Saturday, 11 April 2015

11th April - Just a Little Bit Of Lovin' Ah

Further posts of our Easter trip away to Majorca are now available on the "Away Blog".  

The warm spell broke this morning when a cold front passed through with a short but heavy period of rain first thing.  As quick as it came it left, and by 11.00 there was blue sky, sunshine, but a cooler breeze.  After a good breakfast Helen and I set out, the walk along Brislands was uneventful, but once in Gradwell there was a Chiffchaff singing, and a single Swallow flying around the horse paddocks waiting for its mates to arrive.

As we walked into Old Down Wood, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew up from the lower branches, and despite its best efforts to hide it eventually showed amongst the high branches.

A little further on a Chiffchaff was singing, but like all of them so far this year they have been very difficult to photograph.  This one was moving in a Larch tree, but kept moving behind branches.

The open areas are very welcome now, and they also seem to be an attraction for the insects too.  This Seven Spot Ladybird enjoying the sunshine.

Movement behind a tree close to the path turned out to be a pair of Great Tits.  We watched one disappear behind the tree with a bill full of moss, then appear with none.  Closer inspection found a hole in the tree and a possible nest that will be worth keeping an eye on.

Alarm calls rang out and I caught sight of a Sparrowhawk with prey in its claws.  We watched as it made its way through the trees, but there was no way I could get a photograph.

A Peacock butterfly went past us and settled on the dead wood that now litters the path, but also provides a source of warmth for insects.

We viewed the owl tree from a distance, and Morris wa there tucked in close to the trunk.  As the breeze moved the branches you could see the sun catch the tawny brown feathers of the wing.  We left him, not wishing to disturb him, there must be a nest nearby that hopefully by now has young.

As we walked down the path from the tree a Roe Deer buck came out onto the path.  Again this buck had lost his velvet.

Then following the buck a doe appeared

On Tuesday I could only find one flowering Bluebell, today though there were several more clumps appearing.  If the warm weather returns as forecast by next week there could be a good show.

We walked the perimeter path, and as we came out on to the main footpath, a Marsh Tit appeared on the branch close in front of me.

A lovely bokum.

The area leading down to the west end is now lovely and open, and there is life every where, flowers showing where before it was dark and wet, and birds singing.  This Wren a prime example.

We walked down through the Paddocks and two Swallows moved through.  There was none around Andross farm as we walked up Andrew Lane, so they must have been moving through.

We checked the usual spots for possible migrants but all we could find were this pair of Pheasants.

At the top of the lane there was even more lambs, but still a few Ewes that looked like they were ready to give birth.

This is a lovely family portrait.

But some lambs were just up to no good.

Surprisingly there were no butterflies on the sunny bank so we turned on to Lye Way. We could see the sheep quite close here, and found this family, that had probably only just been born.. The ewe still had signs of the placenta, while the lambs were very white and had signs of blood on the fleece where the ewe had not managed to completely clean them up.  They were also with out their numbers to tie them to their mother.  One of the lambs was sheltering behind the ewe from the cool wind, a shock to be out of a warm place.

Rather than walk Lye Way we decided to cross the field and take the path.  As we did Skylark called and sang above us.  At the end of the path was a small pond, the only life in it though was lots of whirly gig beetles, and this single Marsh Marigold.

We crossed the field again and then followed the path through paddocks.  It wasn't very productive the only thing of interest was this Small Tortoiseshell

We headed to the lunch spot for coffee and then down the lane towards Plain Farm. There was very little about here.  We disturbed some Grey Partridges on the other side of the edg so never saw them only heard them.  At the barns we flushed three Mallard which were then joined by another two, and then they flew around the fields before settling in an area that must be a pond.

Walking down the hill towards the grain dryers, a Red Kite drifted across us, always lovely to watch as they search the ground below.

Stunningly beautiful birds we are so lucky to have these residents.

From Plain Farm we cross ed the road and walked onto the Rotherfield Estate.  We crossed into the park and headed down the hill towards the footpath.  We flushed out two Brown Hare on the way and they scampered away in front of us.

A little bit further down the hill we looked back and could see both of them engaged in some form of conversation.

Looking towards East Tisted, the Rooks were busy with their nests.

We followed the path around to Newtown Farm.  It was very quiet.  Two pairs of Buzzards displayed above the trees of the Maryann Plantation, and from nowhere two Lesser Black-backed Gulls drifted over the fields.

Just past the barn we flushed a large flock of finches from the ground, there were Linnets, Greenfinch, Goldfinches and lots of Yellowhammers.

We walked through the Newtown Plantation, and then down towards Willis Lane.  Looking across the valley the pylons looked impressive, you have to either love them or hate them.

Rooks and Crows, could be seen in the surrounding fields, but close to the path was a black shape that was exactly a Crow sitting on the ground.  It seemed to be quite happy there enjoying the sunshine.

We walked down to Hawthorn lane, and crossed to the path that leads to Willis Lane.  Two Buzzards flew overhead, and then were joined by another that came down quite close.

Watching the Buzzard a Kestrel appeared.  As it flew over us it seemed to flicker its wings, as it came around we could see it had stray feather in the tail.

Then another appeared higher above us, and it then pulled its wings in and dived.  The first bird headed to a pylon, where it was joined by the diving bird, it then became clear as to why the first bird had tail feather damage.

Both birds were calling as the male flapped its wings to get into the right position.

The female probably making the more noise.

Wonderful to watch

And then they were off, the female flying off flicking her wings in the same way she did at the start.

We walk miles around the patch, and often do not get to see too much, and then a moment like this comes along, magic!

We made our way back home, across Willis to Alton Lane.  In the fields were Rooks and Jackdaws. 

As we came along the path towards Reads Field I noticed what at first I though was a sweetcorn.  Close look showed it to be a slime or fungus, and it was dripping.  I have no idea what it is, and have searched my books and the internet with no joy.  It was on Elderberry so if any one knows what it is then I would be pleased to know.

I have now been advised (thanks Ian!) that this could be a slime mold known as Physarum polycephalum, literally the “many-headed slime”.  It is a slime mold that inhabits shady, cool, moist areas, such as decaying leaves and logs, and eats other fungus such as white fungus that could be seen on these elder branches.  It has some amazing abilities for a basic fungus exhibiting characteristics of single celled animals.  For greater details this is the Wiki page, and here is a video that shows and explains how this fascinating mold lives.

After the rain this morning it was a lovely day, cooler but beautiful, it was great to get out.  As I said we walk miles around the patch, and sometimes struggle to see much, but today made up for some of those miles, lovely weather, spring coming and with it a just a little bit of lovin'.

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