And so to October, and the final quarter of the year. Yesterday we saw heavy rain with a few odd sunshine breaks, overnight it was cool, and the morning started cloudy with a fresh north westerly but through the morning the clouds burnt away and the sun came through. Around the house there are plenty of signs that we are well into autumn, trees changing colour, and ripe red berries covering the branches.
There were more signs as I walked along Lymington Bottom towards the turn to Brislands, cob webs standing out in the sunshine.
Robins sang from the trees, and Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests called from the conifers as I headed up the hill past the new houses. At the turn to the recreation ground a Great Tit was calling loudly from the side of the large oak tree.
I checked the horse field, which for once had a horse in it. In the next field there are the remnants of thistles that stick out above the grass, but today they looked different. A closer look revealed a buck Roe Deer dozing in the morning sunshine.
Another shape beyond the buck revealed yet another pair of ears.
Back to the buck, and my presence had woken him, and he just watched me as I took more photographs.
Just past the turn to Gradwell a large flock of Long-tailed Tits buzzed into the canopy of a large Oak. I watched as they swung on the branches continually calling to each other. This one was watching as several above it moved through the leaves.
As well as the tits there were several Chiffchaffs hanging around with them, these were the first of quite a few around the patch today. They were though very mobile, and were very difficult to get a clear shot on.
I decided to walk along Brislands for a change. Overhead I could hear a Skylark singing, and there was a group of six Skylarks that flew over calling heading West. Two Swallows also passed through.
I turned into the wood and made the way along the main path. The vegetation on both sides has finally recovered from all the forestry work, and now it looks very much like it did over three years ago.
I turned right at the crossroads, negotiating the muddy paths that had sprung up after yesterday's heavy rain. The woods are still very green and there is very little sight yet of the beech trees turning their autumnal golden colour.
At the west end the field has been left to fallow and there is plenty of grass and odd Rapeseed. I crossed a little way into the field, Meadow Pipits calling overhead, and a further two more Swallows moving through. A lone Poppy stood proud in the sunshine amongst the grass.
I walked down through the paddocks with the call of a distant Raven overhead, but I could not find it. I crossed over to Andrew Lane, and headed up the path past the houses. I always stop at the two gates to check the paddocks, the first one has never had anything in it all the time I have been checking, but this morning there was another sleepy Roe Deer.
The view across the wider paddocks produced only Magpies and Woodpigeons, but the single Beech trees out in the open were beginning to shows signs of autumn colour.
I came out at the top of the hill and walked past the sheep field with more Long-tailed Tits, and Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs calling. I would see them as they broke cover to chase after an insect, but never long enough to photograph.
Coming past Lye Way Farm there were more Chiffchaffs in the Horse Chestnut trees, and I finally managed to isolate one, but it is only a record shot.
As I waited and watched the warblers two large raptors broke the cover of the trees up a bove, two Red Kites circling above the sheep pastures.
A large combine harvester was outside the barns, and was an attraction to a pair of Dunnocks that seemed to be searching out insects amongst the old seed and green shoots.
As I headed along Lye Way towards Kitwood I could see the field was full of Gulls. Mostly Black-headed there were also Common and Herring Gulls.
I turned towards the pond, and above there were calls of Pied Wagtails everywhere, one settled on the roof of one of the cottages.
I had hoped to find the dragonflies around the pond, but there was no sign of any. There had been a dog in the water so maybe this had scared them away. I left the pond and walked on seeing two Song Thrush fly across in front of me, and then sitting deep in the middle of the trees, they watched me carefully.
I turned back into Old Down, and after negotiating the barks of the dog in the garden. |I came out into the open to hear a Nuthatch calling. I found it at the top of a Larch tree, trying to do an impression of a woodpecker
As I walked the main path I disturbed a butterfly, a Speckled Wood, then a dragonfly, that fortunately after flying around for a while settled back on to the bramble leaves in the full sun. It was a Southern Hawker, not sure now how often they will be about.
I turned towards the Gradwell path, and walked out of the wood, and crossed the field. In the hedge by the footpath a Red Admiral flew up from the nettles, and then settled back down again.
A little further on a large bird came from behind the trees, I was surprised to see a Grey Heron, what wasn't a surprise it was heading towards the pond.
Nothing spectacular today, but plenty of activity with lots of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, and a good visible movement of Pied Wagtails and Skylarks. Hirundines were in short supply though with only a handful of Swallows.
Back home the feeders went out again, the signs are that the diseased birds are gone, but we will have to be watchful. Other birds that seem to be gone are the House Martins. There was a large flock about on Monday last week, and Helen saw them Tuesday, but since then they have been conspicuous by their absence. Finally good news, Scruffy the Blackbird now has some lovely body feathers, and only some slight wear around the head and neck. He seems to be finally getting better.
All in all a lovely day to reflect the time of the season.