Flash Mobbed Again!

A fine start to the day. Good enough to pile walking boots into the car and head up onto Cannock Chase. Avoiding, where possible the new-Bike-for Christmas riders (bless ‘em), the dog walkers and a couple of nervous horse riders and trying to stay in the warm sunlight. Low sun, of course: this is December and the light seems to come along parallel to the ground, gilding the topmost branches of randomly wind-planted silver birches. Pretty trees, for all their promiscuous fertility, in all seasons. Some redwings are settled into the purple twigs in a couple of them.

A kestrel quarters the heathland but appears to find little to hunt. This is a rare and disappearing habitat, easily invaded by silver-birch, but is being managed by the Forestry Commission here.

We just go where our feet take us, some kind of slow wild-goose chase. A track opens up, we decide whether or not to take it. There’s no rush. The wind, however is sharp on unprotected cheeks and in some of the dips and shallow valleys there is shelter. Magpies squabble in the breaks where fire has accidentally or deliberately helped the glossy leaved bilberries and made slow motion old-gold fountain fireworks out of tussocks of grass.

I was up at the allotment yesterday after a ‘phone call. The larch lap fence that borders one side of our plot had blown out, and two panels were resting against some of our fruit trees. Yep, I shoved and pulled the offending piece, quite undamaged back onto the house yard: it’s their fence. Nobody in: out for the Christmas season perhaps. They are good neighbours and, I am sure will replace the fence as soon as they see what has happened. Elsewhere, Milko has someone else’s shed roof on his plot, but is not sure which plot it blew in from. He moved his poly-tunnel a couple of weeks ago on a windy day and wrecked the doorway. He was up there to check there was no further damage to it. There’s been a lot of rain but, compared to other areas of the U.K. – where homes are flooded and without power since Christmas Day -we have got off lightly.

Back on the Chase we find ourselves on a “wheelchair friendly trail”. It leads to a viewing point. We rest there for five minutes or so. The winter solstice is past and I am tempted to think I can feel the daylight stretching out on days like this where I cannot imagine the forecast rains and storms arriving before the end of the day. But then I am very often wrong when guessing the coming weather.

Breath regained – it was an engine-testing climb* up the gritty slope – we set off again, heading towards the car and the café-or-home  decision. The path skirts a Scots pine plantation and we are suddenly in the middle of a small flurry of birds. Blue tits I recognise first. Great tits too. And as they helicopter busily around us in the bright air I notice a pair, no three goldcrests. It seems they are unaware of our presence, or not concerned by us as they sweep in and out of the wood margins. They are glamorous. And this is the second time I have been Flash-Mobbed by birds (see https://mucktwineandthinker.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/charmed/ ). Then as I look more closely I am truly not sure whether these birds are not firecrests. That would be s first! They are not usually found in this part of the U.K. but then, winds have been strong. One bird that I do recognise is a nuthatch; part of the flock that still swirls around us: feathered Brownian motion. It is delightful, a tiny time of magic. If we had walked faster, gone a different route, spent less time at the panorama platform we would have missed this experience.

There is a long, well-behaved queue for coffee and cake in the café, so we head out after a quick look around the visitor’s centre, adding the safer “goldcrest” to the sightings board.

A fine accident of time and feet.

Happy New Year!

*Not part of the wheelchair walk.


Images: Cannock Chase http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk

Goldcrest www.sssssurfbirds.com


One response to this post.

  1. Fantastic little birds 🙂


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