After the battering that Storm Imogen gave us yesterday, and the continuing rain this morning it was pleasant to see that the the skies cleared mid morning, and then the sun came out.
With the recent appalling weather I haven't been into the woods since the start of the year. It is at this time of year the Tawny Owls are starting to nest, as I mentioned on Sunday there has been a male calling close to the house for sometime now. The one consistent bird for the four years that I have been writing this blog has been a Tawny Owl that Helen and I found, courtesy of a Jay, in February 2012, since then probably the same bird has been present in the same tree from February to June, I suspect that it is a male,and that it had a mate and a nest close by, but I have never been able to confirm this.
It was with the hope of finding this Tawny Owl for its fifth year that I set out late afternoon to walk through the woods. As I turned into Brislands a flock of Long-tailed Tits called from the large conifer on the corner.
I decided to walk into the wood through the Gradwell entrance. The walk into the wood was very difficult as the ground was very muddy and in places flooded, and to make matters worse, two small dogs constantly barked at me from the paddocks, they were extremely aggressive rushing the fence, not sure if they would have been so brave had the fence not been there.
As I entered the wood the sun was dropping below the trees and casting a lovely golden glow across the tops of the larches and through the bracken.
I made my way to the area the owl would normally use, and checked the tree it has favoured for the last four years. The tree though seems to have lost a few large branches, and the area where the owl would normally sit has become a lot more open. As a result it wasn't there, and there was no sign of any droppings that would normally be about if the owl was using the tree to roost in.
I started to think where it would likely go should it still be with us. There are several high Spruce and Pine trees and I scanned through them to see if there was anything. Then for some reason I picked up on a strange colour, and a shape high in one of the Spruces. This is what I saw.
Zooming in I had found my owl.
I couldn't believe it! Finding it was like the proverbial needle in a haystack, I have no idea what attracted me to the shape, but I am glad something did. The colour and patterns on the wing look very much like Morris, and I was thrilled to find him once again. Five years and going strong, it was a really good find.
I tried very hard to see if I could get a better view, stumbling through the bracken and bramble. Every place I tried could not get a clearer view so in the end I had to be satisfied with the one I had managed to take. There is no doubt what it was, and I hope he and his mate have a successful breeding season.
My next quarry was to find the Roe Deer. I haven't seen one since November, I knew they were around as I had seen the footprints, and this evening was going to be one of the better chances I have had recently.
I headed to the main path, and stood around listening to the birds calling. Unfortunately all I could hear were Robins, Wrens and a few Blue and Great Tits. There was no sign of any birds high in the Larch trees, but I did find a small group of Goldfinches in the evening sunshine.
I made my way around the perimeter path, and looking out to the west, Helen and my favourite view looked splendid with the setting winter sun.
I came off the perimeter path, and headed to the West End of the wood. There is a group of very mature Beech trees close to the path, and under them wild Daffodils flower in the spring. The Daffodils were almost in flower, they seem to be about three weeks ahead of where they were last year, they usually flower in the second week of March. You can also see the advanced shoots of Bluebells as well.
As I approached the field on the edge of the wood a group of twelve Great Tits were calling and moving through the trees.
Dark clouds were gathering away to the north west, but I discounted the thought of rain. I turned back on to the perimeter path, then headed in towards the middle of the wood. As I did so two Roe Deer ran across the path in front of me, and then away out of sight.
I walked on a little further, stopping to watch and listen to a group of Goldcrests. Then a little further on some movement in the bracken revealed a group of four Roe Deer including one buck with antlers covered in velvet. At last I could get a picture.
Nice to see them after quite a long absence. They then decided to move away, running and jumping through the bramble.
I carried on, heading back to the perimeter path, and then along a slightly muddy path. Away to the west the sun was still up, but dropping fast through the clouds casting an orange glow in the sky. Away in the distance the bare trees on the top of a distant hill broke up the horizon.
Just before I left the wood the sun appeared below the clouds casting yet another duffernat landscape.
As I walked along Brislands towards home the rain did come, although it didn't seem it mount to much, it is as if a day can't go by with out the wet stuff.
My walk home was accompanied by a singing Song Thrush, and as I reached the end of Brislands I could see it in the gloom perched in a small bush.
The spark is back in Four Marks, spring seems a little closer. It was great to find the Tawny Owl, great that my hunch came off, and great that Morris has now been there for five years. I would love to find his young owlets this year.