The rain returned yesterday with a vengeance, and then today there were heavy showers along with overcast skies. However late afternoon the skies began to clear, and the radar showed a nice quiet patch around Four Marks so I decided to give it a go, but at the same time prepared for any sudden down pour.
I also decided to stick to the roads and lanes as they would be dryer, so I headed down Lymington Bottom, and up past the school. As I looked across towards Old Down Wood I could see two birds soaring above the Larch Trees around the area of the Gradwell entrance. At first I thought they were Buzzards, but a closer look showed them to be Sparrowhawks.
As I watched them, both birds went through a semi display flight, soaring up, and then dropping and then looping back up.
And they even engaged in some close contact, at one point it even looked like they had locked talons.
After two persons were kind enough to say how much they liked the blog, I carried on in the direction of the pond. My intention this evening to was to walk the loop that takes in the western side of the patch, it follows fields and paddocks and of course plenty of hedgerow.
I stopped at the pond, and walked around the outside. As usual a Moorhen scurried across the lily pads and away into the reeds, while above in the Oak trees a Jay was calling.
It seems to have suddenly come upon us, but its that time of year once again when the Jays are busy caching for the window. As it put its head up it had a nice large acorn in its bill.
I was walking down Swelling Hill for once, and above the canopy of the trees I could hear a Buzzard calling. As I came down into the open area of the paddocks, I could see Swallows hawking low over the grass, weaving in and out of the sheep, and there were also a lot of young birds settled on the wires. In the field on the other side a flock of at least 30 Pied Wagtail flew up, circled around and then headed into the trees.
By Andrews Lane a Great Spotted Woodpecker called, and was immediately answered by a Green Woodpecker in the bushes on the other side. I could get to see the Green Woodpecker, but found the Great Spotted at the top of a conifer.
I have seen them at a distance as I have walked through the paddocks, but today I was able to get a little closer to the Goats that were using one of the paddocks. This is the first time I have seen goats in the field, and they also seemed interested to see me.
As I walked down past the farm and then up the road back towards Brislands, apart from a few Magpies in the field, and a crow flying over I saw nothing. Coming up past the farmhouse there were one or two House Martins over the trees, and at the cow sheds there was very little also, no sign of any House Sparrows or indeed any expected Wagtails.
In the field there were several groups of Rooks feeding on the freshly turned over soil, but no sign of any gulls.
As I came out of the trees by the Brislands entrance to Old Down, a Buzzard called, and briefly showed as it flew over. Away to the west the sun was almost set, and the sky had that autumnal look about it.
There must be a waiting period after harvesting the crop, until the stubble is turned over. The field to the north was the first to be cut this year, and now it looks like it is first to be ploughed. Once again the only birds present were Rooks.
Looking across the field to where I had come from earlier by the school the setting sun was just catching the tops of the trees.
My instincts had let me down today, the walk around the western area was proving to be very quiet, and I was resorting to landscapes. It was then a relief when another Great Spotted Woodpecker by the Gradwell turn, and once again it was at the top of a conifer, the sun just catching it.
They also seem to like Leylandii for some reason, but I suspect it must be the height.
As I came down Brislands there was movement in one of the hawthorn trees, then a flash of pink and white. Normally Jays are off at the slightest encounter, but this one seemed mesmerised by what I was doing and allowed me to get quite close.
For once the sound of the camera shutter did not seem to phase it, but just make it even more curious.
I am assuming it was the hawthorn berries it was after, but I tried to get just too close and it then flew off.
As I walked along Lymington Bottom towards home, I was mulling over how quiet it had been. It was now getting a little dull as the sun had now set, but the sky was brighter away to the west. As I reached the turn for Lymington Rise I noticed what I thought was a swallow heading west, but it seemed a little too big, and wasn't flying like a Swallow. With long wings and a prominent tail it definitely wasn't hirundine, and I could make out a moustache, I realised it was a Hobby, and as seems to be the way with Four Marks Hobbys I managed only a record of it as it zipped away across the houses and out of view.
I had resigned myself to have had a quiet walk, the title of this blog refers to a quiet walk, and here just at the end was a first for the year, and a bird I had been on the look out for recently as the Swallows and House Martins stream through. Hobbys have been regular for many years now, either at this time of year or mid summer. I was beginning to get concerned but here was one, in the gloom and a stones throw from my house.
As I walked up Lymington Rise the local Starlings were gathering pre roost in the Larch Trees.
They would fly around in little groups returning to the trees or onto the television aerials.
We don't seem to get the influx of continental birds that build up around the coasts, but over the last few years the numbers have grown during the winter. It will be interesting to see what they are like this winter.
So what was a quiet walk, had a surprise right at the end. With several of the commoner species to be still seen this year, there is the potential to get close or maybe even beat my year total of 85, which would be a good achievement considering I have not put the concerted effort in this year.