Sunday saw a brighter morning with breaks in the cloud allowing the sun to shine through, it was still quite warm, and I took the chance to get out for the first time for a while. However before I got out of the house I stopped to watch a female Siskin on the feeder. The male has been around all week, but this was the first time I had seen a female.
As I came outside to put my boots on the male Blackbird turned up, perching on the fence, watching me, the feathers as always fluffed up.
I headed along Brislands and there was quite a bit of activity with birds flying across the lane ahead of me. A Song Thrush sang from the tops of a conifer, and I could also hear the calls of Blue Tits and Goldcrests as they moved through the canopy hidden by the fully grown thick lush green leaves in the oaks.
I turned down Gradwell, and then across towards Old Down Wood. In the paddocks a pair of Crows were walking through the buttercups.
Crossing into Old Down Wood I had to avoid the spray of a tractor moving through the field of rye.
Every so often the sun would break through, and I wasn't surprised that the first butterfly I saw was a Speckled Wood. They always seem to be the first to wake up in the morning, their brown colour making it easier and quicker for them to warm up.
Another brown butterfly came up out of the grass as I walked through the wood. This was the first Meadow Brown of the year here on the patch. I followed it around, waiting for it to settle, which finally it did, and it partially opened its wings to show the spot on the upper wing.
I turned off the main path and headed towards the Kitwood entrance, the path was sunlit, and several more Speckled Wood could be seen duelling. One settled on a leaf and I got down low to get a different view of the this butterfly.
Everything sounded busy, contact calls from the trees above and Wrens busy in the bramble, but every so often taking the time out to rattle off a few bars of song from within the dark of the bramble bushes.
All along the side of the path was an avenue of foxgloves, the purple spikes lining the side of the path.
I turned on to the perimeter path, and was immediately taken by the density of the bramble that has suddenly overtaken all of the ground. The opening up of the canopy has really given life to this plant, which now seems to be choking everything else that was beneath it.
As I photographed the bramble I noticed I was being watched. A female Roe Deer was quite close, but as I slowly lifted the camera she decided to turn around and disappear into the bushes.
Calls above me turned out to be the first young Marsh Tits I have seen in the wood. I guessed that they did breed here, but this was now confirmation.
This is Nemophora Degeerella, the commonest type of Longhorn moth in the UK, they are called longhorns because the males of this species of moth have the longest antennae of all British moths. Those of the female are much shorter. They are quite beautifully patterned with bronze and gold markings
In May and June, the males can often be seen in groups, drifting up and down in the sunshine. Their habitat is damp deciduous woodlands and hedgerows and is quite common over much of England and Wales.
I walked on to the West End, where the footpath has still not be returned. In fatc people have been walking on the part further away from the side of the field, avoiding the deep ruts produced from the deep ploughing.
Looking out across the field towards the Watercress Line there was a swathe of redaround the outside of the field and up to the railway line.
On the south side of the A31 going through Ropley, the field is completely covered in blood red poppies, and amazing sight.
I turned back and walked along the main path. I could hear young Buzzards calling from the centre of the wood, I decided not to try and find them, their mewing calls for now sufficient confirmation that once again the Buzzard has raised chicks in the wood.
As I walked up the path I disturbed many Meadow Browns, I counted 62 in total, and they could be seen sharing buttercups, and almost all of them would sit with their wings open.
The first of the year so I am allowed two photographs, but it won't be long until they take on the reputation as the butterfly Woodpigeon
A calling warbler in a Hazel tree, surprisingly turned out to be a Willow Warbler. While I watched it a single Chiffchaff was calling a little further into the wood.
The only butterflies I saw all day were the two browns, and as I walked out of the wood I disturbed a few more Meadow Browns. At the entrance to the wood a Goldcrest was very vocal, calling and singing, she had young in the tree along with Blue Tits, so was probably keen to make sure they didn't get mixed up.
I left the wood and headed to the pond, as I approached I could see a young Moorhen on the water eating amongst the lily pads. I edged closer, knowing that these birds are easily disturbed.
I finally got too clsoe and it turned and moved into the Iris bed.
As I came around the path into the pond I noticed a small bird on the lily pads. It turned out to be a male Chaffinch, and it was catching insects on the lily pads, hovering at times to catch something.
As I watched the Chaffinch, a Wren appeared on the tree trunk in front of me carrying food for young somewhere in the bushes.
A little further around the pond a Robin was sitting on the bench, just after this it too was flitting across the lily pads chasing insects.
One or two damselfies were on the Iris. This is a male Azure Damselfly.
From the pond I went to look and see if I could find the Violet Helleborines. They normally start to emerge in June, flowering in early August. I found two that had just emerged, the shoots having a purple violet colour, that would probably give them their name. When they flower in August they are more or less green.
I took the footpath from Kitwood that goes through Homestead farm, as it came out into the fields I could hear the calls of small birds once again. This time they belonged to Great Tits, but were difficult to see and photograph, the adult being very busy moving through the bush.
The fields were full of high grass and a few buttercups, and if left would be good for butterflies later in the month, but I have a horrible feeling the gras will be cut for hay very soon.
I walked down to Hawthorn Lane, and crossed and started up the footpath. The filed was full of Starlings with several young birds on the fence begging to the parents for food.
Seeing the parent feed this young bird, one of its siblings decided to join it on the post, the two nibbling away at each other.
Then two became three as another joined the two birds. They sat waiting for the adult to return.
As I walked up the path there were young Starlings and House Sparrows begging for food from their parents, every so often small groups of Starlings would fly out across the field and circle around before settling back in the bushes.
In the field before the garden centre a Swallow was sitting on the wires above the field once again.
I walked through the garden centre car park, and then took the footpath to Blackberry Lane. As I left the road and onto the footpath I heard a Wren calling, and stopped to see an adult bird with three juvenile birds close by. One bird was sitting on a Bramble branch, and I waited with the camera to see if the adult would feed it. But as I stood there with the camera up a dog walker pushed past me and disturbed all of the Wrens, so all I manged to get was this picture of the young bird waiting to be fed.
The clouds were now getting quite thick, and the sunshine had gone, probably for good. I made my way home along the footpath and then down through Reads Field.
Over night I had put the moth trap out, on the thinking that in the middle of June there would be a good chance of something good. This morning though all I found were several Buff Ermine, four Sebaceous Hebrew Characters, a single Diamond Back Moth that flew off as I tried to photograph it. The one interesting moth was the first Buff Tip of the year, and I took it from the trap and placed it on the dead wood I have at the bottom of the garden. When I came back I decided to see if it was still there, and it was using the incredible camouflage to protect it. It looks like a piece of bark or twig lying amongst the old wood.
Good to get out, with quite a bit of interest to see. By mid afternoon the rain had moved in. The forecast for the week is not great, but with the chance it will warm up and possibly dry out by the end of the week.