15 January 2020

2020 / 03

13:15 – 15:15
Bright and sunny spell after more prolonged heavy rain and cloud.
Wind cold 3-4 SW, and temperature down to 5 – 6°C in the shade


Descending the slope down through the Chilworth Pines, picking my way over slippery logs and tangled briar, out onto the south side of the Track into bright sunshine.
Feels like the first time in ages I have stood here watching light, appreciating light, and breathing in the blue sky that drifts overhead.

“Hey there, Mister Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you…”

There is an uplifting background chorus of birdsong all around – and Great Tits  in particular seem especially active. There are two pairs just above me, in a holly bush, busy with flirting and courtship. Great Spotted Woodpecker calling, and a couple of equally vociferous Nuthatches. Just a single Firecrest that stayed elusive, on the winding path near the Bole.

The track is VERY wet, and surface water is running off both sides and standing ankle deep in the middle. I can hear the water, and notice that channels that I have never seen carrying water before run form here into the two stream courses that traverse the clearfell. On the opposite side, the natural ‘ditch’ that runs along the northern edge of the track is full, and water is running off the clearfell here through the long grass. Its moving quite fast down the track too, making its way towards the gushing and fast flowing stream at the bottom.

Above, in the light blue, a single Herring Gull is circling overhead. A sub-adult bird, probably in its third year or possibly fourth given the amount of brown flight feathers.



Firecrest Alley is darker than I would have liked, and disappointingly cold. Its past 2pm and the low sun can’t quite reach into here. One Firecrest called back to me but would not be lured out in the open so I didn’t try too hard, and instead cut through across the deep stream onto the clearfell itself. Through the lovely curtain of holly – a favourite place.



Lots of pools of water took some careful navigating.
So much easier to fly across, like this freshly emerged Queen Buff-tailed Bumble Bee, looking for a new nest hole…
And I have come to the north side, where the sun does fall on the Passage, lined with holly and gorse, and the south facing side of the Northern Belt. This is where I anticipated the Firecrests being the most active, andI am sure they will be. Its the first watch here this year, and I had not accounted for the wind. The sky might be open and blue, and the light is good and clear, but gosh its chilly. There’s not much moving, except for a large (30+) party of Redwings in the larches. In fact, there are various birds moving high up in the trees, including 3 Siskins. But no sooner had they settled, in a bright orange alder, but they were off – disturbed by a patrolling Sparrowhawk. A male – made me think that’s a first time I have one settled, showing well, in an exposed tree…?
The presence of two young birds last summer made me wonder if they do breed in here after all.
Jolly elusive if so?

Honeysuckle “woodbine” (Lonicera periclymenum) is doing really well, and emerging strongly into new leaf. Excellent news for the White Admiral, as this is the sole foodplant of the caterpillars.


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