15 October 2018

2018 / 71

13:30 – 16:00
Overcast and dull. Flat white sky shifting to rumbling grey. Warmish 17°C. Light easterly.
Previous two days heavy rain.

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Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)

A profusion of fungi today, especially in the woods on the south side.
Some I recognise and can name, but most of which I can’t, so I will add captions if anyone can identify them for me*

* – I am grateful to Phil Budd at Southampton Nature for the identification of these fungi. All have now been added to the Systematic List. Phil advises that both Birch Knight and Glistening Inkcap have not previously been recorded in the wood.

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Rust-Gill (Gymnopilus penetrans)

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Glistening Inkcap (Coprinus micaceus)

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Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea)

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Birch Knight (Trichiosoma fulvum)

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False Death Cap (Amanita citrina)

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Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis atramentaria)

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Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare)

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Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

 

The Wood smelled damp and fresh. Wild and beautiful.
There was standing water beside the track at the top, lots of puddles and a thin glistening layer of moisture on the leaves, grass and berries.

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At the top of the track, along the Upper Quarter, three Firecrests greeted me.
Two together and a vocal third. I have not recorded them here before – clearly dispersed young moving out from the main territories. Superb views, and I proceeded to encounter half a dozen more between here and the reedbed.
Noticeably quieter on the south side, where I had expected there to be more.Four in all, including one in the open near the hornets. Isn’t it slightly ridiculous to consider a count of between 12 and 15 Firecrests ‘disappointing’?? They are jewels. Beautiful, beautiful little birds that it is an absolute delight to walk among.

A single golden birch leaf is ‘flying’ cross the cleared area. Gently and slowly, climbing steadily upwards on an air current. Spinning, but almost purposefully as if it were a butterfly.

One of the Ravens came over several times during the afternoon, at one point pursued by Jackdaws and a Crow when it had a large food item in its mouth.

There can’t be many places where you can sit for half an hour and see six corvid species?

Also today, I watched a tree fall. Unique in my experience. Standing in the SW valley at the bole, I heard a loud ‘crack’ as if a branch snapped under a heavy footfall. Followed seconds later by a rustling shuffle in the canopy. I looked across at the sound and saw leaves moving and disturbed as if by squirrels. There was a slow, creaking yawn and then the tearing sound of splintering wood as a young birch toppled over about a metre above the base. A split tree – rotten? – not uprooted by heavy rain.
A special thing to witness.

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9 October 2018

2018 / 70

08:00 – 13:00 (except 10- 11)

Bright, sunny and warm. Cool at first 7°C, clearing a mist and warming to 19°C.

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The intention today was to spend a couple of hours here at dawn, and then return in the afternoon with a camera and enough time to do a full circuit and make a serious estimate of the Firecrest population.
Instead, I did the morning walk as expected and left just before 10am. Immediately I got to the office the phone rang and I spoke to Daniel Etheridge, the “bee man” on behalf of the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Met him onsite just after 11.00 for a visit to and report on the hornet’s nest I found last week.

It is NOT Asian Hornet as I and others feared. Instead, it is an unusual European Hornet nest, formed by the ‘overspill’ of the colony using a hole within the trunk of the tree. This explains its shape, colour and exposed location. Not a common phenomenon at all, but increasing so this year as all wasp species have had an exceptionally good year.

As Dan and I watched, he explained all about the colony to me, and explained the behaviour of the insects we observed. Several drones were ‘dancing’ outside the nest, waiting for the emergence of a new queen. When she emerged (35-40mmm long) they sought to mate with her. Once impregnated, she will then find somewhere to spend the winter – in a tree hole or under leaf litter – an emerge to establish her own colony next spring. We only saw on eew queen emerge, but there could be several more in this large colony, which hopefully means a good population next year.
We also watched several insect ‘housekeeping’. They defecate out of the entrance hole and emit a strong smelling liquid that darkens the forest floor under the nest. The same area is also littered with other detritus, dirt etc – Hornets are very clean insects and keep a clean, tidy nest.

