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Exploring woods, a storm, and an unlucky deer


I  love exploring new woods. I have been to almost all of the woods near my house over the last four years, and know them pretty much like the back of my hand, so last weekend I decided to explore a wood that I have only been to once before.  It's the wood which has the hidden disused watermill above the waterfall, and is close to the deserted castle.

There is only one track to the wood, and you need to drive there. After we parked the car, there was a short track which leads to the top of the south side of a big valley. There was once trees in the valley, but the ones on the south side were cut down when I was last here two years ago. At the bottom, a stream has been dammed to make a large pond, but is is very hard to see it from a distance because there are bushes all round the pond.

The path on the east side of the pond along the dam wall is really the only place to get close to the water. The path going down to the pond was covered in plants, sticks and mud, and that made it hard to walk through. Five minutes after arriving at the pond I saw this heron fly on to a log in the water very close to us. We watched it a bit before it flew off again.

We crossed the overflow stream leading out of the pond on two very old wooden planks, then there was some long grass in the sun. It was an extremely hot day, and I was regretting not bringing a second water bottle. There were some insects landing on the grass which I originally thought it was a dragonfly, but after dad took some pictures  I realised this one was a common blue damselfly:

I also spotted this. It is a large red damselfly. I was really excited when I saw these damselflies, because I have never seen them before.


We went into the wood on a path, and soon came to a crossroads. It was really, really hot and humid in the wood and not much breeze. Then a plane flew overhead, just over the top of the trees, from a nearby airfield. Half of the wood has been cut down leaving fallen wood on the ground, along with old rusted oil tanks from old diggers and trucks. This made it much harder to walk through than it looks.

A family of wrens were nearby, flitting between the low fallen branches:

We found a lot of weird fungi on the walk like this one which I think is called Witches Butter:

We were crossing an area where there had been some forestry work, when suddenly I felt a few raindrops fall. I knew it was more than just a passing shower, so we stopped to put out waterproof jackets on and pushed on back to the edge of the woods. The rainstorm came on incredibly fast. It was like standing under a shower.

We had made it to the north west corner of the wood. To the north was another valley, with a river running east-west at the bottom, with the waterfall at the west end. You could hear it, but you could only get a glimpse of the very top of it if you looked really closely. It isn't obvious in this photo but by this time it was raining very heavily indeed:

This is the same waterfall from the bottom of the valley when I was there a few years before. It's pretty amazing and hardly anyone knows it's there:

Circling high over the pool of water at the bottom of the waterfall, I saw a bird of prey but I could not tell what it was at first:

As it flew around I got a better glimpse. It was a osprey. I haven't seen one since last year, since they migrate to Africa over the winter.  It is by far my favourite bird of prey.

The rain was still heavy, so we decided to take cover under a tree at the top of the valley. But when we were there, dad glimpsed something at the bottom of some bracken.  It was some bones.

This bones were scattered around, but there was one which caught my attention. It was a left tibia but it was broken and had some extra bone growth around the broken end: 

I looked round the other bones and I found the other tibia. You can see that it was broken at the top end. These were interesting (and deserve their own post which I'll write later !)

A bit further still I found the skull, which confirmed that it was from a roe deer. (It couldn't really have been anything else from the size and shape of the tibias)

It was a young female roe deer, with all teeth through apart from the final back one (the M3), which meant it was about 9 months old when it died.

We decided to press on even though it was still raining. We took a path through the trees. It was dark and damp and at this point me and dad were soaking ! Normally the thick pine trees shelter you from the rain, but the rain was so heavy it made no difference.

Because the trees were in rows, it was easy to navigate back south. I came across this oak tree in the middle of the pine plantation which dad remembered from before.

Back at the south edge of the wood, this was the view of the other side of the valley. You can just about see the tiny dot of the deer fence where we needed to head to to get back to the car.  The rain had eased a bit by this point.

You can see how wet I was when I got back to the car !

The broken tibia is very interesting: so interesting that I'm going to write about it some other time and devote a whole post to it. and I've now written about it here !

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Owen said...

What a great woods around your house Jake! The Osprey is beautifull. You found some nice bones too. I like them.

Jake said...

Thanks ! It was good to see the ospreys again.

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