Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 1, 2014

Busy Birds

You’d think I’d be used to it by now.  Late summer and the woods seeming bereft of birdlife, with only the distant trill of a Robin and scolding tchack from somewhere in the undergrowth.  Then wondering where everyone is and turning a proverbial corner, the tree canopy sudden becomes alive with incessant twittering, the flicker of wings and glimpsed shapes of small birds between the branches.

So it was in Gernon Bushes at the weekend.  This is an Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve located just north of Epping, annexed, but for the now disused Central Line tube, to the so-called Lower Forest, associated of course with the considerably larger spread of the Epping Forest proper to the south.  It is one of the subtler signs of change, with the summer just beginning to think about the transition into autumn; the mixed groups of tits that absorbs its numbers from the wider wood to concentrate them into one delightfully bustling flock as they rove, foraging through the trees.  Blue Tits, Long-tailed, Coal and Great, all content with each others company, as well as often that of others.  I would have a brief view of a Treecreeper, before it edged its way around the other side of the tree trunk and presumably away to find another, as I never saw it again.  The Nuthatch were far more obliging, happy to set about their searching above me as a watched. Even before laying eyes on them their sounds marks them out as different among the rest of the flock.  Amid the soft whistling and persistent but quiet chattering contact calls, their more forceful calling – that loud, rather fluty repeated chweet (click here to hear) – was all the more strident.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).  Ross Gardner 2013. This shot was snatched at another EWT reserve, Warley Place.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea). Ross Gardner 2013.
This shot was snatched at another EWT reserve, Warley Place.

To be able to lose myself, just for a few moments, in the throng of the wood, so obviously and explosively (in an albeit unobtrusively) evidenced by its busy birdlife, is a small pleasure and one I look forward to.  As they pass on through to leave you alone among the trees once more, that calm stillness of the wood can seem even further intensified,

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