We have just come back from a wonderful week in Pembrokeshire, the weather was kind to us, and we were able to be outside for the whole week. Details of the first part of the week can be seen here, but over the week the remaining day posts will be issued too.
We left Marloes at 6.00 am, and arrived back in Four Marks at 10.00 am. After sorting things out and some garden tidying I decided to have a late afternoon walk around the patch. It had been a warm sunny day, but by the time I set off there was a little more cloud and the wind had picked up, a sign of the approaching cold front that was due to give us rain on Sunday.
There was little to report other than a Large White by the cemetery as I walked down Brislands, by the junction with Gradwell a female Blackbird took the opportunity to have a bath in a puddle.
I headed out down Brislands to Old Down. Walking down the main path into the wood it was clear that there had been quite a significant removal of logs as there is now only one stack.
A Song Thrush sang from the top of the trees somewhere, with the leaves now fully out it is very difficult to find the birds. A Blackcap was also singing somewhere away from the path.
I walked the diagonal path, through the open space and then into the beech woods. There was still a few clumps of Bluebells about contrasting with the now very lush green leaves.
The Bluebell season though is now over in Old Down, there are lots of Foxgloves beginning to show signs of flowers, but for now the dominant plant is the grasses, their feathery wispy stalks giving a soft look to the wood.
I walked back to the main path, and headed out towards Old Down Cottage. I could hear the young Blue Tits calling form their nest hole, and waited to see if the parents would arrive. It would seem they were having a rest, as after five minutes they had not shown. I carried on, then turned onto the perimeter path, there had been reports of the Roe Deer with a Kid, and I was hoping it would show.
I stopped to check the Kestrels, the female still sitting, but as I watched her she was moving about a bit so I would imagine they should hatch soon.
I could not find the deer, it was maybe to early yet, and they were probably both lying down somewhere in the field, hidden by the tall grass.
I came back around to the main path, and headed to the pond. A Chiffchaff sang from the large Oak near the entrance. The Chiffchaff being the dominant song bird this afternoon
On the grass lawn outside the wood a pair of Mistle Thrush were feeding along with a Song Thrush, and a pair of Magpies.
As I approached the pond I could hear young Blue Tits again, at first I thought they were out in the tree, but it then became clear they were still in a nest, the question was where. As I got closer the calls became louder and I then realised they were calling from behind a sign on the tree. I stood back and waited for the adult, very soon one appeared with a beak of caterpillars.
The nest was some how behind the sign, probably wedged in the ivy, very resourceful.
I decided to walk around the pond, and immediately came across three Mallard, two drakes and a duck. Only another 58 required to break 2014's record.
With the pair here it is clear that they were not successful breeding which is a shame.
Alarm calls then rang out, and through the trees appeared a Buzzard
It circled around the pond while all the song birds called in alarm.
There have been bits about today, but it was very quiet and the doldrum days of the summer are fast approaching, but for now there was not that much about to keep the interest.
As I walked towards Kitwood I could hear Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks calling, but I couldn't find the nest hole in the trees.
I walked through the butterfly meadow, the flowers are coming through, and in a couple of weeks this should be good, but for now it was empty. The same can be said for the walk across the field, there was nothing about. I walked back into the wood not confident I was going to find anything. The entrance now opens up into a cleared area, and on one of the dead trees in the middle a Wren was singing for all its might.
Above me there were Swallows, House Martins and a solitary Swift hawking the insects above and below the trees. This area could also be good for bats and would be worth coming back on a still evening later on in the summer.
I walked on, down the path, and then out towards the Gradwell entrance. A Chiffchaff and Robin were singing as I reached the cleared space, and I disturbed a single Speckled Wood on the brambles.
A bird flew up into the oak tree, and when I got on to it, at first I thought it was the Chiffchaff, but it was too large and sat differently. Then it flew off on a sortie out and back to the perch. The day had brightened up, a Spotted Flycatcher!
The light was bad, and it was catching flys in the canopy, turning its head to look around for possible opportunities
Of all my Spotted Flycatcher sightings this one was in an area that is so suited to them, open canopy, and plenty of insects. I hoped there could be two, but couldn't find one. It moved to another tree, and I tried again to get a closer picture but the back light was very frustrating.
As I was watching the flycatcher I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker behind me, as I walked out it called again, and I managed to find it on the trunk of an oak tree.
Happier I headed back across the field with a couple of Swallows around me. As I walked down Brislands I could see another first for me in Four Marks, a Fun Fair on the Recreation Ground.
So just when you thought the day was going to be completely dull something turns up, I thought the day was all over but the Spotted Flycatcher saved it.