Last Friday I was wrapped up against the cold watching cricket, fast forward a week and the summer has arrived and it was back to the shorts and t-shirts I was last wearing at the end of March. This evening we went for a walk around Old Down Wood. There was a quite fresh breeze blowing as we walked along Brislands, disturbing the cow parsley that was now dominant along the road side. As we walked into the wood it was also now taking over the entrance along with the nettles.
The woods were now covered in very thick foliage, with the beech trees pretty much in full leaf. This made the areas under the trees dark, but interspersed with patches of sunlight that would pick out the odd piece of bracken and light it up. We took the perimeter path to the west, the bluebells are have now mostly all died back, and it leaves the wood floor looking quite desolate. It reminded me of the scenes after an event has taken place, either in a stadium or the streets, the remains of what was a wonderful experience and all that is left are reminders.
With the bluebells all but gone, it now remains for the smaller flowers to maintain a show. Field Mouse-Ear, Archangel and Wild Garlic were doing their best. Unfortunately our search for orchids again proved unsuccesful. Away from the desolation of the bluebells there was a very nice patch of Field Mouse-Ear, that with the dappled sunlight looked like stars against the darker background.
With the easterly breeze the air was very clear, and at the west end you could see across the downs for a very long way. A few Buzzard were soaring around over the tops of the trees, and every so often a swallow would fly low across the cereal fields that are now showing a significant growth. We walked back down the main track, pausing to look at the fields, both of us never tire of the view looking south and west from the boundary of Old Down Wood, no matter what season, what weather, or what time of day it always looks stunning. Those that live along Swelling Hill, and can take this view in every day are very lucky!
We were going to head back through the wood towards Gradwell. There was little bird song about, and the wood sounded very quiet. The sunlight continued to find it's way to the floor of the wood in certain areas creating some lovely scenes, this one looks like a staircase coming down through the trees.
We walked out of the wood at the Gradwell footpath, a Whitethroat was singing by the paddocks again, and the Swallows continued to fly out in a loop from the paddock, going around the fields, and back. Walking along Brislands the Copper Beech proved an attraction again, contrasting against the new leaves of the Ash tree, and the beautiful blue sky.
Nothing special this evening, just a relaxing walk and the opportunity to wind down from a busy week, and to look forward to what promises to be a warm and sunny weekend.