The walk began in a wide footpath with overgrown hedges. These were alive with birds doing what birds do in the spring, the lads showing off to the girls. Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Robin were everywhere. As were one of my favourite birds the classic Little Brown Job, the Dunnock. Normally fairly secretive, they do sing from perches as this one was. In the same bush were 2 others having a bit of a flirtatious time with their constant wing flicking, which is why some older people call this a Shufflewing.
Walking through the village to the woods, many chimney pots had Jackdaws nest building. I watched this pair for ages, as they were collecting nesting materiel from the roof. Lovely bit of pair bonding going on while the male passed items to the female. In the distance is a Rookery and this is where I was heading
But en route spotted this very common moss, Bryum capillare on a wall
This part of the walk took us past an ancient stone wall, absolutely covered in plants. I think I'll do another posting one day about the value of stone walls for wildlife, but for the moment a photo of Navelwort, named after the dimple in the centre of each leaf. This one was producing it's strange flower spike. Like all members of the sedum family these fleshy leaves store water and help it survive periods of drought, which is why it's often found on old stone walls growing in very little soil.
Speaking of water, this area has a spring fed water trough, so an arty shot of cold, spring derived water on a warm spring day.
Just around the corner from this we were greeted with a carpet of yellow Lesser Celendines in flower. It just lifts the spirits seeing this blast of colour.
But eventually we got into an ancient woodland. Quite an interesting place really, as although classic mixed deciduous Ash and Hazel woodland, at some point it must have been enclosed as there are old stone walls running through it, quite a bit of Laurel at one end and now seems to be used by mountain bikers. Which was interesting, the path snaking through the wood was wide and full of jumps, but off the path the woodland was pretty much as it should be.
Quite a bit of it seems to be coppiced and this gave a wonderful mix of lower and upper story habitats, but open for ground loving plants, such as these Violets, which were present in both blue and white form, or the Dogs-Mercury below.
Bluebells were starting to come through, Aliums, and a whole host of other plants, emerging into the spring sunshine, such as these Wood Anemonies, not quite in flower, but just as beautiful in the green.
The woods were absolutely alive with birds, usual Great and Blue Tits everywhere, but a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling, as were a pair of Jay's with their harsh call, though I never managed to get a good look at them. Which made me realise we'd now seen nearly every member of the Crow family on this walk, except Raven, Hooded Crow and Chough, and the latter two I'd not see in Dorset anyway...... more about this at the bottom of this posting.
I tried to get a decent photo of this Nuthatch, one of 2 on this tree, but it was a bit far away really. Oh well a record shot I suppose. They were calling continuously. One bird I didn't see was a Treecreeper which was slightly surprising, but we can't win them all.
I did however find a huge Badger Sett, with this entrance being very freshly dug out, or at least having a spring clean, so I know it's active and why I'm not saying where this walk was given the woods are also used by mountain bikers. Can't really see this in the photo but a lot of green vegetation was mixed into the spoil. It was while looking around the Badger domicile I spotted what I'm pretty certain is a common Carder-Bee, Bombus pascuorum. I should know this but there was something about it which made me think it wasn't.
We'd been out 2 hours now, so time to walk back home, which brought us back into the glorious sunshine, and past a lot of Mistletoe on fruit trees in a farm.
Finally back home we were relaxing with a cuppa in the garden, more Small Tortoiseshells there, when Baxter (who acts as tour guide on all our walks) heard a commotion overhead. Before even looking up, I knew what was going on as that deep Cronk Cronk was heard. 3 or 4 Carrion crow were hassling a Raven as it flew over the house. Quite a few Raven up on the ridges only a few miles as the crow flies from where I was. Brilliant, I couldn't recall seeing a Magpie today, but they're everywhere and often don't register, but that Raven meant that every Corvid possible in Dorset was seen in 3 hours, and a confirmed Magpie in the garden not long afterwards. Fantastic.
Certainly Baxter was very happy with his walk and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the garden. Well he only has little legs. There will be more from him later in the year, as he has his own blog now.