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Encountering surprises along the way

The mist of the morning didn't put me off the idea of heading out for a walk, especially given that for no good reason, I had only left the house once this week to post a letter!

I bundled up and headed out to the woods. As I entered, it was as noisy as ever. The mist obviously hadn't put the birds off!

As I had recently found, there weren't that many people around, however the mist made it feel more tranquil than ever - there really is nothing better than a bit of mist to provide some atmosphere, especially when in woods!

Mist in Horsenden Woods

Through a habit I appear to have acquired, I stopped at a cluster of few trees and took a look at them. I don't expect them to change, yet I always wonder if they 'feel' differently depending on the weather that they find themselves in. One of them is the woodpecker tree that always makes me think about what could be living within it.

As I looked at the bark, I noticed a moth, expertly camouflaged and looking as though it fit perfectly in the fold of the wood . Am I really the only one who see these things and is in awe of what a joy nature brings?

Agriopis leucophaearia
A male Spring Usher camouflaged on a tree

As is often the case, I noticed a number of squirrels. In the distance, I saw one inspecting a hole in a tree. For the first time in months, I remembered to bring my binoculars. I watched with intrigue as it scampered around the hole, sticking its head in and then moving away from it, until it finally went inside.

It only stayed for a few seconds and then swiftly, its little head popped back out and it sat on the branch above the hole with what looked to be a nut grasped in its little paws. Its secret stash perhaps...or maybe someone else's?

I began to realise that I rarely took the time to stop and watch animals interact in their environment and that I must do this more often!

Mist on the hill

As I reached the top of the hill, the mist looked even more dramatic. There was no chance of seeing the horizon which usually stretches for miles, across not only London but reaching the home counties.

Nevertheless, I sat on the bench with a perfect viewpoint...well, on a clear day ;) There was a right old to do (scientific term) amongst some birds. I looked over to try to see what was happening but other than a magpie, I couldn't see anything. Then a few moments later, I spotted two jays in a nearby tree. Through the binoculars I could see their feathers were sticking up on the top of their heads so I can only guess that they were being threatened and emitting alarm calls. It soon quietened down to a level where the parakeets were again the loudest birds around.

As I walked across the top of the hill, I realised I had chosen to walk across the uneven ground that covers the central area rather than the path, which whilst muddy was even and would have been easier to navigate.

Doing this made me think about a recent conversation I had with my hiking friend, Paul. He reminded me of the Naismith's rule which helps to estimate the length of time it will take to travel an intended route. He informed me that he tends to add additional time if he knows the terrain will be uneven or difficult to walk on.

It wasn't as though the raised mounds were significantly tough to walk across but it did make me laugh to myself as it seemed typical for me to take the path less travelled in many aspects of my life!

As I was caught up in my thoughts, a caught a glimpse small rodent run out from under a cluster of grass which in the blink of an eye, darted into a hole. It caught me completely by surprise and until that point, I hadn't even noticed that the ground was littered by these tiny holes.

As I didn't see the creature clearly enough to describe it, I was told that it could have been a shrew, field vole or perhaps some type of mouse. Whatever it was, it made me think about what else I was walking amongst without even realising.

All photos my own

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