Since 2007 I have been visiting Peterley Wood and the adjoining farmland at Prestwood in Bucks to carry out my breeding bird survey for the British Trust for Ornithology. So it was strange to return there in winter, to walk the same route for the farmland-bird survey. I explained this survey when I described my Stokenchurch walk here.
It was a grey, misty day with nothing to commend it except it wasn’t raining. The woods were drab and muddy. Normally, when I start at 6am in spring the woods are alive with birdsong. Today they were quiet except for some tits, chaffinches and a goldcrest.
The road through the village was far busier than it is when I come soon after dawn. The Polecat Inn is much changed.
The little meadow behind the pub, where I have seen mallard and moorhen, was a building site. But there were three redwings in the bushes to the right of the path.
I crossed the meadows, again very different. Whereas in summer the grass can be long and damp now it was short and devoid of cattle.
At the start of the second transect I normally see a yellowhammer, but I scanned the hedge in vain. However to compensate, in the far distance there were fieldfares in the trees.
An ash tree had fallen in the parkland. Wrens were calling from a bramble patch in the centre of the park.
As I entered woods again I found evidence of a sparrowhawk’s work.
A great tit was singing ridiculously early but otherwise it was mainly robins and blackbirds, with three jays having an argument in the trees.
I shall return in January, February and March to repeat this survey. Then it will be springtime and I’ll be up at dawn for the breeding bird survey—and the wood will be noisy once more