MORNING WALK INTO YEO VALLEY
WEATHER: Clear sky to start, cloudy with sunny spells later, very little wind. Temp 17C
It was a much better morning today, the sky was practically cloudless when I first set off but more importantly there was no wind, the trees were perfectly still. At the beginning of the track a Green Woodpecker flew from one telegraph pole to another, but he never waited for me to get prepared for a photo session, off went the impatient noisy beggar.
the gateway to the Valley and the poles where the Green Woodpecker was sitting
I heard Blackbird, Blackcap and Wren during the first part of the walk, a Collared Dove was cooing and a single Swift flew over. A little further along the track I saw a Dunnock, then a Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared for a brief encounter, a second Wren was singing and a Pheasant called from the wheat field on the other side of the stream.
On the stream I found a little flotilla of Mallards. There were five of them, three females, an eclipsed male and a juvenile, this is the largest number of Mallards I have seen on the stream. As I left the Mallards a Nuthatch starling calling ahead of me but I could not locate it in the dense canopy.
four of the five Mallards
A third Wren called and I could hear a Song Thrush singing from way down in the valley and I knew exactly where he would be sitting, a pheasant flushed from the grass ahead of me and flew over the stream into the wheat field to join his mate.
As I approached the confluence of the stream and the River Yeo I watched a family party of Blue Tits and the sun finally shone, a large patch of blue sky was above me, but not for long. I saw the Song Thrush in his usual place before I set off along the river bank towards Rook’s Hill and the bramble slope.
Looking back to the meadow-side of Rook's Hill, it is much steeper on the other side behind those trees
After I couple of hundred meters I saw movement down by the riverside and glancing down I saw an American Mink. All black with a white chin it starred at me for a few seconds and began to walk along a fallen tree. I quickly walked back for about 50 meters, set up my scope, focused it on a shingle bank and as I got my phone out of pocket the Mink walked onto the shingle. It hurried along and disappeared into some undergrowth, it was quick for me. I tried a second manoeuvre but he never showed again. This is the third encounter \i have had with a Mink along this river, the last was a lght shade of brown and was definitely a different individual. It is a shame that we have mink here because they tend to kill Water Voles and anything else they can get their teeth into.
This mighty bird of prey flew down into the grass and pounced on a ...................earth worm. Common Buzzard
By 7:30am I was around at the bramble slope where I heard Wren number 5, Blackbird number two and I saw Great Spotted Woodpecker number 3. It was lovely just standing watching the activity on the slope. Two Blackcaps were singing from either end, a Chiffchaff sang from quite close to me and both Blue Tits and Great Tits fed in small groups. I was hoping for a Long-tailed Tit flock, but one did not materialise.
With such nice still conditions a few butterflies were on the wing, I saw a lovely fresh-looking Comma sitting on some sheep’s poo, it was taking on board salts and minerals, how nice. I then found my first Small Copper of the season and lots of Meadow Browns
Comma Butterfly on sheep's poo!! Yum, yum.
As I climbed up the steep slope of Rook’s Hill I scanned the oak canopies and the bramble flowerheads for Purple Hairstreak butterflies without much luck, a consolation was the sighting of a Eurasian Sparrowhawk which is number 72 on my July species count.
As usual it clouded over and a breeze picked up, that was my cue to leave and so I did. It was almost 10am when I got back, I had been out nearly 4 hours, where had all those hours gone!!!