2018 / 77
13:30 – 15:30
Mild 13°C but seasonally unpredictable. Heavy rain showers between blustery sunny spells. Strong S- SW winds (30-40mph)
A delightful palette now of broad-leaved yellows and rich evergreens, bronzed and copper bracken and splashes of grey drizzle.
The track at the bottom of Marshalls Row is collecting surface water and becoming claggy underfoot. There is little venturing off the ground on the exposed farmland, just a few ragged Rooks drifting in from the west. Random pigeons travelling in no particular direction. Scanning from the pylons, I am being watched by a crisp male Pheasant, sharply defined against the misted grass. Upright and alert, as if he has emerged from under the ground itself. In the distance, beyond the hedgerow among the corvids, four Black-headed Gulls are battling the oncoming wind.
Little sound too above the rush of the wind in the treetops and the presence of Jackdaws.
I seldom come into the Wood when the wind is visiting, and from the south today it carries a lot of traffic noise. The pines stand patient, not unduly perturbed, but the birches in the cleared area flex and swish. It is raining golden leaves – swirling at height in exposed areas and, on the south side, skittering across the track as if propelled by rolling, like marbles down a slope. It is like a crowd scene, everyone rushing in the same direction. The chestnuts, first to turn, are almost naked now. There’s a scattering of finches when a Sparrowhawk dives in, Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush sounding the alarm. Only a half dozen Redwing around today.
The most sheltered part of the circuit is at the bottom of the crossing, where somehow the wind can’t reach from its preferred direction. I come across the first evidence that there are small birds active within the trees. I see only glimpses and hear persistent calls. Long-tailed Tits. Overhead, easy to count and nearly 20 in this group, but once in the trees they are restless and gone – here and there without pause.
A Jay and ‘some’ Coal Tits.
My ankle hurts, and it has just started to rain properly. The walking up the crossing will be a slog.
I’m tired now, and it’s been a busy week.
In this season’s new style, the trees look taller.
Back at the descent towards Marshall’s, there are more tits. A larger group of 40. For a few minutes, I am watching birds. Here are Goldcrests too, at least three. Equally noisy. And higher, a Treecreeper for a pleasant change. I am minded to look out for these next year – they seem almost impossible to find? I shall call these two broken birches The Silver Twins, for cartographic purposes. There is a line of Woodpecker nest holes. The stump on the left looks like a flute.
Robert Macfarlane (9 November 2018) Words of the day: “The Watchful Tree” – folk-name given variously to the silver birch & the aspen, because of the ‘eyes’ that seem to gaze from these trees’ trunks – formed either by natural bark-markings, or the healed lesions left by dropped branches.
Still a few Fly Agaric under the small trees beside the path here. One large flat one, opened out to a full 5″ across. Two more, three. Smaller and still domed.
I am walking back up Woodside with some difficulty and not without irritation. There is a hard, angular ‘something’ in my right boot and the muscle around my left ankle is causing me to wince and wobble on the sharply cambered road.