We have been away over the last few days, so I have not managed to get out locally. This though has not stopped the sightings, on Thursday evening two House Martins were inspecting the old nest on the house opposite. This is ten days earlier than I have ever seen the House Martins return since we have lived here, and that is 23 years, it is also the first time I have seen a House Martin before a Swallow locally too. They were still about on Friday morning, and then this morning from the garden there were a pair over the house.
There have also been Swallows too, as I drove down Charlwood past the horse stable there were three circling above the trees.
Despite a poor forecast the weather was quite pleasant, still a cool north westerly wind, but warm in the sunshine, and no sign of the forecast rain. I set off along Lymington Bottom in the sun, and then up Brislands. Unusually a Greenfinch showed very well in a hedge by the side of the lane.
As I reached the turn with Gradwell, there was a call coming from the hedge, at first I wasn't sure what it was but when I saw a male Blackbird I realised it had to be a fledgling calling. Edging close to the hedge I could just see the youngster in the grass of the field.
And it continued to call for more food.
I carried on along the lane heading for Old Down. On the verge someone has been planting Snake's Head Fritillaries, as I have not seen these here before.
Looking across the field towards Old Down the trees are now full of competing greens, even the colour in the field was varied.
Just before the entrance to the wood There were two Wrens competing in song. One Wren was in the oak tree singing from the Ivy.
While the other was in the hedge next to the field gates.
Walking through the woods I could hear Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, but the dominant song was coming from the many Wrens here.
I turned onto the perimeter path, and headed west, the Bluebells are now well advanced, and probably about 50% out.
With the tree canopy still not covered by leaves this is the best time to look for wildflowers. The Wood Spurge is very evident, tall spikes of lime green foliage contrasting against a background of the deep blue haze.
Wood Anemones are still in flower, the petals turned towards the sunshine.
A Chiffchaff appeared and sang from some scrub, the background is of the crop in the field beyond.
Bumblebees could be seen flying amongst the Bluebells, and nectaring on the blue flowers.
The path wound through some familiar areas, and I kept scanning the floor of the wood. In the usual spot I found an Early Purple Orchid, not quite in flower but not far off, and once again this is the earliest I have seen this flower out.
From the perimeter path I turned in and headed up the main path towards the crossroads. A male Orange Tip flew past me not stopping, and then as I walked towards the Old Down entrance, another copied the feat.
The Thistles are just beginning to emerge, at the moment they are about a foot high, in a few weeks time they will be towering over me.
I came out of the wood, and before heading to the pond crossed the stile and walked along the south side of the hedge. With some sun about there is always the chance of butterflies, and sure enough I could see an Orange Tip flying away from me. I walked on and started to catch up with it as it hovered in one place. It soon became clear the reason why it had stopped, there was a female on a flower.
It flew around the female trying to get close, but when she did become receptive to his advances he flew off! I followed him as it flew up and down, finally landing on some Cuckoo flower.
It is always lovely to catch up with the years first Orange Tips, they are just so photogenic.
The first set of photographs of what I a sure will be many.
It finally flew off, so I turned back and joined the lane and walked on to the pond. A Chiffchaff was creeping through the bramble at the side of the road. It did show well, but not for the camera.
A single male Mallard was at the far end of the pond, and was calling which was strange. I walked around the pond to try and see if I could hear the Firecrest I had seen a week ago.
There was no sign or sound of the Firecrest, but there was a Goldcrest which was just as nice.
Above a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed, and there were Mistle Thrushes in the trees above the picnic area.
I walked on, and down towards the school. The two Red-legged Partridges were in the field as usual.
I headed home, pleased with some good butterfly pictures at last, and another new date for the orchid in Old Down. Everything this year is starting to arrive early.