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Monday 2nd January 2017

Finally, the grey damp weather had cleared and I was greeted this morning by a ground frost, blue skies and sunshine.  These are the type of day's that make winter special.  So with uplifted spirits I headed to the Common only to find that every man and his dog had had the same idea.  I have always known that the area by the main visitors car park is popular with dog walkers, joggers and families with kids, especially at weekends but today took it to a whole new level.  The main car park, the car park opposite Cook's nursery and the one just past the Rush Pool were all full, as was the one by Poolands Farm.  So with this in mind (and a grumble under my breath) I decided to spend my time down at Hillditch Pool & Coppice.   Note to self:  A sunny bank holiday is perhaps not the best time to pay a visit to the common.

On arriving at the pull in by Hillditch Pool I was immediately struck by how quiet it was.  Not another car or person in sight.  I could begin my mooching about and recording in peace!   First thing that I noticed on my walk was a number of Holly leaves had the mines of the Holly Leaf Miner fly (Phytomyza ilicus).  These mines are actually caused by the larva of the fly burrowing through the leaf and feeding on the leaf from on the inside.

Mines of the Holly Leaf Miner (Phytomyza ilicus)

Also whilst I was at Hillditch I added a few more birds to my site year list with Pied Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker all welcome additions.  In fact I was about to take a picture of the Green Woodpecker perched lovely on a fence post in the sunlight when it was flushed by a ♀ Sparrowhawk coming through.  Shame about the missed photo opportunity but I will take a Sparrowhawk thank you very much!   The only other new species of bird recorded today for the list were 4 Black-headed Gulls that flew over heading west and 5 Mallards that were on the pool.

Mole becomes an addition to the mammal list as there were some quite fresh mole hills along the patch next to the pool.  Contrary to popular belief Moles do not hibernate in the winter but tend to excavate their burrows deeper below the level of the frozen ground.

As I was mooching about I came across a stunning Geulder Rose whose berries were looking radiant in the sunshine.  All that was needed was for one of the Waxwings that are kicking about in the county to drop in for a feed.  Sadly this didn't happen but one can live in hope! there's always the next time!

Berries of the Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)

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