Sunday, 20 March 2016

20th March - And If You Threw a Party

Well the sunshine of mid week didn't last, it became cloudy and overcast on Friday and this has persisted into the weekend, the upbeat bit though is that it has stayed relatively dry, there was some early morning drizzle yesterday and today.

The weather is following the pattern establish for the last four years, mild and wet winters, then once spring is on the horizon the weather turns cold and dry blocking any possibility of spring becoming established, despite the fact that the media have been making money out of early flowers and insects.

There was a report of a Mute Swan from a reliable source being seen on Saturday morning flying across the Shrave just past Telegraph Lane

It was the opportunity for my first lengthy walk of the year, and I headed along Brislands where a Goldcrest was singing in the holly tree, and a Wren blasted out its song for the power line above the road.



In the first field a Green Woodpecker was feeding amongst the grass but flew as I tried to get a photo.  In the next a Jay was searching through the grass and plastic bags.



I am not sure where the bags have come form, but the whole field is full of them, this though does not seem to distract the Redwing, and once again there was a large flock feeding here.  As I peered through the bushes they flew across to the far side of the field, into the hedge and up into the trees.



As I watched they continued to stream from the field, this was the most I had seen here this year, and estimated there to be at least 200.  They seem to just appear from nowhere, and you could hear their calls everywhere.



From Gradwell, I crossed into Old Down Wood.  The field was being prepared and then drilled with seed and there was a following of gulls behind the tractor.  As I watched an adult Mediterranean Gull appeared, all white and with a shocking black hood, then it dropped down.  I waited but it never re-appeared, there were Black-headed and Common Gulls but they too seemed to hide behind the slope.  This was a good find, and re-energised me as I walked into the wood.

I checked for the owl, but with no luck, but in the tree where it should have been I was entertained by a Goldcrest, singing and at the same time searching for insects in the spruce leaves.



With Siskins still coming to the garden I hoped that maybe there would be some interesting flocks in the larch trees, but I couldn't find anything.  I made my way around to the perimeter, and then down towards the West End of the wood.  Here the Bluebells are very well developed, and I actually found the first Bluebell flowers of the season.



I was also pleased to see the row of Daffodils beneath the big Beech tree.



The path winds through the Hazel trees and the green shoots of more Bluebells.  There were several half opened petals, but this little clump was the most developed.



From the wood I headed down through the paddocks, and by the edge of the field in the shelter and safety of the hedge the Rabbits fed on the grass.



From the paddocks I walked up Andrews Lane.  After scanning the fields and finding nothing I walked on with a Buzzard calling above me as it circled above the trees disturbing the Woodpigeon.



As I walked up the lane several Song Thrush would burst from the hedgerow with that short whistle of alarm.  One perched up in the Oak tree and watched me as I headed up the hill.



Once past the cottage the path has been flattened out making it a little easier to navigate, but once you reach the top the gully returns.

The field was empty, I had hoped for lambs but there was no sign of any sheep at all.  In the small copse another Goldcrest sang from the apple trees while foraging the lichen.  I walked from there to Lye Way Lane, a pair of Bullfinch piped away from the bushes, and I saw the male fly off.  The female though continued to tear apart the leaf shoots of the Hawthorn, but did so from the middle of the bush making it very difficult to see her, let alone photograph her.



As I scanned across the field I could hear Skylarks singing, and managed to find one that was relatively close.  Its always uplifting to hear the song of the Skylark, even if it is a grey overcast day.



At first the fields looked empty, but as I walked to the far end I could see movement on the grass, and it turned out there were many Fieldfare feeding on the close cropped field, and perched in the hedge alongside the field.



As I watched the Fieldfare feeding with Starlings a large gull drifted over, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, it was nice to get some acceptable pictures of what is a regular visitor to the fields around here at this time of year.



The upper parts a slaty grey, and not the dark grey of the larger Great Black-backed Gull, as it flew over i could also see the yellow legs.



This was a adult bird, and was joined by another, and strangely a Herring Gull, that then drifted off while the Lessers seemed to like the barns and flew around them dropping onto the roof and out of sight.

The Fieldfare continued to feed on the grass with the Starlings.



Again it was a large flock, again something that is regular in the fields here at this time of year.  I estimated there to be about 150.

I walked back to Lye Way road, and through the farm.  A Buzzard sat in one of the trees at the edge of the field, and was later seen flying low over the thrushes and scattering them everywhere.



Yet another Goldcrest sang from a Holly hedge alongside the road, and while it never really appeared from within the hedge it did show in some of the gaps.



Such a tiny little gem.



As I passed the farm barns I could see the two Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the roof.



I could still see the Fieldfare, and now there were two Buzzards in the close vicinity.  A familiar "gronk" behind me signaled the arrival of a Raven and it flew away from low across the field.



At the far side of the field a huge ball of birds grouped together appeared above the trees and at first I though I was lucky to find Golden Plover, but then I could see that they were grey, definitely not plover, and definitely the most numerous bird in the area, the Woodpigeon.



I scanned to see what had spooked them, but there was nothing obvious.  I watched as they settled down and dropped into the tops of the surrounding trees.

Heading down Lye Way I continued to scan the fields, it seems that these have been left for fallow this year, and were full of weed which hopefully would flower and leave seeds, but I know not to get too excited about this idea.

A Kestrel was using the over head wires as a perch, looking down into the field.  From the markings it looks like this is the bird I saw on Thursday evening.



I walked down Kitwood road with the field being seeded on my left hand side.  The tractors were still working but at the far side of the field and out of sight.  On the field there was a large flock of Rooks and Woodpigeon picking there way through the soil.  Closer in were a few Meadow Pipits and a pair of Mistle Thrushes.



At the bottom of the road, I turned up Gradwell, and then down Brislands.  The fields now were empty, and there was little else of interest as I made my way home.  The walk had been a case of "Gold and Gulls", so no apologies for the title of this post!!!

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