Sunday, 2 March 2014

Foxley Wood

Foxley wood is one of my favourite places to go in Norfolk. Slightly off the beaten track, it is never busy, even at weekends. In spring there are beautiful swathes of bluebells as far as the eye can see in some areas. At this time of year the flora is rather bare, but it is almost buzzing with signs that spring is around the corner.

As soon as we stepped out of the car, an enormous shadow passed overhead, and before I had chance to ready my camera, a buzzard lazily glided from side to side above us until he was too far away to see. For once, I was not appropriately dressed for the conditions. I have never seen the paths as wet and muddy as they were today, so off we went, with me slipping and sliding at every opportunity...

As soon as we were surrounded by woodland on all sides, the trees came to life with birdsong, mainly blue tits, great tits and robins, but there were a few I couldn't place.Looking up at the tree tops at all times, some movement caught our eye. It turned out to be a pair of redwings, the first I have seen all winter, and they will soon be heading back to Northern Europe to breed.

Roe deer track
Badger tracks
It turned out to be a blessing that the ground was so wet underfoot, my fiancĂ©’s keen eyes made out tracks below us as I kept my eyes trained on the tops of the trees. Before Christmas, I bought the 'RSPB Nature Tracker's Handbook' by Nick Baker, which I've been dying to try out. We found two distinct sets of tracks, one was definitely a deer, I think a Roe deer based on their shape and size. The other was something with five easily distinguishable toes, which we decided must be a badger. Thankfully, the wonderful people of iSpot ( agreed with us there!

There are certain areas of the wood that are regularly coppiced. This creates a rather alien and lunar-like landscape and I'm sure will generate some interesting biodiversity later in the year.

Hazel catkins
As we continued walking into the denser part of the woods, the damage done by the recent storms was very evident; twigs were strewn haphazardly across the floor and a number of entire trees had fallen across paths and into other trees. Hopefully with this amount of dead wood, the insect species diversity will be even better than usual...

On taking the last path that headed back to the carpark, I couldn't resist taking a photo of rather lovely looking catkins hanging from a small tree. At first, I was at a complete loss as to what they could be, but have now come realised that they must be hanging from a hazel tree.

In other news

At school this week, we have been keeping a close eye on activity in our bird box. The blue tits have certainly been visiting far more regularly; we have seen them in the afternoon in the box for the first time and they have been pecking at the entrance hole. Here is the diary that I and my tutor group have been keeping of their visits throughout the day.

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