Saturday, 29 October 2016

29th October - Handsome Smile, Wearing Handsome Shoes

We have been away all week, on the south coast in Dorset, details of where we went and what we saw can be found here on the "Away" blog.  The weather was very kind to us, with only one day of rain, and plenty of sunshine.  However returning yesterday at first it was quite cloudy, but slowly the sun did come out, and as a result we were treated to three Red Admirals nectaring on the new buddleia flowers in the garden.



Today though the overcast conditions came with a very light drizzle, probably more of a low mist.  There was hardly any wind, everything being completely still.  The bird feeders have now been down for over a month, and I decided to put them back out, yesterday evening, this morning they were quickly found by the Goldfinches.



There was also a Nuthatch about, although the Robin seemed to feel the feeders were only for him, and it proceeded to chase off anything that came close to them.

We set off for a walk with Louise and Boycie, and as we came around Lymington Rise she mentioned that there might be a cat having taken a bird in one of the gardens.  We walked on to see if we could get a better look, and I just caught sight of movement by the fence.  It definitely wasn't a cat, and as the four of us approached it turned and I could see it was a Sparrowhawk, and was mantling a Woodpigeon.  We were now too close, and it wasn't going to stay around and it immediately flew off with the pigeon before I realised what was going on.

This is the second time I have caught a female Sparrowhawk with a catch, hopefully it will be third time lucky.

We walked on and turned up Brislands, past Gradwell and towards Old Down.  The trees are now in full colour, they have changed a lot earlier this year.  Along the verge the Rosebay Willowherb has gone to seed with the smoke grey seeds contrasting with the golden leaves.



The woods were silent but for the melancholic song of the Robin.  The Beech trees are a lovely golden yellow, and it was a pity there wasn't the warm autumn sunshine to enhance their colour.



I left the Helen, Louise and Boycie to carry on, and took the perimeter path, hopefully to find some fungi, but it would seem this year that they are very much in short supply.  It has been very dry, and the fungi need moist conditions to allow the spores to germinate, we just haven't had these conditions yet.

Looking out from the wood the train on the Watercress Line whistled as it came out of the cover of the trees.



The field has been drilled and there were several flocks of Rooks and Jackdaws searching the ground, and also a few groups of Common Gulls, both adults and first year birds.

I walked to look out over the Desmond Paddocks, a Buzzard was sitting on one of the posts, but was chased off by a couple of Jackdaws.  I headed back into the wood, but turned back as I remembered that the beech tree by the footpath was a good site for Porcelain fungi.  Sure enough on one of the boughs there were a couple of cups forming, and some smaller heads emerging from the bark.



Walking up the path, more Beech trees showed some beautiful colour.



There were plenty of calls around these trees, and I stopped to listen and wait to see what was about.  Two Wrens skulked through the bracken, a Robin sang above me, and in the trees there were Great Tits, Coal Tits and a single Blue Tit.



I could also hear Long-tailed Tits, and a few Goldcrests, but they stayed high in the canopy.  Eventually the flock moved away, heading into the darker parts of the wood.  I walked on to the Crossroads, where I turned towards Swellinghill.  The trees change here, the dominant species now being Sweet Chestnut, the long leaves showing a mixture of green and yellow.



A little further on and there are Oak trees.  These are normally the last trees to lose their leaves, and they don't necessarily have a vibrant colour.



I stopped to check the Larch and Pine trees in the hope of maybe a Redpoll, there were Coal Tits and several Goldcrests, but the only finches present were a small flock of Goldfinches.

I came out of the wood and walked to the pond.  The water was covered in fallen leaves, and in the far corner there was the usual October group of Mallard.  I counted 15, nothing like highest count of previous years but a consistent build up.



On the lawn on the other side of the road there was a small clump of field mushrooms growing amongst the dew covered grass.



A little further along the lane yet another tree in splendid autumn colour, this time a Cherry, the leaves a gorgeous pinkish orange.



I decided to walk back into Old Down across the field, and as I climbed over the style I could see three Roe Deer in the field.  As I got closer they became aware of me, and turned to head into the wood, as they moved away from me I could see the white patches on their rears.



As I walked along Gradwell I could hear the calls of Redwing above me, the "seeep" calls distinctive in the still overcast conditions.  I saw several move over me, but as I turned into Brislands I could see thrushes in a dead tree alongside the lane.  At first there were two Song Thrushes, but soon they were joined by at least four Redwing.



They didn't stick around and soon flew off, leaving me to walk back home hoping that maybe the Sparrowhawk would be there once again, but of course it wasn't.

Autumn is well and truly with us, the colours are lovely, all we need now is just some sunshine and blue skies, tomorrow maybe?

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