Tuesday, 23 December 2014
If you go down to the woods today...
We were the only people around the entire of Foxley Wood yesterday, not another soul to be seen. Although it seemed like the trees themselves were possessed in the wind, creaking and rattling together like nothing so much as bones. We were mindful to try to keep away from the hanging branches; so many had snapped in the strong winds and were drooping down to the floor, held on by only a strip of bark.
It was far too blustery to see any birds of prey, and the woods were eerily quiet, barely any birdsong or evidence of any animal, although our keen eyes, now trained to look for hints of animals passing as well as the animals themselves, picked out a few tell tale signs.
I picked out the white rumps of two bullfinches as they flew away from the sounds of our approaching footsteps or the sight of our approaching silhouettes. Against the white, blanket cloud covered sky, I also picked out the dark silhouettes of several tree creepers flitting from tree to tree, their relatively streamlined shapes helping them in their efforts against the wind. My hunch was further clarified by finding two of these 'little brown birds', which I had only a fleeting glimpse of, and watching them wind their way up the swaying tree trunks.
As we delved further into the woods, we could hear the chinking alarm calls of blackbirds that we had accidentally disturbed, and could make out the occasional bird; wood pigeons sitting at the tops of trees silently waiting, then clattering off when we approached, or they had seen some phantom predator. The occasional miniature flock of blue and/or great tits trying to keep in the cover of the canopy, rather than risk being blown off course in the open. My husband spotted deer tracks in the mud, probably a roe deer, and I spotted the footprints of a large bird (probably a gull).
Not the greatest wildlife spotting adventure, but you don't always need to see 'them' in the flesh to enjoy a walk through the woods, and know that they are there somewhere, probably watching you from their far more sensible hiding places than walking through the woods, out in the open, blundering through a gale.