After the cold and overcast day that was Saturday, it was rather a surprise to see clear blue skies on Sunday morning, despite the fact that they had been forecast. There was though that autumn chill still in the air, and early this morning I heard Tawny Owls calling, setting up their territories, yet another sign that we were now going into autumn.
We decided to head back into Old Down again this morning, and then out along the fields, I was hoping that the hedges may deliver to me some of the migrants that were passing through, and turning up elsewhere.
The walk along Brislands, and then down Gradwell was very uneventful, all I could recall was a single Robin singing on the corner of Brislands. As we came onto the field to cross to the wood a single poppy remained in the field.
The cries of a young Buzzard could be heard as we entered the wood, distant at first, then it was clear that the bird was heading towards us. We watched as it flew to the top of a conifer, and out of sight continued to call out.
There was plenty of dew about, and this seemed to have brought out the Dor beetles once again as there were several of them on the footpath.
A little further into the wood and there was a little patch of summer determined to hang on, a small Foxglove still in flower.
Speckled Wood butterflies seemed to be everywhere, flying up from the grass and the bramble bushes as we walked past. We headed towards the west end but stopped at the bramble to look and see if there were any other different butterflies about. I saw movement in the leaves and was amazed to find this large Dark Bush Cricket, it was moving through the leaves like a mouse or vole.
I eventually relented deciding to photograph a Speckled Wood that was perched on one of the dead Foxglove spikes along with a spider's web, and its owner.
As we walked on I could hear a weak tack call, which wasn't a Blackcap, but I wasn't sure what it was. At the end of the path past the Beech trees there is a large stand of Ash trees that is now quite open. High in the canopy I could see movement, and when it came into the clearing I could see that the owner of the call was a Spotted Flycatcher.
There were then two birds and they were busy flying out into the open, and then returning to a suitable perch. Then I realised that two birds were in fact three, and then four. Despite the fact that they had plenty of space and perches they would frequently chase each other away, flying quite a way to knock the other off its perch.
As we watched there were also two young Bullfinches, several Chiffchaffs and a few Willow Warblers in the area, but not the hoped for Redstart. As we walked along the path there seemed to be more Spotted Flycatchers, and I finally estimated the number to be at least six, but it could have been more.
At the West End entrance there was a Green-veined White which made a change from the constant presence of Speckled Woods.
We climbed the stile into the paddocks, and sitting by the fence again in the sunshine was this young rabbit.
In the spring there had been an amazing show of Blackthorn blossom, the hedgerows were turned white in a truly wonderful display. Now we are witnessing another display from this nondescript tree, a bumper collection of sloe berries, some really plump ones on the bushes, the berries out doing the blackberry that typically is about now.
A few swallows called above us as we walked up Andrews lane, but that was about all that was about, that is if you don't count Woodpigeons which I don't.
when we reached the top of the lane there were even more Speckled Woods on the bushes. Where the path meets the lane though, there were calls from Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, but as always it was difficult to get onto the birds in the leaf cover as they made their way through catching insects. I did manage to get this Chiffchaff.
Walking through Lye Way farm was very quiet the only item of note was the fact that the Horse Chestnut are starting to show the effects of the leaf minor moth once again. As the road bends around we disturbed a very pristine Small Tortoiseshell.
There were a couple of Yellowhammers on the wires as we walked down Lye Way towards Kitwood, the sum total of anything of note. In the fields the farmer seems to have tired of the ploughing, and left an interesting pattern on the ground.
Rather than take the road through Kitwood Farm this time we decided to walk down through Homestead Farm. At the stile at the top of the path there was a bit of activity in the trees, there were 3 young Bullfinch and a collection of warblers that I couldn't definitively identify. A Nuthatch called from the taller trees, and a Kestrel flew over with a very worn tail.
The hedges were quiet as were the fence posts as we walked from Homestead across the road and then up the hill towards Garthowen. A surprise though was a pair of Siskins that flew over calling, but they never stopped. As we crossed the field to the garden centre a pale blue butterfly flew through the field and then up to the hedge where it teased me by dropping over then coming back, finally settling on the leaves. At firs I thought it might have been a Chalkhill Blue, but a closer look revealed it to be a very pale Holly Blue.
The dark tips on the wings indicate that it is probably part of theyears second brood.
We picked up ice creams and headed down towards Blackberry Lane, and then on our way towards home. Coming along the lane that runs parallel with the main road this Red Admiral settled on the fence clearly enjoying the warmth from the wood and sun.
And a little further on there was an immaculate Small Tortoiseshell doing exactly the same.
To complete the butterfly collection as we came into Reads Field a female Common Blue was sitting on the side of a house. This is the latest Common Blue I have seen here, and she did look like she wasn't going to be around much longer poor thing.
As we walked home the House martins were filling the sky over the houses, some still with mouths to feed. It was a lovely day, a lift from the previous cold and clody days we had been having. It was disappointing not to have found any interesting migrants, but the Spotted Flycatchers were a bonus, six being my highest count, and the late blue butterflies a surprise. There is still time in September yet for further surprises.
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