Today was a beautiful day, clear blue skies, and a blue that was not a washed out humid sky, but a dry and stunningly vibrant azure blue. I set off down Brislands to dry and follow as many of the hedgerows as I could, there is always the chance that something may have dropped in at this time of year.
Early this morning the Robins in the garden had been singing, and as I walked towards the cemetery, a pair of Robins were in dispute about the hedge they were both in. One finally being chased off.
With the sun now dropping in the sky the light was casting shadows on the moss covered boughs of the oak tree.
Checking the horse field on the other side of the lane, a Buzzard sat in the Hawthorn bush, probably dozing in the warmth of the sun.
I turned along Gradwell, and then up onto the footpath towards Old Down. The field had been harvested, and was full of stubble, but there were still daisies close to the path. Not sure why I looked but I picked up a small butterfly on one of the daisies, and was delighted to find that at last I had found the year's first Small Copper. It is getting late in their season, and this one does look a little worse for wear, but it is still a Small Copper, at last!
There was nothing moving as I crossed the field, and walking into the wood I was greeted with an unsettling silence. I waled down the main path, and across the crossroads. Just like with the oak trees the light filtering through the beech leaves was creating little silvery patches amongst the darkness of the beech trees.
I headed west, and stopped to listen to a calling Chiffchaff, waiting for it to appear amongst the leaves.
As I walked I thought how quiet it was with no butterflies about at all, but then it was late in the afternoon. As if to prove me wrong a Meadow Brown flew past me and rested on the bramble leaves.
Again a rather worn individual, it must be getting close to the end of their season.
As I approached the West End I passed many seed heads of the Hogweed. In places the sun picked out the heads lighting them up against the dark background of the trees.
Just before I left the wood another butterfly, this time a Speckled Wood.
I walked down through the Desmond Paddocks, scattering the Rooks and Jackdaws in the field. Over the style and into the next field their were Rabbits sitting out in the long grass, the only evidence that they were there was there ears pricking up as I approached.
From the paddocks I walked up Andrew Lane, again in the hope of finding something interesting. First I passed Swallows over the paddocks, then House Martins still feeding young at the last house. My hoped for migrant did not materialise, and I came out into the sun at the top of the path, and walked alongside the sheep pen towards Lyeway.
Past the farm buildings a Wren called from within the bracken. I waited to see if it would appear, and eventually it put in a brief obscured appearance.
The fields had all been drilled and there was nothing in them, the only birds about were a a male Yellowhammer on the wires above me.
The walk from here to home produced a small trickle of Swallows passing through overhead, but very little else. As I walked into Reads Field a Collared Dove called and drifted overhead amongst the many House Martins in the sky.
The starlings are beginning to gather in flocks before dusk, the young birds now showing the spotted winter plumage.
I came into the garden, and was just about to put everything away when I noticed a large butterfly on the buddleia. There have been many bumble bees, and one of two Large and Small Whites coming to the flowers, but this evening I struck lucky, a superb Painted Lady in wonderful light.
It was in pristine condition, and was probably an adult appearing from breeding by the early arrivals in the spring.
A wonderful opportunity to get close and see the beautifully detailed under wing patterns.
The light was really wonderful, highlighting the orangy pink of the upper wing.
Against a lovely orange background that is actually a brick wall.
And then against the beautiful blue sky that had been with us all day.
So the walk was bookended by two butterflies, one perhaps not in the best of condition, but being special because it was the first of the year after some considerable searching, and the other for its beauty.
As a postscript, on Saturday morning a Willow Warbler was singing a form of sub song from the trees in the garden.