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Winter in the woodland.

20th December 2020 @ 6:06am – by Charles Bradley
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My walks with Bertie in the woodland have become more and more muddy as December has progressed. We seem to have had a great deal of rain and, in places, our walk reminds me of the "paddling pool" which existed behind the school throughout each winter a dozen years ago. The first of the Trust's grant-aided schemes has mostly cured that (although, when walking past the school towards Hockenhull Lane, it is possible to tell where the drains end and the muddy surface really begins – which is when going uphill behind Heath Close!) The most badly affected section of the path at present seems to be at the Townfield Lane end of the woodland – the section that has previously been most consistently dry.

Many of the trees in the woodland have lost their foliage entirely and stand like sticks silhouetted against the few others which seem to have just developed their autumn colour and are going to need a a few good, sharp frosts and even more high wind to part their leaves from the branches. The effectiveness with which the wind has taken the dead leaves off many of the trees is shown by the soggy mass of slimy leaves which are covering parts of the path. They may be slippery but they are not muddy, which means that they are not responsible for very much of the clinging dirt that Bertie brings home after each visit.
Previously, I would have enjoyed the rustling of the leaves but the rustle has now been replaced by a squelch!

tcw guelder rose berries

It is very noticeable that the berries on hawthorn, guelder rose and yew have already begun being consumed by birds. Providing food for the birds within our woodland is one of our objectives and, each year, we plant additional trees that will develop berries. At present our holly trees seem to have scarcely lost any of their berries at all! At Christmas, we love having well-berried branches on display in our homes. Holly and mistletoe (which, regrettably, we do not have) are traditionally used. Ivy, too, is sung about in our carols and is a favourite with flower arrangers at this time of year.

twt english ivy berries

However, what are for us attractive ornaments during the festive season can be crucial foodstuffs for woodland creatures during harsh weather. Please don't take home with you any of our well-berried holly, even though it would make a beautiful addition to your decorations. Leave it for the birds.
This can be a small act of abstinence that is a part of your Christmas gift to the other creatures who share God's creation with us.

Happy Christmas!

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