We had made it to the late afternoon without any of that wet stuff falling from the sky, the sun was out, but there was a cool breeze, not enough though to warrant a jacket. With reports of many migrants about along the coast and inland in the south I hoped there might be the chance of something around the hedgerows enjoying the late evening sunshine and the insects it may bring. So looking to maximise the time I drove to the pond and from there I headed into Old Down. The intention was to walk the main path in the hope of a few butterflies, and then down to the west end.
The first part of my plan though was dashed by the fact the sun went behind some quite heavy cloud and it all went quiet. I checked the area of the field where the shelter and flowers had produced blues and a Brown Argus on Sunday, but nothing was moving save this moth, which I think is a Bordered Straw
From here I walked down the main path, disturbing a few Speckled Woods, then when the sunshine returned I could see several of these rather pretty and probably because they are brown, overlooked butterflies.
Bird song was at a premium, there were no contact calls from the trees, and where before there had been a nice large flock of small song birds it was very quiet. I could though hear the tapping of a Nuthatch somewhere high in the trees.
The paths are extremely wet and muddy as you would expect after all the rain we have had over the last week, and probably before that too. I decided to detour through the hazel trees and came out onto the field close to the footpath stile. I then walked down through the paddocks in the bright sunshine. In the fields there were grazing sheep and cows, and even further over a large herd of goats, something I have not seen before.
Along the hedges the rabbits were out taking in the sunshine, but watchful of me as I came ever closer.
As I crossed into Andrews Lane there were plenty of Swallows above me, calling as they alternated between swooping over the paddocks or circling the trees. As I climbed the hill there soon became plenty of evidence of the recent heavy rain, and also a clear demonstration of the power of water. There is plenty of run off from the field at the top of the lane, and over the last few years I have been able to see how this has steadily eroded what little tarmac there was there. However once through the hard tarmac the water has steadily shifted the hard core laid below, and cut a gulley down the lane. At the open area by the gate where I watch for migrants there has been a huge amount of flints and stones deposited.
There were sadly no migrants or any form of bird in the bushes, but I did see two Common Blue butterflies amongst the flowers in the field. Walking further there was more evidence of the erosion, and even large broken paving slabs moved. If any one wanted to demonstrate to schoolchildren how a river valley or gorge is made then here is the perfect model. Over the last three years I have been watching Four Marks own Grand Canyon being created.
I stopped once more at the Larch overlook (new name!), and while there were no migrants in the trees or bushes a pair of Ravens flew over. One flew off calling.
While the other decided to rest up on one of the pylons (where else would you expect to find one!)
The other then turned around and headed towards its mate, showing the classic diamond shaped tail as it twisted and turned in the air.
Finally joining its mate on the pylon
Above me I could hear the mewing calls of a Buzzard, and it drifted from behind the trees and then over my head.
I came out from the bushes and into the sunshine at the top of the lane, there was movement in the branches and I waited to see if anything would show. This repeated itself as I walked the path, me stopping after seeing movement, waiting and nothing showing. Then a yellow flash turned into a bird, and a Willow Warbler appeared.
Then it flitted about picking off insects.
Before finally settling back again to enjoy the evening sunshine.
I disturbed a Speckled Wood from the periwinkle bank, but as it flew off a larger butterfly flew by. I knew immediately what it was, a Painted Lady, would this one though stop for me. It dropped to the gravel on the path, and opened its wings and turned to the sunshine, unfortunately away from me.
I tried to get into a better position, and it flew off only to drop once again onto the gravel and turned its body to get the full effect of the sunshine. Having realised this I positioned myself better and got the picture I wanted.
At last a picture of a Painted Lady on the patch. The name Painted Lady is rather confusing, to some it refers to a prostitute, which would be a strange name for this pretty butterfly. I prefer the interpretation as "best specimen" apt I believe for a butterfly which contrasts a very delicate and beautiful appearance with strength to fly the distances they can cover on migration. Another fact about this butterfly is that they are the most widely distributed butterfly, inhabiting every continent other than Australia and Antarctica.
It was good to see this as it showed that migrant butterflies were still moving through. If I can only find a Clouded Yellow now I will have achieved my highest annual total of butterfly species for the patch.
Leaving the Painted Lady to its sunbathing I walked down to Lye Way, again in the search of some migrant birds, but I was not successful, the only birds showing being a large flock of House Sparrows.
Away to the west the skies were looking quite threatening, it would seem we were not going to get a day free of rain. I headed back through Lye Way Farm where the grain hoppers were open, the dryers running, and the Collared Doves were stalking their prey!
Just past the buildings there was some activity in the bushes, I did see fleetingly a few warblers, but they were impossible to identify. The only bird to pose for me was this male Chaffinch.
As I walked towards Kitwood the sun was now gone and it did look like rain. As I made my way back to the car I noticed a constant trickle of corvids above me either heading to the fields or beginning to collect into their winter roost gatherings. Mostly Rooks and Jackdaws the groups also included this year's young birds too.
Once home the rain did come, although only a short shower. The forecast for the rest of the week is for things to dry out, but remain cool as a result of northerly winds, I am not sure what that will bring.