Sunday, 17 May 2015

15th May - You Promised To Put Me In a Magazine

After the rain of Thursday it was welcome to see some blue sky in the morning, unfortunately this did not last and it soon clouded over, the wind from the west was brisk, but not cold.  At the end of the day it was a little brighter, but more important still dry, so I decided to head off for some welcome exercise and a walk around Old Down.

As I walked down Lymington Rise alarm calls rang out from all sides.  I expected a Sparrowhawk, and definitely not what appeared from a garden, a Grey Heron.  It beat its way over the trees and then headed towards Reads Field.

I walked down Brislands where a Song Thrush was singing from the trees, and another was searching for food at the side of the lane.

I suspect the singing bird has a mate sitting on a second brood somewhere while the bird on the lane was still looking after fledglings.

Swallows were flying alongside the trees at the junction with Gradwell, and as I turned down the lane two settled on the wires.

I slowly walked closer and was able to get quite a nice photograph despite the grey white sky.

Behind me I could hear quiet calls coming from the Oak tree.  I searched through the branches and found an adult male Chaffinch tempting a newly fledged bird with some food.

The adult didn't give the food to the begging fledgling, but just led it though the branches using the offer of food as a way of getting it to fly a little bit.  The fledgling though seemed to realise what Dad was up to and sat still.

When it turned to face me it had a quite comical look, the downy feathers on the head looking like the grey eye brows of an elderly gentleman.

I had noticed the bare branches of the Ash trees as I walked along Brislands.  At one stage this spring I thought the Ash was going to beat the Oak into leaf, but they all seem to have stopped and not progressed.  I am afraid this may be down to the trees now suffering from Ash Die Back disease.  Ash dieback, is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. 

The disease causes leaf loss, crown dieback and bark lesions in affected trees. Once a tree is infected the disease is usually fatal, either directly, or indirectly by weakening the tree to the point where it succumbs more readily to attacks by other pests or pathogens, especially Armillaria fungi, or honey fungus.

Looking at this photograph the leaves look to have never fully developed, and have died or shrivelled.

Many of the Ash trees look like this which is a real shame.

I walked into the wood, and took the main ride.  I could hear Great Tits calling and there was also a Chiffchaff singing from the tall Oaks.  I walked to the Owl tree, and as I approached I could hear a strange squeaking sound.  I checked the tree and there was no one home, but suddenly an Owl flew out of another tree, quickly followed by another which I can only assume was the mate.  I had my suspicions the calls I heard could very well be Owlets, and this was confirmed when I got home later.  I checked the close trees for any signs, but once the adults had flown off the calls stopped.  I couldn't find anything so finally decided to leave the area, not wanting to disturb too much.  

As I turned to walk away I could hear movement behind me and turned to find a young buck Roe Deer looking at me from the bluebells

This is #2 I photographed in April.  He was not bothered by me, just watched as I walked down the path.

A little further on I came across another.

This buck was a new one, I haven't photographed him before, he has a longer point on the right hand antler at the base.

I crossed to the perimeter path, and walked around towards the west end.  Wren seem to be everywhere.  their song ringing out.  These are males trying to attract a mate.  Apparently the male will build several nests, these will not be lined and it is not until a female accepts the offer do they both line the nest with feathers.  This bird was not singing, but was carrying a feather so is probably a female looking to finish off the nest she has chosen.

I walked on, and then came across yet another Roe Deer.

This one is #1 from the April photographs, having two forward prongs on the antlers.

I also saw several doe deer, and they would move away and watch me from a distance.  I looked to see if there was any sign of kids but could not find any.

I walked around the perimeter path.  The Bluebells are now passing their best, and in places have died back.  With there not being any canopy though the empty space they leave is quickly filled by Filed Mouse Ear or Ransoms.  The Early Purple Orchids were still in flower, and I came across a small patch of much lighter ones.  I don't think they are a different species but a variant of the darker purples ones.

On the main path through the wood, Red Campion are coming into flower, some can be seen as a pink, while others are a lot redder.

For once I decided to walk around the north east part of the wood, and as I walked the path I noticed a Lesser Black-backed Gull in the field.  This bird has been hanging around here for sometime, but this was the closest I have managed to get.  It is a third calendar year bird, the upper wings still not quite showing the full dark grey feathers.  You can also see the yellow legs which are a clincher if you have any doubt it may be the larger Great Black-backed.

Here you can see the upper wing colour.

It was quiet on this side, all I could hear were the calls of Swallows above the trees as I walked along the perimeter path.  The Spruce trees are just starting to have new leaf growth.  These leaves are not only a bright vivid green, but to touch are cold and almost damp, while at the same time soft in comparison the the spiky mature leaves.

As I came out of the wood I could see the Swallows flying alongside the woods, and then out over the field.  Swallows will always present me with a challenge I can not resist, so yet again I had a go at photographing them with some mixed results, the pale grey skies always presenting a challenge.

After a while I decided I had enough shots so set off for home.  As I came down Brislands there were signs that he sun may finally appear for the evening, and away across the roof tops a Horse Chestnut tree proudly showed off its "candles".  Its a shame that later in the year this beautiful tree will probably have its leaves struck down by the leaf miner moth.

Back in Reads Field the House Martins were about in numbers, flying high above the houses.  They too present the same challenge as Swallows.

Here is another that almost looks like the same shot!  The Hurricane to a Swallow's Spitfire

An interesting couple of hours with some special encounters in a wood that looks absolutely stunning.

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