0800 Saturday 15th April saw an enthusiastic group of Friends of Fox Hill members meet with Friends of the Emm Brook’s Eddie Napper for a bird/ nature walk in Fox Hill woods.
Eddie’s appreciation of the natural world stemmed from growing-up on a local farm, where a consequent daily exposure to the sights and sounds of the countryside led to an ability to recognise the calls of many different birds from within the cacophony of the early morning avian chorus (as he amply demonstrated).
So, what did we see, or rather (mostly) hear as visually, birds can be quite elusive? Claire, our resident photographer, managed some shots of the Robin, Jay, Great Tit, and Chiffchaff –
followed by a great sequence showing the distinctive forked-tail of the Red Kite, (a feature so useful to distinguish from the similarly sized Buzzard with a fan-shaped tail).
In addition, we heard Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, and Blue Tit. Perhaps, rather surprisingly and possibly indicative of wider trends, there was an absence of Starling, House and Tree Sparrows, each so numerous just a few years ago.
Among the numerous flora and fungi seen, as shown below, and which included Wood Anemone and Bluebell shoots ….
Native Garlic Mustard
Silver Leaf Fungus
Common Hair Cap Moss
the standouts were the Turkey-Tail Fungus and Snakes Head Fritillary.
So, what was the abiding memory from our early (ish) walk? For me, it was Eddie’s enthusiasm, and insistence that even without any technical kit – binoculars, camera, or bird/ flora identification apps – so much can be gleaned from just being aware and absorbed fully in the sights and sounds of the woods, or indeed any natural surroundings. Over time, and at different times of the day, in different weather and in different seasons, the collective experience and growing appreciation for, and knowledge of, the surroundings will provide enormous satisfaction, and enrichment. Right, perhaps it’s time to re-read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden … “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…”
Grateful thanks to Eddie and to the organisers.