Once DE left (after first experience of an obliging Firecrest), I spent 90-minutes or so walking the north side until I got hungry, thirsty and left for home.

08:00 – 10:00

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Sunrise along Q2 in The Passage

Redwings. Fractious, fidgety and flighty between the two Yews in the east clearing. 3 birds, maybe 5 or 6. Difficult to see them all at once. Lovely to hear that thin, whistling call again and see this Scandinavian migrants heralding the shifting season.
Another dozen or more out on the western clearing too, also mixed with up to a dozen Mistle Thrushes.
Lots of birdsong this morning – Robins, Wrens, Nuthatch and tits. From the edge of the grass, a Red Admiral goes up – first one for a while? A small group of Siskin too as I cross the stream, and a Raven goes over the trees unseen. Plenty of activity in the GS Woodpecker community, and Coal Tits busy feasting on spiders. In Q2, there is a Jay collecting acorns under one of the oaks I pruned. A cue for me to gather some sweet chestnuts. A couple of Bullfinches hooting, and a Firecrest calling by the fallen oak. There’s a deer off to my right too, but I can’t seem it. Probably the Muntjac

 

It’s picture-perfect on the cleared area. The air is still and the sky clear blue.
Redwings, Mistle Thrushes and a few more Siskins around. ‘Pinking’ Chaffinches and a half-dozen noisy Magpies.
Looking up when that birders ‘sixth sense’ is triggered. Three large somethings approaching from the north-west. Gulls? Geese? No – they pass right over my head and turn out to be Cormorants. Seems incredulous that I have recorded this species here three times now – this trio is the second overhead this year. My guess is that Hut Wood is on a flightpath between Fishlake Meadows near Romsey (only 5 miles hence) where large numbers gather and Southampton Water?

Which puts Ospreys on a similar trajectory.

At the top of the track, there are at least 3 Firecrests in the corner, and a fourth in the West wood. One Common Darter (female) and a few Speckled Wood now on the wing.

Two Ravens are clattering around in the birch stand along the stream. Chattering and ‘laughing’ to each other, they move off to the east ahead of me.

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11:45 – 13:00

It’s very warm now. I could do without the coat as I descend the track again, along the north side. Firecrest here opposite the Christmas trees. Two more behind the fallen oak, and another two on lower Velmore. I am ready for a hatful, but it is surprisingly quiet along this path by the farm and I didn’t hear anymore by the time i stepped out onto the footpath. In the yard and paddocks, there are two Dunnocks and a couple of Pied Wagtails. Crows, Jackdaws and a Magpie. Greenfinch and Chaffinch. A Buzzard. Half a dozen Speckled Woods. The two Ravens have made their way to the Roughs and are soaring and circling like raptors over the trees. No Pheasants or Gulls around…?

Cutting back in through the silence of Q4. Yellow birch leaf petals cover the ground. Cracking dry twigs underfoot. Two Large Whites.

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I am tiring and it feels a long way back up round the track. A smallish tit flock by the stream crossing yields another 2 or 3 vocal Firecrests and one Chiffchaff.

One last Brimstone up at the top end. Making the most of what’s left of the summer. Everything is set to change later in the week, now the Redwing have arrived…

5 October 2018

2018 / 69

Still, calm. Light cloud.
19:00 – 20:00

I am surveying for Tawny Owls as part of the BTO’s national initiative.

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It’s a lovely evening with no breath of wind, but the traffic noise as a result is invasive and unavoidable. Only in the southwest corner at the Chilworth pines is there any  respite. There is little twilight, and with the sun setting at 6:40 it is already quite dark when I get to the Crossing around 7pm. I’ve heard one wren, and heard the last rustling movements of a few Woodpigeons.

The only owl I know of in the Wood is most often at the end of FC Alley (I must change that name!), and it is from here that I hear the first calls of a female. There is a brief duet with a hooting male, but he ‘sings’ only twice in the hour of my circuit. The female continues to call for a few minutes, but it is quiet again when I get to the cleared area. I am briefly startled by the appearance of two silent Woodcock chasing one another over the bracken. What a great surprise!

