Contains trees, birds, and a measure of leavetaking.
About an hour’s walk from here, a footpath follows the inside edge of a small wood at the edge of some common land. I love it there. I heard my first cuckoo there. There are old oaks, and tall silver birches, and always lots of birds.
To get to the wood, first cross the common, following the little path worn by bicycles and feet. The cows were grazing today, with attendant crows and jackdaws.
For dull-but-necessary work reasons today was the last time I’d be able to get to the wood for a while. It turned out to be a beautiful day for a walk. I was here in late January, when it was too cold to hold the camera for more than a couple of minutes, the light was dim, and the common was full of fieldfares. Two months later, the sun was high, the air was mild, and everything was greening, singing, nesting, busy.
I reached my favourite tree by the path and sat a few feet away among the rustle of last year’s leaves. The wood was full of birdsong. On this clip (with a link to @LevParikian, who’s been doing an extremely useful and entertaining daily series on identifying bird songs in recent weeks) near the start you can hear a raven – maybe the same one I heard in January – and a crow, and near the end a green woodpecker. A robin nearby sang every few seconds. There’s a chiffchaff in there somewhere; there were great tits and blue tits too. Not on this recording but definitely present among the trees were some long-tailed tits (quiet and high-pitched) and a wren (fortissimo opera).
Jackdaws flew overhead in chattering groups every now and again. At one point I heard the unforgettable mewing cry of a buzzard and turned to look out past the trees towards the fallow field nearby – and glimpsed three in a group, heading to more distant hunting grounds. As they left, a kestrel landed on the wires, and I watched it hunt successfully, diving into the grasses after a brief hover and then flying off quickly with whatever it had caught.
Touching the bark of the old oak before I leave has become a reflex action. Today I said byebye for a while. I’ll be back whenever I can visit.
Back along the fields full of skylarks. They’re soaring and singing and in full spring swing now.
And above them, briefly, before it wheeled away to the distant river and the rabbit-filled common that runs alongside it: a red kite.
*A nemophilist is a lover of forests, a haunter of woods – so said Susie Dent on Twitter this morning.