Friday, 4 December 2015

4th December - Half The Time Has Passed Away

There was an object in the sky this morning, that I was told is called the sun, it came up in the east in a very unusual sky that was coloured blue.  I was able also to watch this event without the trees blowing back and forth.  After the continual overcast skies of the recent days all this was very welcome, and through the morning I watched Woodpigeon stream overhead flying in a westerly direction.  The garden wasn't that busy, mostly Goldfinches about on the feeders, a Red Kite drifted past my office window, and I was determined to get out and enjoy the weather at lunchtime.

I headed to the pond and parked up with the intent of walking through Old Down, before though I walked around the pond.  There were three pairs of Mallard at the back end of the pond, and over by the reeds and Iris bank a single male in the sunshine.



As I headed towards the wood in the field on my left there were Magpies and Crows feeding on the edge of the field.  Whatever is planted in the field has grown quickly in the mild weather.



As I walked into the wood I disturbed several Chaffinches feeding on the edge of the field close to the path, there were also four Bullfinches that as usual were very difficult to see, and when they did they were gone as almost as quickly as they appeared.

I had hoped that with the relatively still conditions I might find some birds in the larch and beech trees but it was very quiet.  As I walked the path I was very surprised to flush a Red Admiral that was sitting in the sunshine on the grass.  I watched as it flew off, hoping that it would settle but it just kept on flying.

Clouds were now building up, and any hope that a sunny spot might lure the Red Admiral back faded as the sun went in.  I walked to the crossroads where I found signs of catkins on the Hazel trees beginning to emerge, yet another sign of the very strange weather we have been having.



I turned left and headed for the West End, and it was still very quiet, as I reached the diagonal footpath a new sign had been erected to replace the old one that had been demolished during the forestry work over the last two years.



I could hear occasional calls from the low trees close to the edge of the wood, but nothing appeared.  I walked to the West End, and scanned across the field.  The sunshine was back, and was brightening up the green in the field, but in a way that only happens when the sun is as low in the sky as it is at this time of year.



I looked out over the Desmond Paddocks, Rook were feeding in the fields amongst the sheep, and over in the distance i could see a sizeable flock of what were probably Black-headed and Common Gulls.

I headed back into the wood, taking the trail through the trees.  As I reached a denser part of the wood Blue Tits started to call.



I stood and waited and listened, the Blue Tits were joined by a calling Nuthatch, a Robin, and then a quite smart Great Tit.



I came out onto the main path, and headed once again for the crossroads.  Wrens could be heard calling from the bracken and fallen trees, and then I came across this female Blackbird that was clearly upset about something but I could not see what it was.



Turning back towards the Old Down Cottage suddenly the trees were full bird calls.  The dominant one though was that of the Marsh Tit, and there were two birds and they showed very well.



I always look closely just in case they maybe something else, but I don't know why as the call is the main way to identify the Marsh Tit from a Willow Tit, and these two were calling just like Marsh Tits.



A little further on there were more calls, this time a large flock of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests.  Continually moving amongst the thin branches they were difficult to pin down.



As I walked out of the wood the Oak trees still held on to some of their leaves and the sun that was now back out was turning them into gold.



Out of the wood and looking along the edge of the field once again there was the scene that was a classic winter one.



I stood and waited once again as I could hear Bullfinches calling.  Once again they appeared and then disappeared.  Other small birds were about, Chaffinches and Greenfinches, and overhead I could hear the calls of Redwing.

I walked back to the pond with the sun still out, but I doubted whether it would be for much longer.  Away in the distant west the clouds were gathering, and looked quite dark.  At the pond I could only find three pairs of Mallard, the single male gone.  Two of the pairs were feeding in the sun.



It seems that today's weather window will be short lived, its back to overcast conditions and gales on Saturday, and then more rain and mild temperatures next week.  This makes it hard to find what wildlife there is about at the moment, and also is making the foootpaths very difficult to walk.

I hope that this weather will change, I am not sure I would want it to continue all winterlong.  We desperately need a spell of much colder weather to turn things back to normal, and hopefully bring in some more winter visitors.

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