Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Knole in September

I set the alarm for 6.30am today and set off for Knole Park. It was just getting light - the streetlamps were winking off as I went by, and sunshafts lasered through the trees down on Seal Hollow Road. First surprise of the day was that the 'hole in the wall' door into the park had been replaced - gone was the semi-rotten one and in its place a spanking new affair with a fancy locking mechanism. Nice.

Knole being very hilly, much of it was still in shadow when I arrived, hence this somewhat Serengeti-esque Fallow Deer shot.

Many of the does had fawns in tow, quite well-grown now but not beyond needing the occasional deer equivalent of a cuddle from Mum.

As usual, there were lots of Green Woodpeckers about, probing the many anthills and flying off with peals of laughter whenever a hapless photographer with no teleconverter got within half a mile of them. To get good Green Woodie pics I'll have to either sharpen up the fieldcraft - a lot - or find somewhere else to photograph them.

But Jackdaws - now you're talking. This one flew in a big lazy loop within comfortable photographic range, then did it again in case I'd missed him the first time. Besides the many Jackdaws, there were also plenty of Jays in the park, most of them busily ferrying acorns to and fro.

Close to the house, a party of Mistle Thrushes was moving about between the trees. I think there were five of them. They 'rattled' to each other as they flew, but without the same machine-gun force of the anti-predator rattle they produce in the breeding season.

There was some evidence of migration. About 40 Swallows went over in dribs and drabs - all the ones I got a look at seemed to be youngsters with no long tail streamers. I heard the reversed 'weehoot' call of juvenile Chiffchafffs in a few places, and heard one Willow Warbler delivering a very hesitant and melancholy song.

Not a migrant. This handsome boy was strutting about close to the house, and was quite unperturbed when I walked up to him and started taking pictures. Unless that's an expression of shock and outrage.

The park is full of Ring-necked Parakeets, shrieking away and flying among the treetops on those long falcon-like wings. I did take sharper photos than this but I really like the mad tail action.

Smaller birds were around but difficult to photograph. I saw and heard numerous Nuthatches, a couple of Great Spots, the usual tits and finches and several Pied Wagtails, one of them furiously seeing off first a Skylark then a Meadow Pipit. When the leaves drop things will get a bit easier. It will also help when I have my teleconverter... but since they just called to let me know it's currently out of stock, I guess I'll be waiting a while longer.

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