Ove the next 45 minutes I walk slowly around the track, stopping for a couple of minutes every 100m or so. I can hear nothing. At the corner, where the tracks join, there is another Owl, very close and calling in flight I think but I can’t see him. His calls disappear into the west wood, and that unfortunately is it. No other sounds.

At approximately 200 acres (75 hectares), the Wood could sustain maybe three males? But territory size is not not determined by the single factor of available space (Zool, J 1994. Patterns of territory size in urban and rural Tawny Owl populations) Zool observes the importance of food availability, determined in rural areas by the extent of grass, fields and ditches in woodland. Less food requires obviously a larger territory.

I have never been convinced there is any more than one male bird in Hut Wood, although one survey doesn’t really prove much one way or the other. I had expected noisier, more active birds but they are hard work. I think I probably had three this evening, but that’s being optimistic.

3 October 2018

2018 / 68

Bright, clear and still. Beautiful light.  Very light east breeze. Warm19°C
1.15pm – 4pm

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I have returned. The tranquility and peace here is irresistible. I am engaged, and possessed. The wood absorbs me.
Walking down the track, left from the gate, I am struck by the splendour of the two large chestnut trees on the edge of the wood here. They are dropping leaves and seedcases in abundance. My footsteps crunch like gravel. Next are two oaks, still largely blue-ish green, and past them a stand of white-trunked birches, whose yellow leaves are falling like confetti. One actually is a Brimstone butterfly, and there is a second one farther on. This first one is resting on brambles along the water course.
The first of the large yews stands right on the corner here, and rounding it I come to the first birds. Song Thrush, Robin, Nuthatch and Long-tailed Tit – on the left, in the southern belt.

I seldom walk in here, and so today made an exception, stepping over the bank of bracken and heading “in”. Picking a route through the trees and holly, finding deer paths and snagging on the understorey of life is far more interesting and rewarding than following the well-worn, wide and familiar track. Here are secret treasures like ‘Razor Strop’ polypores, rampant on a fallen birch; and two of these wonderful Earthballs

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Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum)

I am learning, learning. Explore. Discover. Find.

Twenty minutes further on, halfway twixt the crossing and the stream, I came upon a hornet’s nest, 20 feet up the trunk of a beech. All around today, a lot of hornets are buzzing and feeding. New season drones. They will vacate soon – in temperate climates such as ours, they move house each year, spending the winter under bark and in leaf matter.

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Another fungi next, and one that I confess I overlooked and stepped on several specimens. Hard to see at first in the long grass that grows opposite the top of the Crossing, at the entrance to the path that leads off to the Oak Plantation. Here is a rich scattering of woodchips from the felling of two years ago, creating a favoured habitat for – well – ‘magic mushrooms’, the wonderfully named Blueleg Brownie

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Blueleg Brownie (Psilocybe cyanescens)

Taking the ‘path’ up the slope from here just past the stream, I am again walking on rich grass. Mossy tree stumps here and there, like stepping stones. Some cut, some less neatly so. Decaying, and perfect for the third new fungi discovery this afternoon.
A toxic one this time, the common and widespread – bitter but no less beautiful for that – clustering toadstool Sulphur Tuft. Apparently containing a steroid that is known to prevent fungal disease in some conifers.

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I have become encyclopedic. A walking Woodland Wiki…

But what I really want to eulogise today are the Firecrests. It makes me smile to simply write the words, and recall the magical encounters this afternoon.

