Saturday, 30 January 2016

A first

You may recall that last weekend I let you about to head off to Bentley Wood again. Well, in a Rose-first, we didn't get lost getting there or walking in it!

It was extremely muddy places, so we mostly stuck to the main tracks, exploring a part of the wood we hadn't done so before. This took us through mixed woodland, including numerous stands of hazel, bedecked in their wonderful yellow-green lambs' tails (catkins) - a sign of spring on the way. These are the male part of the tree, with the female part (the bit that will eventually produce the wonderful nuts) forming relatively inconspicuous reddish tufts close to the branches.

Continuing on, we came to the edge of the wood and followed the muddy path south. This took us alongside what appeared to be Saxon earth boundary banks, indicating the ancient origins of the woodland, probably divided into parcels between the local populace. Several ancient yews also emerged from the woods - I believe in this part of the country these were mostly planted several hundred years ago - a further testament to the long use of the countryside here.

On another occasion this week, I was driving through the New Forest on my way back from a meeting - I know that the Forest is pretty much stuffed with deer (having seen many over the years) but I was surprised to be able to make out a herd of fallow deer through the fence on the main road from Cadnam to Lyndhurst. I just happened to glance that way as I was driving along at 60mph - how many people would have missed them? A privileged view.

And now I'm writing this part-way through the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch - I know I should be watching the garden (that's the whole point) but as not one bird has deigned to show itself so far, I'm making other use of the time! I think my 'problem' is that there is so much great habitat for them elsewhere, and there are so many cats around, that there's not much point venturing further afield- if I was a bird, I wouldn't bother either! saying that, I have seen several species in the garden - perhaps they're all out enjoying the sun?!

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