Home from home

by on Jan.16, 2014, under Birdwatching, Choppington Woods, Northumberland

During our quieter times of the year, I spend much of each day dealing with NEWT’s admin stuff.  I try to get out and enjoy some fresh air every day though…

It’s mid-January and it really should be cold; frozen ground, a dusting of snow, hoar frost on leaves and branches.  Instead, there’s a distinct air of early Autumn as I head out of the house and along the track to Choppington Woods.  The cold damp air coats everything in a thin layer of moisture, including me.  I soon give up using my binoculars as no sooner do I dry them than they’re fogged up again.  Instead, I rely on my hearing.  The thin high calls of Goldcrests emanate from the depths of the coniferous parts of the wood while the short sharp notes of Blackbirds surround me as they head to roost.  Then, from a hidden perch near the edge of one plantation, one of my favourite bird sounds lifts the gloom.  The tremulous hooting of a Tawny Owl, a sound that I’ll never tire of hearing.  We have at least two birds singing in the wee hours of the morning currently, both audible from our bedroom, and if they wake me up with their territorial caterwauling I’m not too bothered; I just lie there and listen to them, marveling at the rich complexity.  The bird on the plantation edge proves a master of disguise until, in response to a series of quavering hoots lower down the hill, it begins to move through the trees.  I follow it’s progress until it vanishes into the gloom and darkness of the canopy and I continue my walk.  Lost in my thoughts as daylight fades and everything begins to blur into the monochrome  realm of the owls, my reverie is disturbed as a Common Buzzard flaps laboriously over a plantation of Silver Birch. Like Cinderella, the buzzard is out and about perilously late, struggling to get home on time.

Now it’s near dark, and I’ve still got the final plantation to negotiate before I’m back home.  Some footpaths are good, some footpaths are bad…and some seem to gather water like a sponge.  As the clarty ground clings to my boots, trying to bind me to the earth, a Red Fox trots by, delivering what can only be a look of contempt at my ungainly struggle 🙂

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