Dorset - We`ve spent the past couple of days in Maiden Newton, a small village to the west of Dorchester in what could best be described as classic Hardy country, so lots of cutsie, chocolate-box thatched cottages and smelly dairy farms. The rolling chalk downland, fast flowing streams with hedgerows and copses all over the place are in complete contrast to the topography back home on the shingle, and of course the wildlife is different too. The weather has also bucked up with clear skies and light airs replacing the blasting wind and showers back east.
Wandering around the lanes and tracks birds seemed to be everywhere with plenty of Redwings and a few Fieldfares already plundering the rich harvest of hedgerow berries, amongst the abundant Song Thrushes and Blackbirds. Finches and buntings were well represented, including Bullfinches and Yellowhammers, two birds I rarely see at home, along with Grey Wagtails along the river Hook.
But the main difference was at night time with a cacophony of Tawny Owls in the river valley trees. At this time of year the adults are re-establishing their winter territories and chivvying juvenile birds away to find their own patch. There must be a reasonable population hereabouts as the kerfuffle continued throughout the night.
This morning we walked the river valley where more wagtails and wayside birds noted, plus 12 Siskins feeding on alders and singles of Kingfisher, Little Egret and Grey Heron along the watercourse, where the invasive Himalayan balsam was flourishing.
Up on the lynchetts Common Buzzards and Ravens were a given and there was even a light viz mig of Mipits, Skylarks and Chaffinches overhead. Best of all though was watching a family group of Roe Deer hugging the corner of a beech hangar, completely oblivious to our presence as we hunkered down in a hillside hollow.