10 October 2019

2019 / 80

0730 – 0930
Crisp autumn sunshine, 10-12°C. Wind light SW.

An unsettled period of sunshine and heavy showers, occasionally gusty wind


As you were.
Crows over, one or two, and occasional pigeons. Robinsong, and Wrens. A Chiffchaff in the low grass, probably eating spiders, and a single Mistle Thrush in one of the two Yews.
Light is lovely, but I have only my old phone and can’t photograph it well. Octoberlight is a special phenomena, crisp and clear but gentle on the fading leaves and the eyes of the beholder. The grass is damp – in fact everything is damp, heavy with dew and rain, but now glittering and all of a sparkle.

At the top of the track, long briars run along the ground like chains on a dock side. They connect the anchor trees, moored up against a sea of bracken.

Birds are much busier than this time last week, and everywhere things are flitting around feeding, calling and busy. There are Long-tailed, Blue, Coal and Great Tits all in this same clump, with Goldcrests and a Song Thrush. Something is calling right next to me, within just a few inches, and though i can watch the grass and leaves move as it passes, I don’t see the bird at all. I expect a young Robin, given the soft whistles. A barking deer crashes the moment, and as I look up 4 Chaffinches come down into the same tree as the Mistle Thrush. Then a young Sparrowhawk comes through along the edge and the skittering and calling intensifies for a few seconds.

In Q2 there is a noticeable lull in the traffic noise, and here birds are quieter too. It is peaceful, which is a blessing as I am carrying melancholy and a sadness this morning. Sometimes, when it is beautiful here, as it can especially be this time of year, I long for someone to share it with. Someone who will appreciate the inscape, the tranquility, the blessing and sanctuary of this wonderful place. Someone who sees the light as I do for what it is. I know people who would love this place, and benefit from it. I want this as much for their sake as my own, for it is unusual for me to want to walk with anyone at all. I But I feel it today – a loneliness and sense of disappointment.
I’m cutting into the back of the Wayleave today, down the adjacent deer path towards the chestnuts. The path is clear at low lever, but above the knees plants overhand both sides. Bracken and bramble. Anything about Muntjac height challenges me to choose whether I get wet or prickled. Wet wins everytime for I like the coolness on my skin. One sees less birds here in the more crowded places, but every few metres there are little clearings where the light pools and things scuttle out of sight. Secretive Song Thrushes for example are active this time of year. Stock Doves are increasingly wary.


Lovers come here too it seems. How long ago? Strangely (and I note this with some perplexity and irritation) there is more underwear hanging from a low branch.
The white fabric actually glows in the otherwise soft greens and browns of morning shade. A ‘trophy’ of some kind…? Shrug.

Ther eis a tangible tranquility about the Wood this morning. She is coming into her every best finery I think, as I too move towards my own favourite season.

It is cooler on the clearfell from the gorse gap, and the wind is over my left shoulder. South-east, though the forecast and prevailing conditions have been SW for a couple of weeks. Local anomaly.
There appears to be a little less activity out there this morning than last week. But perhaps the passing Buzzard revealed more then than needs to show today? I can see 4, 5 maybe 6 Mistle Thrushes, and even walking across the site I don’t think there are more thna 10 here. A handful of associating Redwings, but it is still too early for the main garrison to arrive. These heralds will stay a while and check out the berry crop. It looks good this year – plenty of Rowan and holly now turning bright.

2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers out, exchanging with 2 Jays crashing in. They really are not strong flyers. More like ‘gliding’ with style!! They spin and flap and squawk. Good acorn harvest I think, which would also explain why I have met at least a half dozen squirrels too on this circuit. There’s probably 80 finches this morning, in small groups, and most are Greenfinch. They are mysterious birds – where do they go in the summer, and why do they gather here after breeding? From the High Seat, I have lovely views of about ten birds, which I am enjoying when a rumpus to my right sends them off to join in. Another (or the same?) Sparrowhawk is cruising the neighbourhood, and everything changes places. He chases one Greenfinch, and I am lucky to actually pick this chase up in my bins. Such a great view, and at the right angle to get a flash of his yellow eye.
And Siskins too, calling as they pass overhead. Group of four.

But its on the south side, where the flycatchers were in the alder towards the east end, that the small bird activity is most intense. In just a couple of trees there is a flock of 40 somethings, including 3 or 4 really noisy Nuthatches. I can here a Treecreeper too, and pick up one or two straggling Willow Warblers. Best of all perhaps two loud and insistent Firecrests – one showing especially well.

“…a difficulty confronts the explorer who would carry away a note of what he has seen, because nature is not cut and dried to hand, nor easily classified, each subject shading gradually into another. In studying the ways, for instance, of so common a bird as the starling it cannot be separated from the farmhouse in the thatch of which it often
breeds, the rooks with whom it associates, or the friendly sheep upon whose backs it sometimes rides. Since the subjects are so closely connected, it is best, perhaps, to take the places they prefer for the convenience of division, and group them as far as possible in the districts they usually frequent.”
Richard Jeffries (Wild Life in a Southern County, 1879)

‘Abundant’ would describe the Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) in certain spots here now. Large clumps, spread all over. The appropriately named vernacular “Clustered Woodlover”


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