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WEATHER; another crystal clear morning, clear sky to start, with a heavy ground frost. Temp 2 – 13C

I went for a short walk from 8am until 9:30am, I walked round the lane to the entrance gate into the valley and the first birds I watched were Bullfinches! A pair of them flew from the valley and out over the lane to a clump of brambles. I watched them dead-heading last year’s bramble flowers, there must be some nutritional value in them. The male Bullfinch posed nicely for me.

a lovely male Bullfinch on my patch this morning

I walked along the stream as far as the footbridge, I saw a single male Mallard and a pair of Mandarin Ducks. A Raven flew over and got a lot of abuse from a pair of Crows that had a nest nearby. A lot of bird song rang out in the lovely morning sunshine, it was beautiful out there today. Blackbird, Song and Mistle Thrush were all singing at the same time, talk about a cacophony of sound, it was hard to pick out which note belonged to which bird.

Other than seeing a couple of Long-tailed Tits and all the usual common resident species I saw very little, a distant Chiffchaff sang but there was no sign of Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher or any woodpeckers. I did see a pair of Treecreepers near the start of my walk and then at the point where I turned around and headed back I saw another three Treecreepers. A little squabble of was occurring, it was probably two males and one female.

On my way out of the valley I saw a Little Egret sitting high up in a tree and for once it didn’t see me first, so click, click.

When I got back home Dawn was ready to leave for our daily outing, we had decided to go to the Garden Centre at Bridport but first we were going for a walk at Lambert’s Castle which has become one of our favourite walks.

We parked along a narrow lane near the Castle and where a gate gave us access to a lovely piece of heathland. A walk around the heath produced sightings of Meadow Pipit, Linnet and a Yellowhammer. From the far side of the heath we walked along a track that led to the large orchard meadows and then onto the Castle compound.

a Yellowhammer

On the south and east side of the area you can walk along a ridge where you have outstanding views of the spectacular Marshwood Vale. We heard a Mistle Thrush singing and another Yellowhammer. I then saw a Common Cuckoo fly in front of us and disappear behind some trees, a quick search produced nothing.

Common Cuckoo

We sat on a bench and ate our picnic lunch, the sunshine was lost behind clouds and the chilly wind made it feel cold again. Then we heard a single call from the Cuckoo and a short walk from the bench produced a full-on sighting of the bird. Amazingly it stayed long enough for me to fire off some pictures before flying off high in a north-easterly direction.

there is a male Common Redstart in this picture somewhere!

A walk around the edge of the beech woodland produced sightings of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, we also heard a Nuthatch and then I heard the distinctive song of a Common Redstart. We tracked the bird down and as I set up my scope to take his picture he flew down, deeper into the tree from his perch at the top. I did relocate the bird but my pictures are of an obscured shape, so the picture above is just a record shot.

We left the castle around 2pm and drove into Bridport to visit a garden centre, you know what comes next……….. dozens of pound notes leave my wallet in a hurry, ouch!!!