And now we are into November, the year rushing towards another winter. The weather over the last week has been mixed with sunshine, frosts, a bitingly cold northerly wind, and some heavy rain. This morning though it was clear and cold with some frost about. It has been quiet around the patch just recently, and I have ventured further a field to find some interesting wildlife. Details of my visit to the New Forest and Farlington Marshes last week can be found here
The Blackbird Scruffy has become a permanent member of the family now, every morning just before sun rise Helen goes out to put mealworms in the tray. He is never far away when she does this and this morning he was sitting in the tree watching her.
As she turns to come back inside he drops down to the lawn, and to thetray where he has his breakfast. Scruffy is only a reference to how he was in the summer and early autumn, his plumage now looks fine, the diet of protein rich mealworms having done the trick it would seem.
He would normally eat what he wanted and then would fly off to allow his side kick, Robin (yes we have Blackbird and Robin in the garden!), but today the Robin was not about.
The other good piece of news is that the Goldfinches and Greenfinches now seemt ot be free of the disease. The feeders have been up for a couple of weeks now and there has been no sign of sick birds. It has taken a while for the birds to return but this morning there were at least a dozen Goldfinches on the feeders, all looking quite healthy.
As the sun rose the Woodpigeons appeared, this one warming up on a frost covered roof.
The Starlings too had left their roost and were taking the chance to chatter away and preen on the television aerials.
It was clear azure blue skies through the morning, a glorious late autumn day, and with the forecast for the weekend looking decidedly dodgy, I set off to have an hour walking around Old Down and Swelling Hill Pond at lunch time.
As I arrived at the pond there were three pairs of Mallard and a single Moorhen out in the open water. The pond looked splendid with the surrounding colours of the leaves reflecting in the mirror like water.
The Moorhen was one of this year's fledglings as it lacked the bill colour of an adult, earlier in the year they were not that jumpy, but it seems to have learnt form the adult and apidly swam to the safety of the reeds.
The Mallard were less concerned and stayed out in the open.
I managed to find four pairs, the number having reduced from the fifteen that were present in October.
Leaving the pond I walked into the wood. A few Goldcrest called from the bushes and I could hear the raucous calls of Jays deep in the wood. As I walked along the path two Jays flew across in front of me, they must still be busy building their cache for the winter.
The larch leaves have finally turned a lovely golden brown, and every year this sight never ceases to impress me, you have to though see it with a lovely deep blue autumn sky, and the low golden sunshine.
As I walked along the path a male Pheasant was just a little ahead of me.
In sheltered spots there was still some warmth in the sunshine, and a few flys could be seen sitting on the bark of the beech trees in the full sunshine warming up.
I turned at the crossroads and headed towards the west, all around me the beech trees were a glorious yellowy brown colour, the leaves standing out against the dark inky blackness of the deeper wood.
I walked to the open area of pine trees, and stopped to look out over the fields. Rooks and Jackdaws were feeding among the cattle. Around me flocks of Woodpigeon burst from beneath the Beech trees, they were obviously feeding on the fallen beech mast.
I turned to walk back and looking up the path again the scene was one of wonderful autumn colour.
There was little bird song, just the odd call of a Jay, and the a Wren. Interestingly no Robins singing, maybe because tit was midday.
I found two Wrens facing off in the bracken, this bird eventually chasing off the intruder and claiming the high ground.
I stopped by the Larch trees to wait and listen. I heard Goldfinches calling in the distance, but despite some best efforts could not make out any Redpolls. Close by both Great Tit and Blue Tit foraged in the trees.
As I came out of the wood I noticed some more Beech leaves, this time still a lime green in colour, and back lit by the sunshine. Once again the flys were using the flat surface to warm up on, and you could clearly see their reflection through the thin leaf.
There was the constant calls of Rooks, crows and Jackdaws from the adjacent field, and as I came out of the wood I could see a large gathering of Jackdaws in the tall Eucalyptus tree.
Back at the pond I decided to walk around the outside. I could hear tapping in the trees and after searching through the branches finally located the owner, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker.
As I walked back to the car, I could not help being impressed by the wonderful colours surrounding the pond, and those reflected in the water.
Back home, as I stepped out into the garden, a Red Admiral flew past me, this is the latest one I have recorded here in Four Marks.
Some wonderful colour, on a wonderful day, it is a shame this will not last into the weekend.