Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Last Laugh

In the park where I walk, there is an avenue of old oak trees that are over 500 years old.  Each year, another tree shows signs of age and sadly, disease with the thinning of the crown. Each winter, another bough will crash down from one or more of the trees. Each walk, I marvel at how fortunate I am to be able to enjoy the amazing ecosystem that is supported within these majestic icons of the British countryside.

Today was no different.

Whilst mutt, as usual, had her head firmly planted down a rabbit hole at the root of a tree, I had my head tipped back to look up into the branches of the tree.

It was impossible for me to ignore the loud hammering from a branch way up above me, followed by a similar hammering, just as an echo, from somewhere on the other side of the park. 

It could only be one thing - woodpeckers (green or great-spotted I am not sure but woodpeckers none-the-less). It is difficult enough to see these birds up in a tree at the best of times, as they are experts at moving around to the other side of the branch from the viewer. Today, it was even more difficult due to the overcast conditions, so although it wasn't a good visual day, it was certainly a good audio day. As I tried to see where the bird was playing hide-and-seek, a tremendous commotion took place above me as two more woodpeckers landed in the tree and a territorial spat broke out.

No sooner had these two bully-boys arrived, than they were off again, their distinctive bouncy flight giving their departure away. As all activity died down again, one last defiant 'laughing' call rang out around the park.

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