managed to get a good view of this one.
There were the first signs of Snowdrops in the verge, this always being the spot o find them first. Maybe this year they will be out before the turn of the year. Some flowers that were out though was a surprise, a little clump of Primroses.
It was cold, but not as cold as Saturday, so I was surprised to see ice on the pond. The area is very sheltered and with the low sun, it was probably left over from Saturday's frost. When the sun di make it through the branches it set sparkles over surface of the ice.
We walked around the pond, again in the hope of flushing something, but as usual nothing did.
We walked down the road towards Kitwood. I noticed that at last the the trees are bare, it seems to have happened all of a sudden, the recent storms clearing the last leaves away. It makes it easier to see the birds, but still the Redwings manage to disappear when they fly in.
We headed along Kitwood, but for once there were no Thrushes in the hedge and trees on the corner. However as we came around the corner I noticed a Kestrel sitting on the wire. Its that time of year when the Kestrels give up hovering and take advantage of any post or wire to look and wait for prey to appear in the long grass. This bird was so intently looking down into the grass we were able to get quite close.
There is always a point though when you get too close and the bird realises its not alone.
But even though we were now quite close it was still intent on watching the field.
It did eventually fly off as we walked past, but didn't go far and perched up on a pole. As we passed again it flew back to the wire, there was obviously something in the field that had caught its eye.
A few moments later we heard another Kestrel calling, and then two birds flew past us, and we watched them fly into a distant tree.
We walked on around Kitwood, then down to Hawthorne lane. From here we walked up Willis Lane, and immediately came across a small flock of Redwing. Once again it was easier to hear them than see them, and when you did manage to locate them they would perform their disappearing act again. Finally I managed to find one in the open, although you would only know by the flash of red in the wing.
Along the footpath a Buzzard soared in the distance, and then just seemed to disappear, a few Rooks were also feeding in the fields
We headed to Garthowen Garden centre, and a latte at the Tree House, then it was back towards Blackberry Lane though the field, and eventually home, where Christmas presents awaited us for wrapping. Today was a day for waiting for things to come to you, a few are there if you are patient.