Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cockchafers at dusk

It's a gorgeous summer evening. It's been hot all day and I went out for a run as it started to cool down. The buttercups have almost gone from the Tye and the white and pink clover is well out on the lower half along with lots of grasses - some of which look like barley and may have been left from previous years when the area was farmed. I was trying to see what other flowers were around. It was a good excuse to slow down for a bit!

There don't seem to be any sweetpeas growing in the brambles this year. Someone was throwing down seeds each year but they've been discouraged as they're not exactly natural. The red poppies have come out on the chalk making up the bunds that were put up along the Tye last year. They always grow in disturbed soil. I spotted what looks like yarrow a white and a pink version. I'll have to get the wild flower books out and swot up on my flowers.

As I came back over the top of the Tye there was a crow with what looked like a bare patch on it's rump. Either a result of a fight - they can get quite quarrelsome or over enthusiastic mating. I saw one in the Park this evening with white patches on it's wings. There were several of them poking about on the grass.

As I walked up to the shop there was a blackbird flitting up from the ground into one of the overhanging trees. It did this a couple of times and must have found something tasty there. As I walked back there were lots of Cockchafer beetles buzzing around in the evening light. I hadn't noticed them before but this evening they were everywhere. Large bumbling insects that make a loud buzzing sound - about as aerodynamic as a bumble bee but not quite so appealing.

Several swifts and housemartins about but no swallows - at least not down here in amongst the houses. I see them more often up on the Tye flying over the dewpond.

There seem to be more Song thrushes around this year. There were two in the park this evening. One on the ground, which didn't move at all as I walked past quite close by and the other singing from a treetop. I often see one up on the playing fields too. I just wish they would find their way into my garden! There's a ready larder of snails there for them. I have seen one appear every now and then but it's a rare visitor.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Clover on the Tye

Went out for a run this evening having put it off all day and not managed one this morning. Sunny but that cold wind is still around.

Two woodpigeons were doing a balancing act on the telephone wire - looking like trainee tightrope walkers.

Heard the whitethroat and saw one solitary linnet as I ran back up the hill on the Tye. A few greenfinches around and of course the skylarks. The lower part of the Tye is heavily covered with clover and grass - I haven't been down that far for a while. A result of the area being ploughed and farmed over twenty years ago. It just goes to show how long it takes for an area to revert to natural meadow.

Didn't notice the sweetpeas that were all down the funeral track last year. So called because the funeral carriages used to go up the track to Telscombe Village at the top of the Tye.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sunny and wind

Mid morning run - sunny but a cool wind blowing in from the sea which keeps the temperature down.

Not many birds around although I did see a couple of goldfinches at the top of the hawthorn bushes. I also spotted the female kestrel flying off across the rape field which has now all gone to seed. The grass in the next field to it has been cut and the large round bales are waiting to be collected.

Lots of butterflies have appeared over the last few days both up on the Tye and around the garden. The round orange flowers of the buddleia opposite are attracting Red Admirals. My buddleias haven't flowered yet but I'll look forward to seeing what they attract when they do.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Evening walk

It was a lovely evening for a walk having been cooped up all day in the house - although I had walked up to the shop earlier and spent most of the day sitting out in the garden, taking breaks when it got too hot. Going slightly stir-crazy and finally bored of my own company.

I didn't set out until about 8.30 knowing that it didn't get dark until almost 10pm these days. There was a song thrush singing loudly from the clump of trees on the edge of the lower playing field, being echoed by another in the gardens on the other side with some equally vocal blackbirds.

I'd recently read about a form of walking meditation which I managed to do for a few yards this evening before slipping back into just absorbing the world around me. In the cool of the evening there was the smell of dew forming on the grass after the heat of the day. Moving away from the noise of the road and the gardens up to the quiet of the fields.

The sun was just setting over the hill as I walked up onto the Tye. Quiet and still, apart from a whitethroat calling up along the track. A pink and purple band of colour tinged the sky out to sea which was flat calm with an oily sheen that you get on still, flat days. Orange and gold starting to glow as the sun started to disappear from view. Bright white ribbons of plane exhausts streaked across the sky.

I walked up to the dewpond which was shrinking in size after a couple of days of heat and no rain to top it up. The lining is very cracked and exposed, so it's never going to fill up and the water is muddy like milky tea. Despite that, the pond is full of snails and waterboat men, which must have lain dormant as eggs when it dried up completely last summer or buried themselves deep in the mud. I also spotted a newt! I had to watch carefully again but, yeap - it was definitely a newt. A smooth one, not a great-crested. It's amazing how creatures will appear in a pond from apparently nowhere.

