Sunday, 21 December 2014

21st December - Winter Is The Glad Song That You Hear.

Today is known as the Winter Solstice, supposedly the shortest day, the truth is though the sunrise and sunsets timings vary over the next few weeks, that the shortest day is not necessarily being the designated Winter Solstice.  Yesterday was bright with some sunshine, and I spent the day walking around the Lower Test Marshes, details can be seen here  This morning though the clouds were much heavier, and it was rather gloomy.  The wind too had picked up, and despite the milder temperatures it still felt cold.

Before we left I watched the two Robins that have set up territory in the garden, they had come a little too close and there was a tense standoff between the feeders.

I decided to set off down towards Telegraph Lane, with the intention to walk around the Newtown Farm.  As we walked it felt as if it would be one of those quiet days, the wind was quite fresh, and with the cloud it was quite dark, in keeping I suppose with "the shortest day".

At the back of the petrol station there is a collection of trees that are well laden with berries.  These have now attracted the interest of the Blackbirds, and we counted at least 10 birds in the vicinity.

We walked along Weathermore Lane, and there was almost nothing about.  I say almost because I did hear a Marsh Tit call from withing the conifers.  That was it though.  I can't remember a time when I have walked so far without anything of note to be seen, it was very strange, but as I said not to be unexpected.

From Weathermore Lane we walked to the crossroads with Willis Lane, and then past the golf course.  Desperate for something to look at I stopped to photograph the buds on this magnolia tree.  They are a little advanced for the time of the year, but it is definitely a slow news day.

We walked down the road towards the farm, the wind was now quite strong, and the dominant sound around us.  There was not even any crows in the fields, and up until two Mallard flew over the only bird we could see was a Woodpigeon on the wires.

When we reached the cattle pens suddenly we were face with a large mixed flock of Chaffinches, and Goldfinches.  They would fly up and sit on the barn roofs, and posts

On the other side there were a few Pied Wagtails, and at least one Meadow Pipit flew past.  We walked on, and found one of the trees at the back of the barns covered in Chaffinch and Goldfinches.  I searched through them in hope of a Brambling, but I could not find one.

Once we left the farm buildings it was back to a bird less scene, we walked through the beech wood, and then to the path that leads to Hawthorn Lane.  It is open here, and you can see across the fields towards Lye Way and Plain Farm, but there was nothing about, no sign of any birds, and even the Woodpigeon were sitting tight.

We crossed to the path leading to Willis Lane, and up past the horse paddocks.  We stopped to watch the antics of a pair of horses, and two Redwing flew over.  At last some birds, so even though they were distant at the top of the tree, I had to take the picture.

We walked up the footpath from Willis where the fields and paddocks are normally very quiet, so I must admit to being surprised when I saw a bird sitting in the paddock.  A closer look revealed a Green Woodpecker.

There were in fact two because as I took this photograph one flew over, and this one joined it.

We walked on, and went into Garthowen, and the cafe for a warming coffee, this is now becoming the habit!

From the cafe we headed back across the field to Blackberry.  The landowner continues cut back the trees for some reason, what was a lovely thick holly hedgerow.

As we came into the houses a Rook was sitting on a TV aerial, and unusually, when I lifted the camera it didn't fly off and I was able to get quite a respectable photograph. 

Rooks are one of my favourite birds, I love watching them, and of course being a corvid are very intelligent.  This picture also gives me the chance to show the difference between them and a crow.  The Rook has the bare patch at the base of the bill which is also much lighter than that of the Crow.  Rooks are the main reason for the scarecrows, as they are more likely to feed on seed in the fields.  In truth they should be called Scarerooks.

So a very quiet walk at the end of the astronomical year.  Hopefully some cold weather, and clear skies will improve the situation, once again I need some motivation, thankfully though we are heading towards a new year, and everything starting again.

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