If truth be told we are not very enamoured with our accommodation at the moment (we are moving on in the morning so no great problem) so we decided to go for another walk last evening and we were so pleased we did. We are on the route of the Avon valley path so we walked a little of it and enjoyed the evening light on the surrounding countryside. One of the first thing we saw was a buzzard perched up on a pylon, it was still there we when returned!
I am, to say the least not very brave when it comes to encounters with four-legged creatures, but I found it easy to deal with these little sweeties!
Now any bravery I do have disappears if I have to walk through a field of horses but fortunately this fella was behind a fence. First Ian said hello to him then…
he said hello back, well either that or he was laughing at us, either way that is quite a smile don’t you think?
Today we returned to Blashford Lakes and had a lovely day, this little Robin was helping to navigate us as we walked around most of the site and got an illusive Little gull which had been seen the last few days but not by us! We saw the fallow deer again but better views today. Blackcap were all in good voice, sitting up singing proudly.
Yesterday we were just looking at a Common sandpiper when the Red-rumped swallow showed and we were totally distracted so it was good to see it well today.
Talking about the swallow I forgot to tell you a funny story about it yesterday, when we were watching it a chap, obviously local and known to the other birders, came in to see it. He told us he had been in a local café with his wife having a cup of coffee when he had popped to the loo and his pager beeped. The message about the swallow caused him to rush out of the café unbeknown to his wife!!! As far as she knew he was still in the loo, she did phone him after a while causing laughter all around.
We are back in our rather basic room now but are checking out early in the morning as we are off in pursuit of a bird that will definitely be a life tick for us both,…watch this space!
What a difference a day makes, this morning was the total opposite to the previous one. We drove to Acre Down and had an excellent walk and saw some lovely birds including my favourite, a Wheatear, always makes my day! Add to that not only hearing but seeing a Cuckoo (excuse the poor photo but I was pleased to get one at all!) followed by a beautifully calling Willow warbler! A little bronze beetle crossed my path, hopefully we will identify it when we get home. Not bad that was two more year ticks before coffee time, although I don’t think we ever did get coffee yesterday now I think about it!
Of course the New Forrest id famous for its ponies but it shares the space with cows (more about one of them later) and in places donkey too!
After our visit to Acre Down we moved on, to Blackwater arboretum, approached via what is laughingly called an ornamental drive, I could think of a different name for it I think! We had hoped to see Crossbills there but were not lucky with them, we did however see some super birds including a couple of Redstarts and a lovely Firecrest.
After lunch we decided to return to Blashford Lakes to check if they had caught any interesting moths and to see what birds were around. It had been an extremely cold night and they had caught but one moth and not a very interesting one at that, sounded like many nights back home! We had seen Common terns the previous day in flight but now they were perching, much easier to see! Of course the ever faithful Robin was present, it is easy to take such birds for granted but aren’t they beauties?
We returned to the cottage and had decided that we would go out for a walk behind ‘our home’ as a farewell as in the morning we are off to pastures new. What a treat we had and here we come to the reason for todays title. We came upon a cow that had just given birth, she was an English White and had a male calf. The farmers, a couple who had been farming for many years and had a herd of about 90 cows on the heath and this one had wondered away from the rest a couple of days ago looking for a peaceful place to calf. They loaded the Mum onto a vehicle to get her back to the farm for some attention and later picked up the calf to carry him off too. But first we had quite a long chat about meat rearing etc. and it sounds as though cows like theirs have a far better life than many and in fact the calf will have a longer life than many, they said they keep theirs for four years before the inevitable end whereas many farms keep them about 18 months. Next we got on to the topic of milk production…something else to give serious thought to!
Now meet Oliver as yes I was invited to name him! It needed to be an O name and that was the first that came to my mind, probably sounds daft but it was a real treat!
Off for a good walk and views of the usual, Stonechats and Meadow pipits. We heard a Cuckoo call and almost immediately two flew in front of us, turned out to be a pretty good evening! Last trip outside the garden and a last look at the house in which our cottage stood.
Lack of internet means I have another day to add, I will then be caught us as this is todays report. Not many pictures but a few ticks! We left our cottage and said farewell to Ringwood and Blashford Lakes as we drove by and headed off to the pretty town of Fordingbridge and walked along by the river.
We saw a Grey wagtail but as neither of us had binoculars with us we were lucky to spot it, not till I looked at my photos did we realise there were a pair of them! Something flew out from the bank and to our delight it was a Sandpiper, we saw it several times and could see it was a Wood sandpiper, excellent another tick for our year. We were just about to go in for coffee when the pager alerted us to a Red-rumped swallow being at Blashford lakes, it would be a good tick for us both so we were off (I will be getting caffeine withdrawal symptoms soon!) On our arrival we discovered a lone birder had seen it and it had flown, agghhh! But wait, it was not too long before someone called it and indeed there it was, perched way out into the water but with scopes it was confirmed and all present go to see it that time. The warden was quickly fetched so he too could see it, I felt relieved for the chap who had first seen it as he was beginning to doubt himself! At the same place we also saw a Common sandpiper, our first Swift of the year and a distant group of Fallow deer.
As we were heading in Salisbury direction we decided to pay a fleeting visit to Stonehenge before going to our next place to stay. I feel it fair to say we are not quite so delighted to our present accommodation as our last!!! Maybe it will improve but as we are only here for two nights we will cope.
After saying our farewells at Godalming we decided to visit another WWT site this time at Arundel. Another beautiful day with blue skies and very warm, we were getting used to those conditions!
Arundel seemed to be a fairly small site compared to other WWT places we had been to previously but it was still a lovely place and had something to offer that the others hadn’t; a boat ride and it was included in the entrance price! It was definitely the highlight of the day we both enjoyed it so much we went on it twice. We got a year tick from the boat, not a bird but a snake! We saw something swimming in front of us and it turned out to be a small grass snake, first reptile of the year!
From the boat we had good views of a Peregrine falcon flying overhead along with several Buzzards and a Red kite. We saw nesting ducks, swans and geese as the boat went silently through the water. It also provided us with good views of Arundel castle looming in the background.
We’d had a lovely day as we set off for our next stop in the New Forrest a place neither Ian nor I have ever visited.
On our arrival we found a lovely little cottage set in a beautiful garden and at the bottom of the garden a gate led straight out into the ‘forest’ itself. A somewhat dramatic change in weather saw for day one saw rain, rain and more rain until about 6 o’clock when we ventured out for a brief walk. Ponies all around and yet more signs of spring.
Today has been a very mixed day and most of the morning is best forgotten! We did at one point put our destination into the satnav and were surprised when it announce that in a quarter of a mile we were to ‘board the ferry’ of well it made a change from driving!
The afternoon was spent at Blashford Lakes a wildlife trust site and what a lovely afternoon they provided! We added three ticks there, one bird, one mammal and one moth an excellent variety! Our first tick followed a chat with the warden about moths and he was able to show us our first Emperor moth, what a stunner, hope we get one of them in the garden one day.
We visited one hide which was surrounded by bird feeders so gave good views of all the typical feeder visitors including Siskin and one I was particularly pleased to get a picture of, a Redpoll.
We decided next to go for a good walk around the place as we seemed to have done an awful lot of sitting still today. We got back to the beginning quicker than anticipated so went down another track and into one more hide and we were pleased we did. We got a lovely sight of a Kingfisher, saw up to about 150 Swallows swooping over the water, got two Common terns (a year tick) and a little Bank vole another year tick.
I think it fair to say that our day did not begin perfectly but it certainly improved rapidly, I wonder what tomorrow will bring.