I had not stepped more than a few metres into the southern woodland when I heard the first one this afternoon, piercing over the drone of the all-too-adjacent traffic, and within minutes I met a second. A third at the top of the crossing, at the mushrooms, and blow me if there weren’t two more halfway up the grassy slop towards the Chilworth gardens.
These last two were loud and close, and it took little more than a couple of minutes leaning against a tree to have one within feet right over my head. We had a ‘conversation’ – I confess that yes I did speak aloud. Incredible.
Seeking more, and with a spring in my step, I set off along the more familiar path that winds its way along the southern perimeter fence line. Audacious, but at a suitable point I could not resist calling them out, and two responded immediately. Calling, not singing. Young males. Dispersing, seeking territories of their own. The population has exploded!
Within a hundred metres there were two more. Always two or three together. Always loud and inquisitive. “Pishhh pisshhh – hello”. No need for anything more.

What’s that now. Eight? Nine or ten. And of course all entirely different birds from the similar numbers I met on the north side yesterday.

Descending – after almost an hour – to the ‘bole’ on the edge of the track, I was surprised not to have any Firecrests here, a spot I would consider one of the most reliable. But that’s in early spring. I have come to associate February with Firecrests, because that is when the singing males are most active.
But it is in October that the juveniles start to roam and they are, it is no exaggeration to say – everywhere!

At just after 3.00pm I have come to the track and emerged into complete, tangible silence. There are moments when I can actually hear nothing at all except the sound of my own thoughts and my feet. I walk slowly, very conscious that I am also the only thing moving. Except the light. It dances on the wings of tiny flies, and laser beams shoot upwards now and then along spider silks.
There is a persistent Bullfinch calling, and it is almost an irritation, being all to reminiscent of a domestic smoke alarm in need of a new battery.

From the seat, for just fifteen minutes, there is nothing. Those times when I lift my bins to watch a solitary Woodpigeon passing over. No finches, no Kestrel. No Buzzards. And no Hobbies? Not from here, nor there where they have been every day for weeks. Pretenders to the crown.

I have to leave the last word to the resident royalty. On the south side, I am watching what turns out to be a Blue Tit fussing at the bark on a pine, flicking the leaves and making shadows, when a Firecrest just ‘pops out’. Another young bird – I can see him so well! But not quite as well as the three together – with a Chiffchaff and some more Blue Tits – up by the big Yew at ‘Hobby corner’. Flycatching, calling incessantly. Not a full spring adult song. Flicking, flashing. I hardly know where to look.

Fifteen birds I think, at least.
More than I have even hoped to see.

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2 October 2018

2018 / 67

Overcast and heavy cloud, clearing later. Moderate east wind. Mild 19°C

2pm – 4pm

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What alchemy within this court?
What magic lies?
What spells are taught?
These sprites with crowns of flame
A curious, ill temper
(aptly named)
Anxious disposition
Disappear
As quickly as they came
To mark the caller
Seated, quiet
Spirit tired
Elixir of leaf and berry
Holly, birch
And wild cherry
A stone drop’d by a thrush
A redwing’s winter rush
What secrets live in here?
What fantastic beasts
The fox, the deer
A squirrel’s chatter
Passing news
A court of splendour such
Who would not choose?

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I have found another place to sit, on the north side.
Firecrest metropolis! On hearing two in Larpers Lane earlier and getting frustrating views, I began to realise the weather today was more favourable than I anticipated. The blustery, occasional and unpredictable wind does generally pass over the top here, and while the track in places can be exposed, it is often quiet and still among the trees.
It is ALWAYS quiet and still with the trees, especially at low level, and today perceptibly so as I stepped inside, seeking sanctuary.
I am a stranger here, an outsider. My arrival is of course announced immediately by the squirrels and a Woodpecker I hadn’t seen. There is no visible activity, and for a while I can hear no birds at all, except a clicking Wren and a Robin ‘over there’. Two deer, startled, run off a few metres then stop to watch me.
It is while watching them I heard a Firecrest, quite close, and held his attention with some gentle ‘pishing’. Between a couple of pines, off a path cut by the horses through thick vegetation, I noticed the little grove (above) and made to sit down on the fallen tree.

Sit, watch. Listen.
Shortly, there are two Firecrests close. A pair, and I am watching the female perfectly in my bins. Stop motion through a holly bush, along a branch. Both are calling, and it doesn’t take me long to see the male. I would like to believe he has come to see me, his head cocking form one side to the other. Crest raised, singing. Another male appears to my left, and all three birds start chasing round, passing over my head. Too close for optics. Smile-making.

