Christmas Day was very wet, with high winds once again, but as usual very mild with temperatures more suited to March and April. Boxing Day dawned dry but overcast, and the strong winds were still there. After a late breakfast and a lot of goodbyes after a lovely family Christmas Helen and I decided to get some air, and exercise.
There was definitely plenty of air about as we walked down Brislands, with the wind blowing the trees strongly above us. As we approached the Gradwell turn I commented on that there might be Celandines out soon, and just as I finished saying it I noticed a yellow flower on the bank, a Lesser Celandine in flower!
This spot is always the first place these little flowers emerge, but I have never seen them as early as this. Usually they would be in flower early March, not at the end of December. I am not sure if these can be recorded as early 2016 flowers, or that they are the latest 2015 record. It is truly becoming a mad world.
We walked on and down the hill towards Gilbert Street. We flushed three Red-legged Partridges from the side of the road, and watched them fly into the field. As we reached the barns a Raven flew across the lane, briefly landed on the roof, then flew away from us.
It flew around, then headed out into the middle of the field where it then settled on the ground, but was not happy continually flying up as if being annoyed by something.
The wind was very strong and the noise created as it blew through the trees and hedge made it difficult to hear anything else. I did though think that I heard a Grey Wagtail around the barns, but I couldn't locate it.
We walked to the bottom of Brislands and then turned back up the hill. Across the fields away towards the road we could hear the trains on the Watercress Line, then a tower of white steam revealed one of the locomotives as it headed towards us and on its way to Alton. A busy time for the Watercress Line at this time of year.
I kept checking the fields where three Common Gulls drifted over in the distance. Then a Buzzard dropped into the middle of the field where it seemed to be interested in something, probably an earthworm.
We walked to the junction where I could hear Bullfinches but I couldn't see them. As we turned up the hill a large flock of Gulls appeared overhead. I had hoped the stormy weather might have brought them in, but this was a disappointing return, about twenty birds all Black-headed Gulls, drifting over, and none in the fields.
Swelling Hill is the place to find the earliest Snowdrops of the year, and it did not disappoint, as we came across several clumps in flower. Again are these early 2016 flowers? Well they will be on January the first.
As well as the Snowdrops there were also some primroses in flower too.
We walked on, and the top of the hill there was a large flock of Goldfinches and Chaffinches calling from within the hedges near Old Down Cottage. It was now very gloomy once again, but I was able to pick out a male Chaffinch.
As we walked past the pond at first I thought there was only the one male Mallard I had seen a few days before Christmas. But slowly two more males appeared from the reeds, and then I could see that there were two females with the original male duck.
More flowers in the grass at the pond, this time Daisies all in flower, this crazy weather is truly playing havoc with the natural order.
From there we made our way home, there had been a brief moment when the skies cleared a little to reveal some feint blue sky, but as we walked along Gradwell it became quite dark once again. The forecast for the week ahead is mixed, but with no sign of any real seasonal weather. As I said early its a mad world right now.