Through the morning there was heavy rain with quite strong winds. We were assured that the rain would pass by the early afternoon. The rain did pass through, but the winds remained. The skies cleared and the sun came out which was good for the evening intentions, but the wind remained which was not so good.
Katie and I set off around 19.30 and parked at the pond. It was the intention to walk around Old Down to search for owls and deer, first though a check of the pond where all we could see was tadpoles.
As we entered the wood the clouds darkened and we were treated to a short shower. Once it had passed we walked around the area where the deer had been recently, but with no luck at all. From there the next stop was the owls. Morris was in his tree, but flew off across the wood. We followed searching the surrounding trees for both im and any sign of the owlets, but there was nothing showing. A calling Chaffinch threw me for a while before it burst into song, and alarm calls from Blackbirds proved to be just as frustrating.
On deciding to leave we walked down to the west end view point where the clouds were providing quite an impressive scene indicating perhaps further showers to come
I had been advised that the Kestrels I had seen in wood during April mating were nesting close by. I managed to get a view of the nest in the dark with the female sitting.
We left the wood and walked back to the car. After a quick check around the pond for bats with the detector which did not turn up anything we headed off to Newtown Farm. Leaving the car and walking towards the barns three mallard flew up from the field. They are now becoming quite regular, but the thought on why they are here still remains. The three were a female and two males. A pair broke off leaving the lone male to circle on his own.
Looking across the fields towards the setting sun the clouds were just as equally dramatic, the scene enhanced by the Rooks making their way back to the rookery.
Looking across the fields where the sun was just managing to filter through the clouds the light was just reaching the edge of the field and surrounding trees.
We headed to the barn to check the Barn owl box, as we did a Hare came running off the field and sped away down the track from us. There was no sign of any Barn owls, but underneath the box there were plenty of droppings and pellets, some of the pellets were quite fresh.
Looking across the field a brown shape appeared at the edge of the pollinating strip. At first I thought it might be a Muntjac Deer as it looked quite small as it fed, but once it lifted its head it was clear to see it was a Roe Deer.
Having failed with the Barn Owls we turned back to try for Plash Woods speciality, the Woodcock. In front of us a Brown Rat scampered across the path, and at the barns we came across at least three large rats, all quite content to stare us out.
We walked the footpath east and stopped to check the fields for any more sign of Deer. we found one and watched as it fed in the grass strip. From there we walked up the main ride of the wood and watched and waited to see if the Woodcock would appear.
Out of the trees a buck Roe Deer appeared in the gloom. It was very difficult to make out, but it knew we were there as it started to bark at us. In this shot it is walking away, but I had no idea where it really was or what it was doing.
Suddenly from behind us there was a "pissip pissip" call and two Woodcock came through the trees and past us overhead. As they went by it was close enough to see the rufous brown plumage and the long bill.
We stood and waited and then the two appeared again, this time the "pissip" call followed by a series of grunting noises. They both flew off down the ride as if one was chasing the other.
Gloomy but acceptable record shots.
We had one more fly past before we decided to make our way back to the car, and as we came out of the wood two zipped across in front us again.
As we walked through the trees in the gloom Katie thought she saw a bat in front of us, then as we were coming out on to the path what I think was a Pipistrelle nearly flew into Katie (unfortunately I had left the detector in the car thinking it was too cold for bats!). It then appeared again as we walked along the path and we were constantly buzzed by it as it flew up and down the path close to the hedge and trees.
I tried as best I could to get a picture in the gloom, and the best I could come up with was this as the bat turned across the bright sky to the east at the end of the path.
I know it could be anything, but its dark, and there was definitely a bat about.
The ducks were still flying around, for what reason I don't know, and looking away to the east there were patches of cloud showing that rain was falling somewhere.
We had been fortunate though, one short shower being the only rain we encountered. The conditions had not been the best, but we had managed to see good views of roding Woodcock, a Tawny Owl and the first bats of the year, not a bad evenings work.