Day to Night Heartwood Forest Walk

Last night the AD and I went on a group walk organised by the Woodland Trust and led by Murray Brown.  Timed to straddle sunset, and giving access to the forest after normal opening times, I found it very informative.

In my head, things quite often get classified into ‘interesting photogenic animals and insects’ and ‘wild plants’.  Now, at least, I can identify a few without labels or a reference book.  Such as:

Pineapple Weed and Wild CarrotPineapple weed and wild carrot exemplars held in a guide's hands

Aka: Matricaria matricarioides, and Daucus carota. The Pineapple weed is the closest, and the wild carrot is the larger flat flower falling out of focus to the rear.  Samples held by Murray Brown. There’s no instgramesque filtering going on here – I got lucky with the golden hour.

Kestrals and Hobbies were frequently seen, but at a distance and in failing light so reasonable shots were nigh on impossible (not that I didn’t try, but some things are beyond even the longest of the Nikon trifecta).  By the point I witnessed a murder of Crows politely requesting a Hobby to feed elsewhere, any shot was reduced to blurry silhouettes on a flat grey background.

I could hear robins, saw a host of Cinnabar moth caterpillars on ragwort, and there was plenty of sign of mammals but unsurprisingly the wildlife steered clear of a herd of humans stomping and bellowing about the place.

The walk finished with a brief observation of a barn owl nest by moonlight.  A 20 minute stakeout was highly optimistic. A night-long watch might have been fruitful, but at least the moon was pretty.

Heartwood Forest MoonAn almost Half-moon

Unexpected Woodland Dangers

I had a wander along a bit of the Lea valley (with obligatory stops at any pubs I passed).  This little chap seemed particularly unconcerned by my presence:

Squirrel in Hawthorn

A Squirrel, in a hawthorn, eating

This gratuitously cute picture allows me to tangent onto one major danger of walking in woodland (or indeed under any tree) – a danger never talked about in schools, or wildlife books (Although, it’s fair to say that Newton’s Principia directly implies it).

I refer, or course, to:

Squirrel Pee

Do you really want a full and frank description of squirrel urine on leaf? ReallY?

No, they don’t always go on the ground. And that stream narrowly missed me.