I have been away over the the course of the last two weeks, and I was very interested to get about the patch, had spring started to arrive? The mornings are much lighter now, and as the light comes up I can hear Blackbirds singing a good sign that the seasons are changing. Sunday was officially the first day of the meteorological spring, and there was plenty of sunshine but with a very keen wind, Monday was much the same as was today after overnight rain. The wind kept the edge off the temperatures, but if you could find shelter the sun was warm.
Once again I didn't have much time so I decided to drive around some of the lanes, I was curious to see whether despite the cold wind any Lesser Celandines were emerging, as I drove along Brislands and headed out past Old Down, the verge was looking dull and tired with no sign yet of any yellow flowers.
I drove down to North Street, and then headed back up the road towards Swelling Hill. With the sheep in the paddocks were a number of Common Gulls now in full summer plumage. I scanned the paddock for lambs but right now it is just a little to early.
I made my way to the pond, parked and then walked around by the sunny bank. As I got out the car, a pair of Mallard came from close to the bank, and swam away from me.
They appeared quite settled so if in a few weeks time there is only a drake maybe the duck has found somewhere to nest.
The sunny bank was in the sun, and there were a few Periwinkle flowers out. I stood an waited and watched but there were no insects, the wind far too cold for them.
I walked around the pond, a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling from the tall trees, and probably inspecting the old nest site from last year. A Buzzard called in the distance, and was probably circling above the trees.
At the over flow pond there was another pair of Mallard hiding within the low branches, two pairs is definitely a good sign at this time of year. I checked all the shallow water for frogs, another one of the reasons for being out today, but again it was probably a little too cold. If the forecast is right and it warms up by the weekend then I am sure they will be about.
As I walked back to the car I was taken by the reflection of the green moss and agrass in the water.
I wanted to drive along Lye Way, but found the lane blocked by Scottish Electric who were working on the overhead cables and supervising tree cutting. I turned back drove down Kitwood and headed off to the estate, where I parked at the bottom of the footpath, and walked up to the open fields. As I came up the path I could see Jackdaws flying around in a large flock, but as I watched them I noticed a larger bird coming at nme from the direction of the park.
It was a Red Kite and came over my head before banking away.
It flew away from me, out of sight, but as I crossed the cattle grid it appeared again over the trees.
And then circled away from me towards the estate buildings.
I walked up to the pond, another possible site for frogs, but found only another pair of Mallard. The drake looking splendid in the sunshine, the water providing wonderful reflections.
While the duck hid underneath the low branches of the trees.
I walked along the flint wall, hopeful of maybe the warm sun attracting insects or maybe a few early flowers, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. From within the garden I could hear both Blue and Great Tits singing.
I came out into the open, and heard a Buzzard mewing, looking across the field I found it and the reason for the calling was because it was being mobbed by a crow.
The Crow was very aggressive and would dive bomb and hit the Buzzard on the back.
The Buzzard wasn't up for the fight, and headed off quickly the Crow giving chase for a while, but once satisfied it was gone, held back, and flew off towards the fields.
I reached the path, and found what I was hoping for, the flower of a Lesser Celandine. Maybe spring is on the way.
Walking down the hill the fields to the left were producing a pattern of earthy colours as the crops began to emerge.
As I headed back towards the car, there were more Jackdaws flying over the fields and trees. The flocks were quite large and you could hear them chacking. While they were in a flock as they flew they would maintain pairs.
I drove along Lye Way to check for lambs but there were none so I turned around and headed to Alton Lane to check the Rookery. The Rookery at Garthowen seems to have been abandoned, but the one at the nursery seems to be doing well. The Rooks were very busy calling and flying around the tops of the trees.
Pairs would gather by thei nests and call loudly, then fly off only to return. This means that there are no eggs laid yet, we are still very much in preparation mode.
Like all corvids they are very adapt in the air, using the wind and soaring around the trees.
It is a very noisy place, and the birds call from the trees, and also while on the wing.
Last night as we came back from a run there were large flocks of Jackdaws heading towards the roost site in Chawton Woods, but the Rooks seem to be happy to settle down around the rookery leaving their winter partners the Jackdaws to roost alone.
There are some signs of spring arriving, and as you look out of the window with sunshine it can seem it should be warm, but it isn't, its just promising something that ultimately just isn't there, however the signs are it may just deliver this weekend.