Within 100 metres I stop again, hearing another. And another. Two more. Retracing a few steps, I chose again a sheltered grove and wait. Pish pish. They really do respond. Curiosity gets the better of them. I wish to hold out my hand and have them land on my arm, my head. My shoulders.
Ten or more encounters here. There’s an art to it, one has to be attuned.
I am blessed to be so.

As I arrived at Velmore and walked up the slope (I rarely take this path in this direction), one of the Hobbies arrived. Noisy. Subtle as a Parakeet! I did not see him land, and all the favoured perches were empty. Emerging at The Crossing, a Kestrel took me by surprised and swept away into the trees – I think he had been sitting in a Yew on the corner?
There’s another surprise waiting for me on turning left to depart via the track.
A Buzzard, on the ground, feeding on something?
I expected to see carrion, but the dark lump was ‘only’ a pile of horse poo shrouded in flies. Some lumps were broken open. So was the Buzzard eating flies and ants? Or eating the manure? Interesting.

From here, north west direction, crows hanging in the wind. Wait, two banked and headed off. Ravens! A few sidesteps to get a better view (immediately behind the Aviva pines) and yes FIVE of them. Five! On October 8 last year I had six over the farmland.
It’s a family group, there can be no doubt. But how far do they travel? Birds are seen by others regularly over Southampton Common, weston Shore and the docks – either singles or occasional two. How many do we have locally – and is this all of them?

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30 September 2018

2018 / 66

Crisp and bright morning, 7°C.
Heavy dew and early mist – clear skies by 9.00am. 

8.00am – 10.00am

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Lots of activity in the east cleared patch this morning – 3-4 Mistle Thrushes, Long-tailed and Blue Tits, much birdsong (Robins, Wrens etc) and two Spotted Flycatchers. High up in the middle of the three yews, and they flew off together into Q1 but could not be relocated. Very active Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and the remaining Chiffchaffs are vocal. Also noticed 2-3 Chaffinches round and about. These are beginning tot increase – there was another half dozen at the west end, and two flew over calling while I was at the Hobbies.
The finch flock is now up to over 60 birds. Easy to dismiss as ‘all Goldfinches’ but that is to overlook the Chaffinches among them, and the steadily increasing number of Greenfinches which have probably now reached double figures.

Mistle Thrush numbers are also slowly creeping up. As well as the few here, there were double figures again at the west end.

Noticeably cooler on arrival at Velmore – the end of Q2 still in shade early on. Heavy dewfall again last night – enough to drip off the leaves and wet the sleeves in passing.
As I stood here, a noisy group of SIX Magpies dropped out of the woodland and flew raucously into he ‘Buzzard tree’. Here, they were joined by another bird, and there were still two others calling nearby. That’s an unprecedented count. Not a bird I would especially welcome, but perhaps there is a roost here? Worth keeping an eye on.
As for other corvids? Three Jays in different places, a couple of others calling. Jackdaws overhead and later the two adult Ravens drifted over from the west. No Rooks, but that’s no surprise as I didn’t get over to the farmland.

One Hobby – the older bird – flew over Q3 and out of the wood. His brother remained in the same treetop as yesterday afternoon, calling throughout. Does one feed the other?
While watching these, I heard Siskins overhead. Two or three birds.

At the bottom of Q3, beside the first stream, two Firecrests were quarrelling and chasing each other. Showed well, of brief. Then a third on the other side of the Passage, at the reedbed. Which led me to reckon that the area of the wood behind the reeds is one i have never really explored. Why not?

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The understorey is thinner, and the ground is thick with pine needles.
Holly, birch and hazel. A snapped pine – full of Woodpecker holes.
Several fallen trees. It’s blissfully quiet and worth spending more time in. The wood reveals new secrets.
At least two more Firecrests. A startled Wren and some Blackbirds. I disturbed a Song Thrush, and the squirrels shouted at me.

