I take my hibernation quite seriously and don’t usually venture out much at this time of year. But prompted by the mild weather and by Aye Can’s Facebook campaign to Get up and Go, I went down to the woods for the first time this year. What a mess! It was carnage – trees down all over the place. I took pictures but I don’t think they capture devastation. You could almost see where the wind had funnelled through the woods toppling tree after massive tree as it went. Once they’re all cleared away there will be a distinct gap in the woodland floor. If you have a fire in the house, this would be a good time to stock up on wood (as evidently some have been doing). As well as the giant conifers, there are plenty of smaller birches and rowans down too.
It was a beautiful walk though. I stopped to watch the Roe deer grazing in the stubbly fields for a while (easing myself in gently you know?). The hedgerows are showing signs of life; Sweet Cicely poking through at the horse gate, tiny Gallium shoots at the layby and Dandelion and Plantain all over the place. Sweet Woodruff in its usual spots but it looks like last year’s growth rather than new. As I was pondering this I was disturbed by an almighty noise and looked up expecting to see geese. Instead, 5 swans, beating their powerful wings and gabbling to each other, sailed over the treetops. Awesome in every sense of the word.
Making my way through the woods, I came across this young tree which just shone at me as I passed. I’ve never seen such a metallic silver bark. Oddly, I think this means it’s a Downy Birch rather than a Silver Birch but apparently they hybridise so it could be a bit of both. I’ll keep an eye on this one I think and see what it does as it grows.
As I reached the gate at Tigh Ban I could see it was getting dark but I had heard tales of wild garlic up in Crieff (I know! It’s January!) So, as I didn’t have anything waiting for me at home except my tax return, I took a right and headed for the beach. This gave me a good opportunity to take some pictures of the Tilia down that way. They are quite different to the church ones – more upright and rounded. I’ll add them to the Tree Year file for comparison and attempt an ID at some point. Sadly I didn’t find any garlic – a few moments of excitement but it turned out to be young docks. As well as all the advice about not picking anything unless you’re sure what it is etc. I think I’ll add “don’t attempt to ID in the dark”!
I wandered down to the beach for a few moments contemplation before I headed home. It’s always different down there. Changing river levels, floods and a certain amount of excavation, constantly change the way the water flows. In an isolated but still deep pool, I saw the tell tale ripples of fish rising. I hoped they would make it out before the pool shrunk any more but as this passed through my mind a Heron took off from the far bank and circled overhead – they may make easy pickings I fear.
Turning for home, yet another sight to stir my Winter soul from hibernation: shining in the twilight sky, Jupiter and Venus! Which reminded me – apparently tonight there is a good chance of seeing the Aurora borealis. But looking to the North, the mountains were already almost hidden and in the West, more dark clouds were rising. I stopped awhile as I passed the woods on the way home to stargaze through the bare branches of the Winter trees…
A magical end to a magical walk.
[pictures hopefully to follow – computer gremlins…]