At about 6.15 this morning a male Tawny Owl was calling from the trees at the bottom of Reads Field. It was very vocal for about 20 minutes, but as it got lighter it stopped.
The garden over the last few weeks has been extremely busy with Goldfinches and Greenfinches, but there has also been a sadder side, there have been two dead Goldfinches, and two Greenfinches.
There are no signs of any trauma so it is not clear how they have died. However today a juvenile Goldfinch was easily approached and it didn't look very well , and I wonder if they have contracted Trichomonosis which causes lesions in the throat of the infected bird. This makes it progressively harder for the bird to swallow its food. In addition they may also show signs of general illness such as lethargy and fluffed-up plumage, affected birds may regurgitate food. As a result I have cleaned and disinfected the feeders and bird baths in an effort to counter the possible disease, and will stop feeding them for a while, this will mean any infected birds will not infect others.
We decided to go out this morning for a walk, but first went to explore the trees at the bottom of Reads Field in the hope of finding the early morning caller. Unfortunately despite some extensive searching there was nothing showing, not even any white washing that normally gives away a location. The oak, ash and sycamore trees are quite dense, and also have a good covering of ivy so we suspected it must be hidden somewhere within the leaves and well out of sight.
leaving the trees we headed out along Brislands in what were humid conditions, and it was a lot warmer than Saturday.
Once again there were plenty of Robins singing, and also quite a few in the bushes, which may signal the arrival of birds from the continent, here for the winter of just passing through.
As well as the Robins there were several Yellowhammers in the bushes.
As we crossed the field towards the wood the grass coming through the stubble weaved interesting patterns in the field.
Entering the wood we came across several Speckled Woods, again they appeared to be everywhere, including in amongst the larch branches.
We walked through the wood on the main path, with Speckled Woods all around us. As we passed the crossroads we came we stopped at the bramble as a small orange butterfly flew up from the bramble and then headed up into the canopy. I watched it for as long as I could but in the end it evaded me. The flight was very similar to that of a hairstreak, and the only possible species could be Brown Hairstreak, but I was not able to get a good enough view.
We waited to see if it would return, and as we did I noticed some movement of birds in the trees. I managed to see two Spotted Flycatchers high up in a Scots Pine, but then watched as they flew off, they returned but only briefly and were high in the trees. A party of Long-tailed Tits moved through the top of the trees.
Then several Chiffchaffs also appeared calling as they moved through the top of the trees.
All the small birds were then joined by a Great Spotted Woodpecker that signaled its arrival with a call, and then appeared at the top of a tree, which I could just see through the branches of the the one in front.
It was clear the butterfly was not coming back, nor the flycatchers so we continued our walk to the west end, and then out into the field where two Small Whites were moving around the small brassicas growing.
We walked down through the paddocks and then up Andrew Lane. The only birds about were the ubiquitous Woodpigeons and up to eight Magpies. At thew top of the hill in the sunshine it felt quite hot, so as we walked down through the footpath to head back to Swellinghill we were grateful to the shade and slight breeze.
Once again there were plenty of Speckled Wood about on the edge of the field coming out of the hedgerow, and also two Red Admiral, one posing very nicely for me.
But that was the highlight as we crossed the field, and at the pond there was no sign of any dragonflies. We walked down to Kitwood and on a large clump of Ivy that was coming into flower there were more Red Admirals, several bees and a single Painted Lady.
It has been a good year for Painted Ladies around the patch, with at least five individuals being seen.
That was the end of anything of interest, and so we headed home where I got the disinfectant and washing up liquid out to clean all the feeders and bird baths.