Friday, 16 October 2015

16th October - I Walk Among The Leaves of Days Yet to Pass

I have been away for three days of the week in Germany where it was wet and very cold, but I understand that here it was dry overcast but with a cold north easterly wind.  This morning it was still overcast and gloomy as the first birds arrived in the garden to use the feeders.

I first noticed a few Long-tailed Tits arriving and heading for the sunflower seeds, but as I watched they just continued to appear as if from nowhere.  I counted at least a dozen of these little balls of feathers, the highest count this autumn so far in the garden.

As well as the Long-tailed Tits there was also several Blue Tits, and singles of Great and Coal Tit, the latter adopting its smash and grab technique on the feeders. 

A single Chiffchaff was also tagging along with the tits, it explored the leaves that remained on the trees, pecking at their underside, and hovering around the branches.  

I could also hear it calling to its friends the Long-tailed Tits who it would appear it was hanging out with.

A Greenfinch on the lawn looked a little unusual, and was a cause for concern, I will now have to give the feeders and baths a good clean.

A robin then appeared again making its way through the branches and then dropping down onto the feeders.

At lunchtime I decided to head up to the pond with the intention of then walking around Old Down.  With the numbers of Goldfinches about and the reports of Siskin I wondered if there might be the chance of some finches in the larches, plus there was also the chance of some fungi.

As I pulled up at the pond I noticed two Moorhen doing what they always do when I appear heading for cover.  As they did so a splash to my left saw another explode into the reed bed, three is a good count for this time of year, it looks like this year's young birds have hung around.

In the far corner there were six Mallard, two females and four males.  It may be that the numbers increase in the late afternoon, but so far it seems that the high count of last year is still safe.

As I left the pond and walked towards the wood alarm calls could be heard, a shape then flew into the trees above me, and then out again and I could see it was a Sparrowhawk, and it was carrying something, probably one of the Blue Tits I had just heard calling from the hedge.

As I walked into the wood there was quite a commotion going on.  There seemed to be many Wrens calling, and at first I thought they might have found something that they were not happy with.  

As I watched a Squirrel dropped out of a tree, and I thought maybe that was the problem, but the calls and posturing continued. 

I walked into the bracken to get a closer look, and could see at least three Wrens behaving in an agitated way.  I now thought it could only be a territorial issue, then another squirrel appeared, was it the squirrels after all.

I continued to watch and the Wrens continued to call. 

In the end I decided that it must be territorial, and after awhile the calls subsided, and the Wrens disappeared into the bracken.

I made my way back to the main path and headed to the crossroads.  Around the bramble bushes there were quite a few Hornets, and I watched them in the hope that they would settle but this never happened.  They seemed to be present where there was bramble and dead wood, could the wood be the attraction for the Hornets?  They seemed to be everywhere at the moment.

Above me I could hear Goldfinches, and looking up a flock of about a hundred passed over my head.  There were also still some settled in the tops of the trees.

I stopped to look over the field towards Swellinghill.  The colours in the trees were now starting to look spectacular.

As I made my way to the West End all I could hear were the calls of Goldcrests, getting them to stay still long enough for a photograph was almost impossible.  They seemed to prefer the denser cover of the trees still with leaves.

At the West End a train from the Watercress Line steamed along with the trees alongside the line looking splendid in their autumn colours.

I then followed the north perimeter path in the hope of finding some fungi.  There was though nothing about.  Chiffchaffs could be heard calling amongst the tit flocks, but I was also never able to see them.

Back on the main path I watched as golden orange birch leaves fell from the trees, and it made me think that only a few weeks ago these rides were full of butterflies doing exactly the same thing. I made my way around to the south perimeter path and I finally found a new fungus, the fruiting body of a Birch Polypore just emerged on the trunk of a dead Silver Birch.

Coming out onto the main path I looked back, and the favourite Beech tree as it does every year was showing some lovely colour amongst the greens of the Oak.

From the wood I made my way back to the pond and as I approached the bushes there were Blackbirds and Long-tailed Tits calling.  I walked around the back of the pond to try and find the flock, but only managed to disturb them, and watched them fly away.  Coming to the pond at a different angle I could see the reflection of the trees in the water.

The Mallard had moved to the side close to the road, and were feeding in the lily pads.

September and October are the prime months for autumn migration, but around Four Marks it is September that seems to be the peak month, once we reach October it is as if the winter is upon us for the birds.  However this year I have still not seen or heard either Redwing or Fieldfare yet, despite there being plenty of berries on the Holly Bushes.

Incidently when I was in Sweden two weeks ago I was a little dismayed to see plenty of berries there meaning the chances of a good Waxwing year are not good.

There is still chance for the month to pick up, and there are birds that I did not see at the start of the year that can still turn up as we head into the second winter of 2015.

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