Sunday, 1 April 2012

Shots I didn't get

Birch plantation
Saturday dawned cold and grey after a fabulously warm week, when I ws stuck in the office (again!).  We debated where to head for a walk and George persuaded me that there was good photo opportunities on the Bedfordshire section of the Greensand Ridge between Woburn Sands and Woburn, a walk he'd taken during the week.  Well - his idea of a vista was mostly views through woodland which looked very drear and flat in the grey light.  So I spent a part of the walk grumbling that I'd rather be somewhere else!
We headed up from the beech and conifer woods, out on to the heathland habitat. The path speared through an area of gorse (flowering of course - isn't it always?) and signs of life appeared in the song of birds and the many crows who moved off rapidly as we approached. 
Someone once told me that if you see a lot of crows they are rooks, if you see a lone rook it's a crow - but that was definitely not the case here!
I have to say there were so many crows I started looking for the hidden bodies, and George started quoting from the old Scots poem "The Twa Corbies"
As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the thither say,
'Whar sall we gang and dine the day?'

'In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens the he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair....

Further on the heathland opened out and became a mixture of unprepossessing sandy scrub, young beech plantations and gorse of varying heights, and I had to apologise to George - because above this area there were flocks of finches and in the gorse edging the open areas a variety of birds were singing and every corner we turned resulted in the immediate and rapid departure of a green woodpecker, heading for the trees, where they hid leaving only their braying call as evidence of their presence. Best of all I am absolutely sure that the loudest birds singing were Linnets. A magical sound, checked by my latest favourite iPhone app - iChirp, which allowed me to listen and compare on the spot. Shame I couldn't see them though!

Chinese Water deer, tusks and all!
Exit stage left, through typical habitat
So Sunday dawned cold but bright and clear so just after 8am I headed back to the spot to see if I could find them again. The area looked completely different in bright sunlight.  The Greensand ridge is a strange phenomenon - A sand ridge? surely not!  It is one of the more prominent landscape features in this area, with wood-clad slopes and significant views from those areas without trees.  however to me they defy logic, as the summit has a soft sandy surface, as soft as a west highland beach - surely it should have eroded away long since!

 I walked as quietly as I could and my first surprise appeared in a area of shorter gorse- as I rounded the corner I came face to face with a Chinese Water deer.  For once he was more stunned than me and I managed a good portrait before he headed off, picking up a companion from deeper into the gorse as he went.
Resting skylark
When I got back to the open area at the top of the ridge, there were robins, dunnocks and a variety of small birds singing, but best of all the song of a skylark - or two ... or three ...!  They were making song flights above the open grassy / sandy heath, and luckily for me, not flying too high. Eventually I managed to follow one back to a perch where I got a snap. While I was concentrating on him, another deer, this time a more common muntjac sprinted past having been disturbed from it's cover by a dog walker coming towards us.
Breakfast was calling so I headed home - with more stories of shots I didn't get, rather than those I did, but nevertheless, a great morning.

New planting surrounding open grassy heath with conifer backdrop

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, love the Deer. Thanks for allowing us to come on your walk with you.