I did wonder if there was a chance of seeing a barn owl but there were two kids roaring around on a quad bike and 4x4s using the track from the village, so unlikely. I headed back down checking out the field at the top to see if there was a fox about. I noticed the badger pathways disappearing into the ditch up along the field. You could see where they've been digging, so their set must be around somewhere, probably in amongst the scrub and nettles. If I waited long enough I might be lucky but it was getting darker and I was really dressed for sitting and waiting - at least not tonight. I have seen a badger once when I went up for a run one evening. It ran across the road in front of me.

There was the "pink, pink, pink" of a blackbird's alarm call - a very evocative sound remeniscent of hot summer evenings. Usually alarmed at a cat or a bird of prey but this time it was probably me. Two swifts flew by. Surprisingly the skylarks were still singing away up on high. It must have been at least 9.30pm - almost dark but they were still singing.

As I came back down across the playing field, the song thrushes were still going. I was on the look out for bats, thinking they'd be coming out by now and sure enough, I spotted one just by the car park. It was a large one, can't think off hand which one, I know it's not a pipestrelle. Nice to see as I don't see them around very often.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fox out in daylight

I finally got out for a run this morning. The first one in over a week as I've been stuffed up with a cold and cough for a few days. It's still not clear but I felt well enough to go out.

A grey and blustery day - complete contrast from the last few days of sunshine and heat. Not much to be seen - a few greenfinches on the wire and blue tits in the hedgerow at the top of the Tye. The cow parsley is well out and now that the hawthorn is finishing the elderflowers are coming out. I heard a couple of whitethroats along the track and of course the skylarks are around and nesting up on the Tye. The cows and sheep are gone leaving the nesting birds in peace. The grasses are out and the buttercups now almost finished. The dewpond is only half full - the last couple of days heat have started to dry it up and the black liner is torn and exposed so it's never going to fill up which is a shame. The flag irises are in flower and there at least two other water plants in there. One of which looks like bullrushes - but no flower spikes yet.

On the way back down I spotted a fox in front of me on the track. In went through the fence ahead and when I climbed up to have a look, had doubled back past me and was making it's way up the edge of the field being mobbed by two crows. It was their cawing that alerted me to where it was. Every now and then it stopped to have a go before moving on a few feet as they pestered it further. I lost sight of it as it trotted away along the edge of the field. I think it's den is up in that field as I've seen it there a couple of times.

Back at home, I think the starlings may be starting a second brood in the roof. I heard them this morning and they've been very quiet for a couple of weeks so the first brood must have fledged. I also watched the house martins yesterday flying up under the eaves of a house across the way. Hopefully they are nesting. I had a pair under my eaves several years ago but they haven't been back for a while.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Telscombe Tye Survey

As part of the BBC Springwatch - I happened to note that there was a wildlife survey taking place on Telscombe Tye. As it's my local patch I thought I'd go and help out. They took some tracking down because not only was the number on the BBCs website incorrect but no one seemed to know much about what was happening or who was organising it. However, undaunted by the first call, I managed to track down the local organiser after a series of phone calls and after a very helpful BTCV member got back to me with a phone number.

It was a glorious sunny day. Summer seems to have finally arrived and I walked up to the Tye - stopping on the way to herd some errant sheep back into their field. Two were in the rape field with their lambs and another three were on the Tye. Despite not being the most intelligent of animals I managed to get them back into their field without too much persuasion. Who needs a sheep dog!

The 'surveyors' were easy to spot as there were a group of them with binoculars studying small birds on the gorse and brambles. It turned out the survey was intended to see if the skylarks were nesting on the Tye and if so, how many. The farmer wanted to take a cut of the grass which would obviously destroy any nests so the idea was to delay this for a month.

Yes, there were several skylarks - particularly at the top end of the Tye and that is where most of the wildflowers and downland grasses are. It has been free of fertiliser for twenty years so is more naturalised and the hope is that orchids will return to the area. They hope to get some money together to repair the dewpond at the top of the Tye, which has more water in it now and was attracting a few swallows and a small flock of linnets. Several housemartins around and a couple of whitethroats.

Apparently a barn owl and hares have been seen up there so I need to get up there early morning or late evening to see if I can see them.