He was glad that he liked the country undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got down to the bare bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple.
‘He’ is Mole, heading:
towards the Wild Wood, which lay before him low and threatening, like a black reef in some still southern sea.
I haven’t been getting out often enough or going far enough of late, but on Sunday B – with whom I am reading ‘Wind in the Willows’ – joined me in an attempt to get ‘down to the bare bones of it’.
The sun was shining and over Eaves Wood the sky was blue but to the west the sky was forbiddingly black.
“Look Dad magpies!”
In fact it was a large mixed flock of rooks and jackdaws, the rooks digging purposefully whilst the jackdaws mostly wheeled overhead. Beyond the rooks, curlews were presumably seeking similar pickings.
On the Row we watched a solitary fieldfare in a garden. Not too surprisingly the rain that the leaden skies had promised had now arrived and the blue patch above Eaves Wood had been supplanted by a (slightly feeble) rainbow.
By Moss Lane we found a huge clattering of jackdaws, this time without their cousins the rooks and apparently more intent on some serious foraging.
Stripped of their finery the trees do reveal some of their secrets – further down Moss Lane we watched a greater spotted woodpecker furiously hammering on a trunk.
Not the most revealing photo of a woodpecker! And the crop I attempted is no more informative. But I do like the way that small flash of colours stands out against the mass of bare branches.
By the time we had rounded Haweswater B, who had set off at a fine pace, was now beginning to dawdle, but he was absorbed in stripping the bark from his stick….
In the steep-sided dip by Challan Hall mews we startled a heron. Unusually, although it did take to the wing, it didn’t go too far before landing again.
We returned home via Eaves Wood. The sun was shining again, the blue sky had returned and was providing a perfect backdrop for the trees above us. Even an occasional visitor to this blog will surely have noticed that I need little excuse to take photos of trees, especially silver birches which certainly come into their own in the winter when the striking bark and delicate branches are seen to best advantage.
The birds we saw provided interest and talking points throughout the walk. We also saw blue and great tits, thrushes and blackbirds, oystercatchers, robins, a kestrel, a pair of bullfinches, and some woodpigeons…
Later the pair of us were out again for our more standard weekend outing to the Pepper Pot, this time with the rest of the family and some friends. The kids charged around gleefully, TBH chatted to her pal and I enjoyed the late afternoon winter’s light.