More wildlife watching

by Simon Knight

The park is really coming to life now, with the grasses growing, trees in leaf and the fields dotted with yellow as buttercups start to bloom. My visits haven’t been as frequent as I would have liked, which makes me value the time I have spent in the park even more. 

I have been fortunate to have a pretty good woodpecker sighting, which I was very happy with as I have had a few attempts at photographing them without any decent success. I was walking along the edge of Sheep Field, heading towards the wood that separates Sheep Field from Sleeper field when I heard the unmistakable call of a great spotted woodpecker. To my surprise, the call had come from almost ground level.

As I carefully and quietly walked into the wood, it called again and was still low down. It gave its position away with yet another call, and there it was, not too far away on a tree trunk, just above the ground. Unfortunately, it was on the opposite side of the tree, but I used that to my advantage and took some steps closer, careful not to stand on any twigs and scare it away. I waited, hoping it would work its way around the tree trunk and thankfully it did. I could see that it was a female, (the male has a red patch on the back of its head) and she didn’t seem to mind me being there, so I thought I would try to get closer. After a quick twig check, I took two slow steps forwards. I slowly lifted the camera to my eye and just as I pressed the shutter button, a dog appeared from behind me and tried to catch it. So my last few shots were of a blurry woodpecker flying away from me!

The bluebells have put on a good show this year in various places throughout the park. Although there aren’t vast swathes of bluebells, their individual beauty can be admired, and I never grow tired of photographing them.

Another flower that I always look forward to are the ramsons, more commonly known as wild garlic. There are only a few in the park, which means that we don’t get the strong garlic smell filling air, which I love. But if you get close enough to them, you can still sample their lovely (if you like it) fragrance. 

I am getting more and more excited as summer approaches and the park experiences another burst of life with the arrival of the insects and spiders and I get to see the stunning wasp spider again. But let’s hope summer actually arrives and this rain stops!


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