MY wife Rosemary refers to me as a “naturist”. I correct her. I’m an amateur naturalist who does not walk in the countryside naked and, much to her amusement, I do like plenty of pockets in my clothing.
She’s perpetually taking the mickey but I don’t really care as she is such fun and keeps me on my toes at the same time.
This morning she suggests we pay another visit to Kingwood Common as we have not had a walk there for a long time and want to see it in winter. Rosemary loves the trees.
We leave the car at the end of the lane that passes the former Grouse and Claret pub and Barn Farm. It is a clear and bright day, ideal for Rosemary’s photography.
I check on last year’s broad-leaved helleborines (Epipactis helleborine), their now brown stems still visible and slowly decaying. I look forward to seeing them in all their splendour come July.
Uncommon tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) is as strong as ever, bearing once red but now black berries, among large clumps of pendulous sedge (Carex pendula).
This latter plant is a sign of damp woodland, which is confirmed by the seasonal pond to the north of our pathway.
Soon we emerge in one of our favourite woodland glades that will be full of wildflowers come summer. I cannot wait to see the pink flowers of common centaury and the yellow of perforate St John’s-wort, primrose and common rock-rose. Today it is covered with a sharp, crunchy, glistening frost.
There is a wide variety of trees here — aspen, ash, beech, silver and downy birch, cherry, crab apple, goat willow, hawthorn, pedunculate oak, rowan, whitebeam and yew. Some of the beech trees look like they have eyes. Are they watching us we wonder?
Despite being young, this woodland contains much fallen wood covered with mosses and verdigris-tinted lichens.
There are also plenty of birds visible and audible — robins, dunnocks, wrens, blackbirds and great tits seem to be warming up like an avian symphony orchestra. A greater-spotted woodpecker joins in with percussion. All we need is a few notes from a blackcap and the arrival of willow warblers, whitethroats, chiffchaffs and, of course, a conductor, Mr Cuckoo.
We find the going heavy, the bridleway full of sweet-smelling mud that has been disturbed not only by horses but all the extra human traffic on foot and mountain bikes.
There are a fair few riders out today without warning bells. They fly past with Lycra-clad, muddied bottoms.
I bought a mountain bike in the late Eighties with the explicit purpose of navigating our local bridleways in my passionate hunt for rare plants. I still have the bike but have not ridden it for a while as I need some new inner tubes. I must buy a new model for Rosemary.
She points out some trees that seem to be dancing and all around they seem to sway.
Source: Henley Standard
Original publication 9 February, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 24th February 2021
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