7 August 2019

2019 / 66

Mostly clear sky and light SW wind, after some heavy showers. Mild evening 19°C
19:45 – 21:45 (with Alison Hughes)

It’s been nearly two weeks.
The Wood is rich and green, verdant in the summer evening light of the setting sun.
Returning brings with it deep, slow breathing and a strengthening sense of calm during these turbulent times. I’ve been to Norfolk in between visits too, revisiting old haunts and discovering the delights of The Broads. Work is busy, domestic life unsettling and stressful. Walk, talk and breathe…

Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Buzzard at the eastern clearfell, the former in iconic silhouette on a dead tree against the troubled sky.

It should have been quiet and peaceful, and for the most part the Wood’s dignity held its own, but the atmosphere was torn and spoiled by the presence of three young men with Moto-X bikes. They were up by the viewpoint, and tearing round the track in turns on two very noisy and smelly machines. Audible from everywhere, and to avoid being run over for a third time, or sprayed with mud, or otherwise jeered at – we headed right Where The Tracks Join and down round the West Wood into Marshalls. Quite a significant view from here, but it has narrowed this year in particular since the firs started to grow faster.

We cut back through the Chilworth Pines where the quiet has come to hide, and it felt extraordinarily peaceful here. A delight to share and just ‘be’. Among bats too. At least three circling around among the trees  and coming over our heads. Probably Pipistrelles, but in the enclosed space they seemed like a much larger species?
Two Green Woodpeckers passed through calling together, and there were still Nuthatch, Wren, Robin and Dunnock active. The first Common Earthballs (Scleroderma citrinum) have emerged – quite a few, including a dozen or more close together.
And what’s that other noise, that squealing? A Tawny Owl. I think it’s moving.
Must have seen us, she’s moved off. Further away now, listen.
At least I think it’s a female.

As I had hoped, the bikes had moved offsite by the time we got down to the track again, and it was already getting quite dark. Sunset tonight back to 20:42 I was hopeful of Nightjar, though they are hard work when not churring. One flew over our heads as we descended from the viewpoint to Where The Tracks Join! Jerky, paper plane movement, fast and low, disappearing in an instant. Possibly the same bird, but probably a different one, was up and flying around (again briefly) at the territory.
And moments later, the Hobbies obliged. Still here, still noisy. And still invisible!

It is a tremendous encouragement for me to observe the increasing number of corvids now using the ‘new’ roost in the northern belt. As we descended, just moment after seeing the first Nightjar, a ‘cloud’ of corvids came in from the west, shrieking, chattering and whiffling around. A delight for Alison, entirely new to seeing this kind of behaviour. I estimate at least 400 birds in this first battalion, and others joined them over the next half hour or so. By the time we arrived at the site, there were among the trees and very, very loud. Standing here also gave us a good chance to see the moon, a perfect half, and glowing in restful and pastoral golden light. Two planets up (thanks for the Sky App!). Jupiter straight ahead of us (due south) and Saturn to the south-east, a degree or three lower in the sky.

Passing clouds overhead, dimly lit by the moon. the softest of edges, the the thinnest wisps of drifting vapour ahead of the next storm. It’s raining hard now as I write this, an hour after getting home.

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