Down House , the home of Charles Darwin , which I am told , will be the UK's sole submission for World Heritage site status , in this the 200th. anniversary of his birth , was my target today , to do the bird survey , which along with all the other surveys , will form part of that submission .
It was a sunny but bitterly cold morning , and everything was quiet on site prior to the re-opening of the revamped displays in the house in two weeks time .
The bird count was very quiet as well with only 14 species recorded . The best of the day were two mall flocks of Winter Thrushes , both overflying , one of 9 Fieldfare and 1 Redwing , and the other of 11 Fieldfare . The second flock landed briefly in an Oak behind the cricket pavillion , but took off again almost immediately . I did manage a distant shot of the 'tail end Charlie' of this flock , but a second later , he too was gone . 2 Green and 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker were recorded , and it was also a low 2 for the ever present Rose Ringed Parakeets . Since my last visit , I noticed that the tree surgeons have done a large amount of work on their nesting tree , probably because it is on The Sandwalk , much walked by visitors to the site . It will be interesting to see if the RRPs use it this year , or choose another , of which there are many , trees with damage , making ideal nest holes . The rest of the sightings were the normal common species recorded on each visit , but I did have a very melancholy Mistle Thrush singing , but unfortunately he was outside the recording area .
In the orchard , amongst the fruit trees are a couple of Hazels , and probably because they are more protected , had much more advanced female flowers than those I posted yesterday . One of these female flowers was sure to be pollinated , as it was directly above the male catkin , and in this shot you can see the male flowers in the catkin , which produce the pollen .
Some might remember my encounter with the Jacobs sheep that had escaped onto the adjacent footpath . I tried to explain it's horns , but with the camera back , managed to get a shot of the strange configuration . Like at Rouse Farm , a few of the ewes have already had their lambs , and I promise this will be the last shots for the year of lambs .
I thought this last one hadn't made it , but with binoculars I could see it was breathing and shortly afterwards , it was bouncing along beside it's mum .
On the way home , I stopped off at the Common to make sure the fire left following yesterday's work day was OK . Always a problem leaving a fire on a public area , especially as this one was so close to a car park , but all was well . Whilst working there yesterday , another Wasp Spider egg sack was found . The light was not good then , so I went back and photographed it today . This one is lighter in colour than those found in previous years andis still 'plugged' at the top-open end . I will keep an eye on it in the Spring , and post any changes .
Finally , whilst walking in the sunshine , in areas where moss was growing , there appeared to be a carpet of red/orange , raised up above the green of the moss . I'm not sure if they are new shoots or flowers . Any ideas ?