Yet another cold day, clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine, I headed out a little later today, it was a good evening last night! As I walked along Brislands it felt a little warmer than when I was out yesterday, but still in sheltered spots there was frost. I turned into Gradwell in the hope of seeing the large flocks that had been present yesterday, but could only find a large flock of Chaffinches that flew up from the edge of the field and into the surrounding trees.
I turned uphill towards Kitwood, and as I passed the house opposite the school I was scolded by a Wren that sat out in the open on the fence.
A little further on a Nuthatch called from the trees above the road, as it constantly searched the lichen on the branches.
I headed out along Lyeway, into the sunshine which was very bright with the sun being so low in the sky at this time of year. Out in the fields, a few gulls were circling the field, and there were several brown lumps casting shadows that stood out amongstthe short stalks of the crops.
These were brown Hares, and I counted six "lumps" spread out across the field, the highest count I have had here, previously the high numbers are normally around the fields at Plain Farm.
A little more scanning revealed three Lapwing also in the field. These two approaching one of the "lumps".
From nowhere the number of gulls seemed to increase. There was a few Black-headed Gulls, but at least 15 Common Gulls, they circled the field constantly looking down, very much in the same way a barn or Short-eared Owl would. Sometimes from a distance this behaviour can lure you into thinking there is an owl hunting.
The ever increasing circles brought them closer to the camera.
For some reason I had ignored the field on the opposite side of the lane, and when i turned I noticed it was full of birds too. At first I thought they were thrushes, but then could see that they were actually Golden Plover.
Using the hedge as cover I was able to get quite close to the birds as they fed.
In total spread out across the field I managed to count 160 in the field, for once they were all actively feeding rather than just grouped all together in a roost.
As a car went past several of the birds were spooked and flew away from the hedge calling.
A small group flew around calling, and then headed away to the south and the fields on the other side of the farm. The remainder continued to feed but a considerable way away from the camera, and also into the sunlight.
I carried on walking, stopping every so often to scan the fields. A lone Buzzard sat on the lower metal of the pylon, scanning the area too.
Around the farm buildings there were Pied Wagtail and Chaffinches, and in the fields at the back of the barns I could hear Fieldfare, while I could see Redwing feeding out in the open.
Another flock of twelve Lapwing were at the back of the field, they were as ever very flighty, a low flying Woodpigeon putting them up. They circled and split up, nine headed out across the field and away while the remaining three returned to the field, dropping to the ground in that floppy style holding the wings high as they settled.
The call of another Nuthatch caught my attention, and I turned to find the owner of the call sitting high on a branch above me.
In sheltered south facing spots the catkins were already showing on the hazel trees, the sun turning then a lovely golden yellow.
I decided to walk around the fields to Andrew lane, I don't very often do this circuit in this direction, normally choosing to come up the lane. The different direction showed me some very different views, this looking down the lanes as I descended. The frost still present where the sun was unable to reach
As I approached the paddocks I was presented with another different view. Looking across the valley I could see the path leading to Old Down, and the finger post just visible by the stile. I wondered why I had not noticed this before and realised that when I stop at the gates to look over the fields and paddock the view is obscured by the trees. It was only because i came down the hill to the gate that I was able to see it.
As I passed the houses I could hear once again the chuckling of Fieldfares, but I could only see Redwing in the trees.
The Redwing were feeding on Rowan berries, the same berries that are outside, or were outside my house, they are all gone now. The berries were draped over a wall, and were present on both sides. It was on the other side of the wall as I approached that the Fieldfare were feeding, and I finally managed to see them.
At the bottom of Andrew Lane there was a large gathering of Magpies. I had seen several when scanning over the paddocks, and here there were at least eight present on the ground and along the fences. However at the bottom of the land there was another large gathering, mostly in the trees.
They were then joined by a group of Rooks, and from the commotion that started up I wondered if they had found an owl or something in the trees. I walked around to get a closer look but couldn't see anything, and as I arrived all the birds flew off.
I turned back and started to walk up through the Desmond Paddocks towards Old Down. The field was full of Fieldfare, their chuckles being hear every so often as I disturbed them as I passed by. I counted at least 115 feeding there.
I walked through the wood, the frost in the ground now coming out which made walking difficult as the top of the path was slippery mud on top of a frost hard base. I stopped to look out across the paddocks and away to the west and the now dropping sun. The air was full of mist, not a good sign for the evening and rush hour tomorrow.
As I reached the crossroads I heard the calls of a Marsh Tit, and quickly found it in amongst the bushes along with a second bird.
As I walked east towards the Gradwell exit the sun was behind me, and sending long shadows and golden light. Every so often this would pick out a dead frong of bracken and turn it into a thing of beauty.
As I walked along Gradwell towards the turn into Brislands I stopped to check the field. Earlier when I had walked past it had been empty save for a few Blackbirds and a lone Buzzard in the tree. Now it was covered in Redwing, moving with that methodical searching approach that involves a stop and start technique, the stop usually resulting in a stab to the ground. I counted 87 birds in the field.
Brislands takes you once again on an west to east path, and the sun shines straight up the lane. This time it was catching and highlighting the lighter green on the underneath of the Holly leaves, casting some lovely patterns against the much darker upper waxy leaves.
I walked home with the chattering and whistles of Starlings from the tops of houses, mostly the television aerials. Those that were not singing away were flying around in small groups as if trying to get a murmuration going.
Another lovely but cold day, this afternoon providing a contrast to the walk I had yesterday morning. The cold weather is set to continue, albeit with maybe freezing fog through the early part of the week. A continued spell of cold weather can have an adverse effect on the wildlife here, with birds setting off to find slightly warmer climes, and an easier search for food. Hopefully this won't be the case too much, and just maybe new visitors might appear from the even colder areas, we shall have to see.