So after a slight frost and misty murkiness at 7am (dawn was nearer 6am to be honest):-
276 - Reed Bunting (female) along the little ditch/stream along the fields to the north
277 - Meadow Pipit - single bird calling as it flew over the fields
278 - Crossbill - just the one - flew over (calling) between the wet woodland and the Castle's conifers (while I was looking at some interesting hoof prints in the maize field mud - probably those pesky Red Deer again).
279 - Moorhen - calling just inside the wet woodland ..... and square.
FOUR new birds? Unheard of! ........ plus
Green Sandpiper - flew off the same patch of mud on the bend of the stream as before
Fieldfares - still chuckering away in the trees.
Common Snipe - two flew up
Common Buzzard - 3 soaring on thermals late morning
280 - Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula (left) 1st one pushing up on the plot already ........ but not normally just there .......
281- Viper's Bugloss Echium vulgare (left) - edge of old bonfire heap in the parking area at the plot. Thought it was here ..... somewhere.
- Field Pansy Viola arvensis - (left) - quite a lot in the maize field on bare ground
283 - Red-veined Dock Rumex sanguineus - along the bridleway
284 - Common Shrew - Sorex araneus - plus two others chasing/fighting each other in and out of dry leaf-litter under a warm, sunny hedgerow near the Castle bridleway
285 - Black garden ant Lasius niger - in the wild flower bank
286 - Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae (left) - ironically just basking there on grass and inspecting nettles in the top meadow at the plot ..... just after getting back from my lunchtime amble around the whole square to try and find the first one (for TQ6410).
287 - Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus - hibernating under a brick - first one I lifted up in a casual search for woodlice and slugs ..... oh well, it'll have to do!
288 - Badger Meles meles - trotted out of a bramble patch on the plot at dusk while I was walking around scoffing toast with peanut butter on .... coincidence?? Seconds later I heard a vixen screaming at the top of the meadow.
Last but not least, in the gathering gloom and darkness, I walked up towards the little bluebell wood to try and spot a long, lost, local Barn Owl, possibly hunting somewhere in the shallow valley (not seen it since September). No luck - but a pair of bats were flying around the top corner of my plot. Then suddenly ...... a Tawny sailed silently over my head, straight as a dye at about 30'! No new tick but a wonderful end to the day.
p.s. ones that got away:
 tiny beetle in wild flower bank, very narrow - red-back-red abdomen was all I could remember .... less than a third the size of an earwig maybe?
 mating pair of ladybirds - tiny again - but they looked fairly normal otherwise
 pair of bats top corner of the meadow. Got to borrow that detector .....
 And all this old stuff - on old logs .... sycamore or sweet chestnut? Fungi? Not got a clue!
288 species .... and a memorable spring day .......
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