Sap Rising

Ben woke up early again, and once Ben’s awake nobody else can sleep for long. So I was out with Ben and Sam in the double-buggy fairly early this morning. As if to emphasise that fact the first person we passed was the milkman.

Along Stankelt Road the rooks were out in force, sitting in pairs on chimney pots and in trees crawing noisily. As we got close to Pointer Wood I could hear a woodpecker drumming, and as we followed the road along the edge of the wood the drumming got very loud, but although it must have been nearby I couldn’t see the woodpecker.

Somewhere close to where Stankelt Road becomes Slackwood Lane, Sam fell asleep. Ben, bless him, had hugged Sam until he dropped off. The road drops down a hill which gives great views over the yellow reed beds and Rorschach blob pools of Leighton Moss.

We turned into The Row, where we lived until a couple of years ago. This corner is another good place to find white violets, but I was so absorbed by Myer’s Allotment that I forgot to look for them. Myer’s Allotment is a field owned by a butterfly conservation group. It has open areas of grass and limestone, some mature trees and lots of scrubby thickets of thorny bushes and brambles. The topmost branches of two tall trees set well back from the road seemed to be festooned with rooks. But they were apparently sitting calmly and silently. Most unrooklike. The allotment was generally busy with birds. I could hear robins, thrushes and blackbirds singing, and probably lots of others too that my untutored ears can’t differentiate. The distinctive squawking of a pair of magpies made me turn to the golf-course on the other side of the road, and as I watched them wing across the fairway a similar, but less harsh call drew me back in time to see a jay coming in to land high in a tree. I waited expecting to see a second jay and very shortly my patience was rewarded. I was only bemoaning the fact that I haven’t seen any jays for ages over on Tom’s Blog last week and here they are! Another example of my desires made flesh? (well feathers).

After the pastel pink of the jays’ bellies, the next birds that caught my attention were a couple of pairs of bullfinches, the brash cerise of the males is quite hard to miss.

Approaching down the lane I saw somebody else with a double buggy. It was Matt with his lads and their spaniels. They live in our old house. Matt told me that he would normally go into Eaves Wood rather then coming down the lane and I immediately decided that I would go that way home, rather than following my intended route along Park Road.

Alongside the Row is Bank Well:

On hot summer days a good place to see exotic looking dragonflies and on balmy summer evenings a top spot for bats. It looks like quite a lot of clearing-up of encroaching vegetation has taken place on the road side. I had been expecting to see Colt’s-foot flowering somewhere soon, and here it was on the verge of the pond:

Entering Eaves Wood through the Jubilee Wood car park – so called I believe because it was purchased by the village and presented to the National Trust in 1977 the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee – I spotted a dead birch which has clearly been used as a drumming post by a woodpecker. It had several large holes in it, one of which went right through the trunk.

I passed another dead birch, the same one as yesterday. It still hasn’t admitted defeat and is still spilling sap from its severed trunk:

This view from the edge of Eaves Wood back towards the village

shows a good view of the route that I often follow along the edge of the last field by the white houses and past the large farmhouse slightly left of centre in the shot.

Yesterday in Eaves Wood I saw two corvids building a large nest and wondered whether they were Ravens. Today, walking below these birches:

I heard a ronk ronk call that makes me think that I may have been right.

Just as we were leaving Eaves Wood Sam woke up. Ben was overjoyed and it was only now when he started to sing and laugh and roar that I realised what a great effort he had been making to keep quiet and let Sam sleep. Normally Ben has just two settings: asleep and very loud, so he did very well.


Later we all went to….. Woodwell ,where else? This time Amy had a self-appointed mission to collect some water from the waterfall because she has a ‘recipe’ for fairy perfume and three drops of rainwater is the first ingredient.

Yesterday I noticed a number of trees whose branches seemed to be covered in small dark balls. I assumed that it had something to do with buds opening and leaves appearing, but today a fallen branch confirmed my suspicions:

It looks like a half-ripened blackberry with its nodules of black, purple and ruby red, but in fact it’s one of the black buds of Ash which is in the process of coming into leaf.

Walking by gardens and through woods we get serenaded by a succession of territorial robins. This one sat in a bush in the vicarage garden:


Sam needed a late nap so I was out again, this time accompanied only by Sam in the buggy. I went down to the ‘beach’, and took the following pictures of ominous clouds over the Bay:

Sap Rising

2 thoughts on “Sap Rising

  1. Hi Mark..
    You must be as fit as a fiddle with all this walking you do. I enjoyed every bit ofthis walk and post. If you get the chance to capture the Ravens I’d love a picture of them. We only see Bullfinches rarely this last year or two.
    The other thing that jumped out at me today and I have not picked up on before are your boys names.. Ben & Sam.. our lads are called that. Ben is 21 in June and Sam will be 18.
    The 3 drops of rain from the waterfall is very sweet, I’ll show this to Jane tonight. Jane collects Fairies. and Witches… Glad to hear you saw some Jays.. see one then wait for the other.. just like it says in all the books.
    Hope you have a great day.

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    Back to work today and no walk…
    I wish that I was as fit as a fiddle, but I’m not. However, last autumn even a short stroll into the village was very taxing, so I’m pleased to be fitter.
    I will be lucky to get Ravens with my little point-and-snap, but I’m hoping to upgrade to a super-zoom so here’s hoping. We’re very lucky with the bullfinches: they are regular visitors to our garden. Yesterday, from where I’m sitting now, I watched one taking a sip from our birdbath about 6 feet away through the window. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get it.
    That’s quite a coincidence about our sons’ names. Our Ben is also the oldest and there is just over 2 years between them.
    Of course Amy is actually the oldest. She is very keen on fairies.

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