 

At the top of the clearing, half a dozen Crows are harassing something? A Kestrel.
There’s a Buzzard up – very early – and a few Stock Doves about.

Standing here quietly for 15 minutes, watching the finch flock and the thrushes, I come to realise my feet are cold. The sun s up there, shining on the trees and the track up by the seat, but it is not here yet. There’s a bright half moon up to the west.
The season is gently changing. I am touched by the humility and wonder of this remarkable place, and the privilege of being able to spend so much time here alone.

Watching the deer watching me. A ‘family group’ I think. Male, moulting heavily. A female and a charming fawn. They move off with no haste or fear.

On the way out, up the track, I was taken by surprise by a Grey Wagtail that flew up from ‘the puddle’ where the stream emerges. First time I have seen one on the ground in here. Technically, I didn’t SEE it on the ground as it flew at me and went up over the clearing. evertheless, unusual. Great birds too. Always a pleasure to see.

37 bird species. Very encouraging.
Too early in the day and too cold yet for butterflies and darters.

 

28 September 2018

2018 / 65

14:00 – 16:00
Beautiful bright autumnal afternoon. Crisp light, warm 19°C in the sunshine

Except for the varying wind – today quite breezy from the north-west – weather conditions have remained glorious all week. Overnight temperatures below 5°C with fog lifting by mid-morning and temperatures up to 20°C.

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The Big Sky. View north from the farmland, over the Roughs and beyond

I think that’s holding back the transitioning weather.
We seem to be in some kind of interlude…

Virtually no bird activity down through Woodside and into the Wood from the west.
All is quiet, and the wind is doing little favours to anything other than raptors it would seem. During the course of my circuit today I had four Buzzards – a new pale individual has arrived – a Sparrowhawk, two Hobbies and four Ravens. FOUR Ravens.
I picked up two circling high over the Wood from the track on the south side, and watched them slowly moving east, followed immediately by a third that came lower and climbed to join the others. As these moved off, over Asda and Hicknor Hill, a fourth bird came in from the west and hung around a few minutes, circling and offering superb views in the afternoon sunshine. I think a juvenile bird. It showed distinctly brown under the wings especially, and the body also seemed brown and quite pale. A family group.

The Hobbies are still here, and I had just emerged onto the track from the Chilworth pines when they started calling. Visible form the seat whizzing around at the woodland edge, but breathtaking from the track on the north side. I spend 45 minutes standing inside the cleared area just watching these two princes. They were initially perched separately in tree tops calling to one another, taking it in turns to circle over the heath and return. Then flying off together, very low, scarcely at times above head height! Chasing, diving, soaring – just flying for the sheer joy of flight, and constantly calling.
At one point I watched them tumbling in a ‘play fight’ over the northern belt, then jostling to see which bird could get the highest vantage point at the very tippy top of the tree. Climbing over one another, squabbling, squealing.
This is unique birding experience for me, and brings in to sharp focus just how special this woodland has become. I can think of no other single place that has delivered the Never Moments of the past couple of years with Hobby, Nightjar, Firecrest and Raven.
And those are just the A-list…

Firecrests were incidental today. I had one calling and one singing in the otherwise silent Chilworth Pines (GSW x2, Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Wren Robin and Chaffinch)

While watching the Hobbies, I became aware that Mistle Thrush numbers are increasing. 12 birds flew together out of one Yew Tree in a noisy flock, returning singly over the following 20 minutes. Also small groups of Stock Doves all moving north – 8, 6, 4 and some individuals. 20-25 birds. Still half a dozen Chiffchaff present.
Highlight was a Meadow Pipit overhead – the only sign of any visible migration. Presumably what was a second bird also went over when I got back to the path and scanned the farmland on my way back. Only the second record this year!
Here too were buzzards, and a large flock of 200 mixed corvids. They move like smoke…

The ash trees on Marshalls Row make me smile.
Such elegant trees, with their supermodel limbs

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There is an equally splendid Chestnut dropping prickly seed cases on to west end of the rear track, and an oak at the top of the footpath that stands majestic as one approaches from this direction.

