It was misty and overcast in the morning, and quite cold. We spent the day up in Oxford, but when we got back there was some time and the sun was out and it felt quite warm. I walked down Brislands with plenty of Lesser Celandines in flower on the verge, and as I was admiring them a butterfly flew past, I watched it as it flew away from me and could see it was a Small Tortoiseshell, spring doesn't seem to far away now.
As well as the butterfly further evidence was send with a Greenfinch in display flight around the hawthorn bushes. I turned into Gradwell, and then across the field into Old Down. A Song Thrush sang away in the distance and as I walked into the wood there were several Robins singing. The Larches were beginning to leaf, and in he late sunshine the footpath was lit up.
A little further on a Coal Tit was in full song from the top of a Beech Tree, the lack of leaves making it easy to find.
I walked to the crossroads where there were several large puddles, and every single one was full of frog spawn, I don't think I have ever seen so much in the wood before.
I walked around towards Old Down cottage, and stopped to check the large pool on the footpath. This has always been a pool that has quite a bit of spawn, and today it was like every other pool of water, full.
Some of the pools were quite small and must run the risk of drying out, especially over the next few weeks as the forecast is for it to remain dry.
As I made my way back to the main path a Nuthatch called above me as it foraged amongst the lichen on the branches.
I made my way towards the exit, and by the perimeter path the Bluebell shoots looked to be very well developed, if it warms up we may have flowers for Easter.
At the pond a Buzzard was annoying the smaller birds, and alarm calls rang out. A small bird flew from the top of a tree, and then mouse like crawled around the branches. It was difficult to pick out and I only managed a record shot of my first treecreeper of the year.
I was hoping to find toad spawn in the pond after seeing all the frog spawn, but there was no sign at all. There was some frog spawn, and a few frogs splashing in the shallow water.
The Mallard pair were standing in the shallow water, enjoying the evening sunshine.
I walked down the lane towards Kitwood. The light was now wonderful, all golden and soft, and it lit up a Goldfinch at the top of the trees.
There were three Goldfinch in the tree, plus a male Greenfinch and a Collared Dove that was being pursued by another along the branch.
Leaving the birds in the tree I headed back along the lane when a Great Tit sat on one of the branches from the hedge again in the wonderful light.
I headed down towards the school, the hedgerow being turned golden by the low sunshine. The familiar piping call of a Bullfinch alerted me to movement in the hedge. There were two females and a single male, that managed to keep partially hidden.
As I waited for the Bullfinches to appear I noticed movement in a tree, at first I thought it was a Treecreeper then a familiar pose revealed it to be another Nuthatch.
I headed down to hill, and noticed shapes in the field. A closer look revealled the shapes to be Red-legged Partridges. I counted nine together, but with another pair closer to the road there were eleven.
Along Gradwell the field was full of about 30 Redwing, however they seem to know exactly when I am looking to take a photograph because they upped and flew away. One or two though remained in the sunshine.
The calls of Jackdaws came from the chimney pots on the cottages, and several birds seemed to be arguing over the pots for nest sites, or maybe just to find a warm place to roost tonight. This one was inside the pot and peered out at me.
The sun was now almost set, and I made my way back home, as I passed the recreation ground a pair of Mistle Thrushes flew over calling.
The first butterfly of the year and two year ticks made it a worthwhile walk this afternoon. Slowly the new season is coming, and with it the hope and anticipation of something special.