Friday, 18 March 2016

17th March - Into The Light Of The Dark Black Night

It has been a strange week for me, ill on Monday while the sun shone all day in a clear blue sky, travel to Munich and experience 5 inches of snow which was gone the following day and replaced by clear skies and warm sunshine.  When I finally got home this evening the sun was still out and there would be enough daylight for an even walk, so Helen and I set off along Lymington Bottom.

For once we continued on past the Brislands turn, and a little further on were rewarded with views of a male Kestrel obviously intently watch the rough grass below him, the sun bringing out the richness in the ruddy brown feathers of his back.


I tried to get a better view, but as I did so he turned away from me, and all I could see was his back as he looked down at the ground, then finally he turned to just keep an eye on me.  What a gorgeous bird!


We carried on to the bottom of the road, and at the school decided to take Hawthorn Road, and then come around by Kitwood.  There were several Redwing feeding on the school playing fields, but as always seems to be the way they sensed immediately my presence and I was left with this familiar view.


There was though a Song Thrush stalking a meal in the grass close by, and it was much more accommodating.


The fields on either side of us were full of Woodpigeons, but occasionally there would be a Fieldfare and Redwing fly over and disappear into the trees.  

The trees on the edge of the plantation where the turn into Kitwood Lane takes place have been thinned out considerably, and the area is quite open.  However there has not been any work further on, and the dense scrub of the hawthorns and hazel remain.

At the edge of the plantation the hazels lining the footpath leading down the hill were a glow from the evening sunshine.


The setting sun was constantly changing the scene and as we approached Kitwood farm the lane was lit up like gold as the sun filtered through the trees.


As we passed through the farm a gas gun went off, and away across the trees a huge flock of Woodpigeon suddenly appeared in the sky and headed our way.


We were walking into the sun, and everywhere you looked it was highlighting the scene.  In this case the power lines appear to be lit up like a string of Christmas lights and the light picks out the edge of the cable.


We walked on to the pond, where I had a quick look to see if there was yet any sign of the toads spawning.  All I could find though was the frog spawn I had seen last Sunday.  The only visible occupants of the pond though were the pair of Mallard that had drifted into the centre when we arrived. 

From the pond we decided to go through the wood, and then head back home along Brislands.  As we walked through the wood there were several Robins singing and a distant Song Thrush.  

As I feared with there not being any rain through the week many of the puddles and muddy patches were now drying out, this meant that the frog spawn that had been laid in them were also drying up.


The woods were still quite cold and lifeless still, with no sign of any leaf development.  Celandines could be seen, and also the shoots of the Bluebells, but it still felt as if the wood was in the grip of winter.

The most dominant feature though was the setting sun, a vast red ball low in the sky.  As we made our way through the wood the scene changes from the sun burning through the dark, cold and grey trees.


As we came out into the open, the sun could be seen across the fields, partially lighting the sky above it but dominating the view itself.


A little further and we came out of the woods and the sun was still the centre of attraction as it made its way down beyond Ropley and Winchester.


And as it sank in the sky the ball became a deeper red.


With the setting sun on our backs we headed down Brislands.  Closer to the houses you could hear the songs of birds as they took one last chance to announce their territories, or to celebrate the fact that they now had a nest. 

The Redwing were also busy, flying around looking for roost sites for the night.  One flew in and gave an unmistakeable pose at the top of one of the Beech trees.


As approached home a Blackbird was singing high at the top of a leylandii.


Helen remarked that the sound of the birds singing late into the evening in early spring is something that makes you feel really good, a sign that maybe spring is here.  We headed home with the Blackbird behind settling in to sing into the dead of night.

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