Sunday, 22 January 2017

2. Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe

The Sun’s rays scattered by ice covered glass and grass turned into cake 
frosting; white, hard and crunchy under foot, it was a frosty winter’s morning in Norfolk. Parking at the medieval church in the village, birds could be heard calling from the suburban trees, surrounding fields and woodland. The short walk to the reserve was pleasant, a small distance along the road, then a public footpath along the perimeter of a field. The mixture of open landscape and woodland was a contrast that seemed popular with local birds of prey. A pair of buzzards took flight, greeting us upon entering the woodland over a small bridge. No sooner had we entered the woodland, and we were surrounded by smaller woodland birds calling and scattering, as well as a few chattering grey squirrels and a roe deer, before it caught sight of us. The tiny goldcrest imperceptibly moving from twig to twig and a treecreeper, somewhat more confiding, winding its way up the bark of trees nearby. 

Following the NWT arrows took us around the edge of this small reserve, with robins, blue- and great tits traversing the walkways ahead of us. Great spotted woodpeckers could be heard calling, but did not make themselves known by sight. A kestrel silently glided, carving the skyscape with long tail and arrow like wings, landing gracefully in the bare canopy. The coppiced trees provide ample cover for small birds with their almost impenetrable vertical swords of thin branches, closely packed. Larger trees twisted their gnarled trunks skyward, their asymmetry pleasing to the eye. Every tree, it seemed, filled with the calls and songs of woodland birds. As we completed the trail, a treecreeper was again at the entrance to bid us farewell.

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