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Woodside, Chilworth. The “back way”

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Marshalls Row. Roman road (course of)

On Marshalls Row today: one male Southern Hawker; at least three Common Darter, and two Speckled Woods.

 

25 September 2018

2018 / 64

14:00 – 16:00
Beautiful bright autumnal afternoon. Crisp light, warm 19°C in the sunshine

I went today looking for a feeling. A sign.
Perhaps I should have expected the Wood’s indifference.
She cares little for the affairs of man.

Having spoken at length this evening to my police officer friend, I have learned the unfortunate man did not take his life in Hut Wood at all, but a mile or two further east, in the woodland described by the OS Map as ‘Home Wood’ which extends between Chestnut Avenue and Stoneham Park. It is a random collection of belts and stands of trees, plantations and small copses through which I have walked once or twice. Most of it falls into the grounds of private fishing lakes.
The location was described incorrectly in both police and press reports…

Instead, this Wood is in magnificent form at the moment. Seasonal splendour.
The transition is slow in the current warm weather. Still rich with green, and full of flies, bees, darters and still some butterflies. A dozen Speckled Woods on my circuit today, and 2 Large Whites.

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Every avenue seems uncertain
This film beam plays across your hands
Some day I know you’ll change your place in here
Don’t let the sunset make you sad
In this jungle
In this jungle
The walls and the streets dissolve, I see
Rooms are all overgrown with leaf
Outside the sky’s so bright
We step out in the haze
Time and time again
In this jungle
In this jungle
In this jungle
(This Jungle, by John Foxx. From THE GARDEN LP released on this date in 1981)

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The Hobbies are still here. Like sentinels, atop their favoured Corsican Pine, today facing opposite directions. Maximum surveillance. One ventured out over the farmland later, clearing out the 100 or so Hirundines feeding on the rising insects above the grass. 75 Swallows and 25 House Martins. Brownish young ones, lacking the crisp white rumps. Fledgling Swallows without tail streamers.
Half an hour later still, and both Hobbies were vocal and on the wing. Right overhead, along the north side of the track. Fantastic views of birds just flying for the fun of it. Rolling, chasing. Diving and dancing.

Also today two Buzzards and 3-4 Mistle Thrushes in the middle.
Half a dozen Chiffchaffs I think, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. One Treecreeper and a handful of Brief Encounters with ‘some’ Firecrests

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There’s’ a change in the green of the leaf,
And a change in the strength of the tree

(John Ruskin. Canzonet, 1876)

 

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22 September 2018

Hampshire Constabulary News Update

Police searching for missing Shaun Talbot from Chandler’s Ford can confirm that the body of a man has been found in Hut Wood, in Chandler’s Ford, yesterday afternoon (September 22).

The family of 51-year-old Mr Talbot have been informed of the discovery but formal identification procedures are still ongoing.
The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage and a file is being prepared for the coroner.

***

How do I feel about this?

It’s not about me. No of course, I get that profoundly. But I can’t help feeling about it.
Saddened. Anxious. Upset?
Further reports suggest the man was last seen leaving the Cricketer’s Arms in between 2.30pm and 3pm on September 4. Has he been in the Wood all that time?

Two things bother me in particular.
Did I see him?
No – that’s for sure. He is not going to be the man with the border terrier who looked at me too long…?
If he WAS dead in the wood for a while – how did I not find him?

Are people trying to establish his last known movements?
I was last here on 17th – perhaps he was still alive then but not somewhere else?

If he was walking in the wood and I had met him, perhaps a conversation might have helped? Engaging with the wood can be the most spiritually uplifting experience and certainly helps me retain balance and perspective.

I have a friend in the Eastleigh Police Force. I will talk to him for advice.

Does the Wood feel violated? Will it be disturbed?
The trees develop history and lore – what will they share?
What atmosphere will linger – and for how long?