Twelve Drummers Drumming

Eaves Wood – Waterslack – Hawes Water – Moss Lane – Eaves Wood

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We’ve spent Christmas at home again this year and a very fine Christmas it has been. The weather has been mixed, but we’ve had some very sunny, clear days in amongst the more typical fare. I’ve been out for local walks, beating the bounds, most days, some times two or three short walks in a day, in fair weather and foul, in company and alone, so expect a fair few posts to come, although, when the weather has been poor I’ve often left my camera at home, so not all of the walks will make it onto the blog.

Most of the walks have involved a visit to Eaves Wood, some have been almost entirely within its compass.

One familiar landmark in the wood, which I walk past very regularly, but which I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned here before, are these three constructions…

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“…three very large, stone built, water storage tanks on the surface. These were used to store water for the house before a mains supply was available. The source of this water was  a spring some four hundred yards distant, sited remarkably near the summit of the limestone ridge. The water was first directed through a pipe to a large collecting tank. From here it continued its piped journey underground into a second holding tank before finally reaching the large storage tanks referred to above.”

from ‘In and Around Silverdale’ by David Peter

The house referred to is the Woodlands, once Hill House, a pretty grand private property but now an excellent pub, affectionately known in the village as The Woodies.

I was out relatively early that morning because the forecast had predicted sunshine early, but cloud later. The cloud arrived rather sooner than I expected and by the time I had reached Hawes Water it was really quite dull.

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I met some friends on the boardwalk by the lake and they were telling me to listen out for the contact calls of Goldcrests and Nuthatches, that, in fact, there were Goldcrests in the trees around us. I’ve been quite surprised by how busy, and noisy, the birds are in the woods and trees at the moment. I’m not great at recognising bird-song and even less confident with contact calls, but I’ve seen quite a variety of birds over the last fortnight, including several Nuthatches and eventually a solitary Goldcrest.

I haven’t often been very successful in capturing images of the birds however…

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I’ve kept this diabolical, blurred photo because the birds which have surprised me most have been the Woodpeckers. I’ve once heard the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker, and most days I’ve heard several different Great-spotted Woodpeckers drumming. These are both sounds I associate with early spring, not the tail end of December. I’ve seen this bird, or at least, presumably the same bird each time, drumming on the same tree on more than one occasion, with a rival bird responding from somewhere nearby. Standing beneath the tree as the Woodpecker drums, the volume of the sound is astonishing.

I assumed that I must be wrong about this territorial drumming being a portent of spring, but this is what Mabey and Cocker have to say in Birds Britannica:

“Like many arboreal birds it is easiest to see just before leaf burst, when the adults can be located by their mechanical drumming sound, whose dying cadence reverberates through the woodland of early spring and is itself a wonderful statement of seasonal change. Both males and females create the noise and do so by striking their beaks repeatedly against a suitably rotten or hollow branch which acts in turn as a sounding board.”

So if I’m wrong, I am at least in exalted company. Or maybe it’s the Woodpeckers who are confused by the bright sunny days we’ve had? Or perhaps spring is just going to arrive early this year?

 

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Twelve Drummers Drumming

3 thoughts on “Twelve Drummers Drumming

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Blimey! Actually, come to think of it, we have a hellebore flowering in our garden, so maybe there’s something in that?

  1. We saw woodpeckers in Tenerife which was a real treat as I’ve only ever caught the most fleeting of glimpses in the UK. We have them at home as well and you can hear the drumming from a hundred meters away

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