Broadlands in Winter

This is a piece I wrote for work.

The leaves have fallen from the trees at Broadlands, and nature is laid bare. The Red Admiral, Brimstone and Orange Tip butterflies that were here in spring have all disappeared into hibernation, and the songs of our summer migrant birds, the Chiffchaff and Blackcap, have faded away and been replaced with the chirps of Redpoll and the seeping calls of the Redwing. The sky, which just a few months ago was filled Swifts and House Martins, is now a highway for gulls moving between feeding sites and flocks of thrushes, wagtails and finches going to roost.

Through the trees I spot a small family group of Roe Deer browsing in the arable fields. As I move closer a Buzzard is flushed from its perch in an oak tree, hitherto camouflaged by its brown and pale hues. A Great Spotted Woodpecker gives its sharp 'kick!' call, and a Green Woodpecker 'yaffles' in the distance. A bird is soaring high up above me. The low sun illuminates its deep rufous colours, and a forked tail tells me that this is a Red Kite.

 

I wander along the tree line where squirrels are scuttling up and down trees preparing for winter. All of a sudden, the canopy becomes busy with the chatter of birds. Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits are roving through the trees in search of small insects and caterpillars. There’s safety in numbers. Amongst the cacophony of noise, a distinctive sound stands out to me; there is a Marsh Tit in the flock. In this moment I'm reminded that all our birds are in rapid decline from habitat loss and climate change, but the beautiful sound of the Marsh Tit will not let hope escape me.


In a flash a small hawk appears from above the building and dives out of sight. The next moment alarms call from the flock are reverberating through the trees. The hawk, a Sparrowhawk, relies on stealth to capture its prey, but its cover has now been broken. Uplifted by the privilege of working in such pleasing surroundings, I turn to head back to my warm office.


Broadlands


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