I have been spending time away from the patch just recently, details can be found on the Away Blog here. The garden continues to entertain, with the male Bullfinch still showing regularly in the morning on the feeders, and the Siskins still coming too. This morning there were two males on their own, maybe the females are on a nest nearby?
This afternoon though with the clouds clearing, and it warming up I headed out along Brislands in the hope that I could find something to spark the interest once again.
Walking along past the recreation ground a Blackbird seemed to be upset about something, at this time of year it was probably a Jay or Magpie, they possibly have fledglings either in the nest or in the bushes begging for food.
The leaves on almost all the trees are now at their best, the Copper Beech and Oak contrasting so well with the deep blue of the sky.
I turned into Gradwell, and the field still has a small puddle of water and mud, and this seems to be enough to keep the attention of the Pied Wagtail. As it dipped into the muddy water it kept calling. I would guess it probably has a nest around the stables.
I crossed the field towards Old Down with the Swallows flying low across the field in front of me. Ahead the edge of the wood was looking splendid in the sunshine.
Around the brambles a pair of Green-veined Whites were up to no good.
At least double figures of Orange Tips past me as I walked the main path, but non of them stopped at all. Turning onto the footpath to Kitwood I was faced with probably one of the last Bluebell scenes of the year.
I searched the trees again for the owl, but here was no sign of it, but plenty of signs that it had been there. From there I made my way to the style, and then out across the field to the meadow. Unfortunately the cloud had now bilt up, and the sun was not out. I waited to see if when it did come out any butterflies would appear, but none did.
I waled on to the pond in the hope of maybe the first damselflies of the year, but again the cloud hiding the sun meant there was little chance of seeing or finding any.
I walked on towards the wood, and heard the alarm calls of a Blackbird. The Blackbird was then joined by a Great Tit and Chaffinch and above me appeared a Kestrel. A male, probably from the pair nesting close by.
Back in the wood I could hear the contact calls of Blue Tits as they foraged in the newly opened leaves of the Oak trees. They already look exhausted, and probably have many small mouths to provide a constant supply of caterpillars too.
I stood for awhile waiting for the sun to return, and also to listen to the bird song. A Long-tailed Tit was busy moving through the bramble, and in one of the larches a Song Thrush was singing away. In front of me Orange Tip and green-veined Whites flitted about at a distance, and then a flash of blue went past me which could only have been a Holly Blue butterfly. It didn't stop but kept going away from me. Then from the bracken I heard a Firecrest sing, and managed to see it as it appeared in front of me.
This is now my fifth singing bird this year, and the first in Old Down for three years.
It came really close and I just had to add to my collection of Firecrest pictures. I will do my own portfolio.
I left the Firecrest singing and walked to the crossroads where I headed west A Red Admiral flew up from the path in front of me, flew around and then settled nicely once again in front of me.
This was in fact the third one I had seen today, but the only one that stopped.
As I reached the diagonal path, I stopped again as I heard yet another Firecrest, two in the wood is quite impressive. This one continued to sing, but stayed high in the larch trees, They are getting quite common!
Orange Tips continued to fly past me as did several white butterflies. One did stop though, settling on a bramble leaf.
Finally I came across an Orange Tip male that decided to rest on a flower for me. They are just beautiful little butterflies.
I turned onto the perimeter path and started to look for signs of orchids. About now the Early Purple should be flowering. There was no sign of any in the usual spot, but I could just make out a patch of purple beneath the Dog Mercury, and moving the leaves out of the way I had my first Early Purple Orchid of the year here on the patch.
With the canopy being a lot more open I have noticed that the Ransom's and Dog Mercury have become very thick in places, and it would seem that they have swamped the good orchid sites.
Another flower that seems to be doing very well this year is the Archangel, its yellow flowers contrasting with the mix of the white Ransom's and Mouse-ear, and the remaining blue of the fading Bluebells.
My walk home saw very little else, but I can't really complain when you find two Firecrest, and good views of some lovely butterflies...can you?