Tuesday, 15 October 2013

If you go down to the woods today .......

Autumn in the midlands ! These misty dew drenched mornings of autumn have a magical feeling about them. The woodlands around the lakeside, my local birding patch, have an eerie stillness about them these days, the rust and crimson hues of the falling leaf shot through with early morning sunlight, the sharpness of the air, the smell of dampness mingled with wafting fruitiness from the blackberry laden briars, the splashes of red and purple and more red of the Rowan, Elder and Hawthorn, the alarm calls of Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, the occasional burst of Robin or Wren song in the stillness..... this is Woodville in October!
When I walk in these woodlands on days like this, my thoughts go back to school days and the poet Hopkins...
"And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs”

 On this morning's walk, no rarities, no passage migrant warblers passing thru, just the local everyday comings and goings of birdlife in this quiet corner of Longford as they search the bountiful hedgerows and treetops for an early morning repast.

On this morning, pausing to admire the Rowan, laden with its vivid red fruits, gloriously backlit by the early sunshine, and then the Mistle Thrushes, stopping by to feed, later a pair of Bullfinches and all around, the chit chat of Coal  Tits, Goldcrest and Long Tailed Tits,  everywhere the muted sub sounds of early morning !

Along the path and up the hill towards the remains of the "big house", a male kestrel glides overhead and comes to rest on a beech tree, its grey  and rust colouring brilliant in the sunshine, surveying the undergrowth briefly before it resumes its glide towards the lakeshore and disappears over the distant alders. A female Blackcap, a late reminder of summer visitors to the woodland, makes a brief appearance from among the brambles, to where it returns and proceeds to broadcast  an urgent and prolonged alarm call. Down by the lakeshore, a pair of Great Crested Grebe cackle and chatter on the almost still lake...and then, moving stage left at speed, low over the water, a momentary flash of blue and orange ...a Kingfisher skirts the wooded shoreline and is gone! A few skittish Mallard feeding in the nearby reedbed, sensing my intrusion, take wing and off to the far side of the lake , towards Derrycassan.  

Woodville is a Coillte forest, a mix of spruce and broadleaf trees, a mini wilderness, a place apart, away from everywhere, a place of peace and tranquillity on this autumn morning ....a place of renewal for body and spirit and perhaps some day ..a rarity or two ?





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