Trees & Creepers

A Sunday stroll in good weather looping out from and returning to our valley village. The path over the fields takes us by an old farmhouse and outbuildings sympathetically renovated and now being lived in by an Anglo-Dutch couple, friends of friends, who both trained as architects. They’ve also started tree planting and hedge restoration. We then descend suddenly into the shaded seclusion of a wooded gorge where the rapid burn rushes noisily through. Residents of he former mill house complex uses ladders to access the bed below the little arched bridge which carries the lane over. At this point it ceases to be metalled and becomes gravelled. Later, as we climb steadily out of the property on the other side, it transforms to bridleway through a sunken lane banked with a magnificent row of isolated ancient oaks. Horses, sheep and cattle tracks all present in the mud of the pass. Further over the woodland slopes are fenced and regeneration is slowly taking place, saplings being free to grow when not grazed by animals. Circling, we pass an ivy covered farmhouse. Picking up a paved lane once again we descend into another, even narrower tributary valley, where a metal gate marks a move into estate land. Here commercial woodlands – a mix of soft and hard woods – have been felled and cleared with new planting high up on the far bank. Later on our walk, where stream enters river, the removal of a dense stand of pine and fir has opened up lovely views of the wide water rushing south through a fertile valley of barley and wheat. Here though, in the steep sided shady combe, the effect is more akin to a battlefield site. Many silver birches though still line our way. One mature tree has a cluster of honey fungus round its base. Further on the pale trunks highlight the flickering ranging presence of a small flock of little birds. I need the binoculars to follow their rapid progress but systematic motions in racing up the bark and out on to twigs, reveals them to be treecreepers. I observe one on a trunk perfectly still for at least a minute, intent on spider or insect, before darting in with its long downturned beak. Due to loss of hearing in the higher registers I don’t properly take in the birds fine thin trill, but fortunately Kim does and I can then start to tune in. Fascinating creatures and delightful to see them in action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *