Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Down in the Wintery Beech Woods

Thursday was dry and cold, between days of rain and storms.
Late in the day, we walked along the valley and up towards the beech woods, through a small mixed wood where moss and silver bark shone in the afternoon light.

New foxglove leaves had emerged in sheltered places.

Deep green holly grew among bare trees.............

.....and the gold of lambs-tail hazel catkins, brightened high branches in the lane.

Across  valley pastures where ponies grazed, we could see heath and woodland of open Forest, on higher ground beyond.

Down the lane, into the beechwoods, were the two tall beeches that would have witnesses the old London coaches driving through, in centuries gone by. This is a winter view of my blog header photograph.

Beside the track, remains of felled or dying trees took on strange shapes.

Here is the "Man in the tree".

A whole, mature beech had fallen since we last walked here.

As we reached the track that winds uphill towards the next wood, we realised that Whisper Dog was tiring. Turning back, we found that the group of ponies by the wooden bridge had decided to follow.

These two were cropping fresh moss and grass beside a stream.

An afternoon of sun had brought out the woodland flies. The chestnut pony was bothered by ear flies and shook her head as she walked.

She and her companions followed us back to a junction in the paths and they turned away then, up towards the gorse thickets beside the marsh.

We left the steam and the beechwoods, making our way home with a tired old dog and all of us enjoying the last hour of cooling wintery sun.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bright Forest Morning

Today has been so bitterly cold again. This has been a week of east winds, snow and ice. Last Tuesday was such a different day. A false spring arrived to fool us that winter had almost gone.

In the valley bottom, local New Forest ponies dozed in a bright, warm, mid morning sun. In their pair bonds and family groups, one pony will always stay on her feet, on guard, while her friend lies down to sleep. Baggage, the grumpy old pony, relaxed beside her dark bay companion.

Snowy was bleached pure white by the sunlight and overlooked her black friend, who slept on a bed of dry grass and bracken.

One of the Three Little Maids stretched in the sun as she became more alert at our approach.

An older silver birch tree.

Bare branches and lichen shining green in the light.

The oldest ash tree in the valley.

Gorse was in flower again, after the dull green of mid winter.........

....and a few early honey bees buzzed and fed on the nectar of yellow blooms.

An old, misshapen oak shone at the edge of the woods.

Beautiful birches, filigreed against the sky.......

....and sharp green moss around the ash tree`s roots.

We circled the hill and came back along the valley bottom. Old Baggage got to her feet and wandered down to see us.

The wilding crab apple, festooned now with lichen, will soon be a mass of pink blossom again.

Almost home, and our Grey One`s half sister came across the green to follow us along the muddy lane.

Later that morning, I saw my first yellow Brimstone butterfly of the year.

Thank you, as ever, to all of you  who visit and leave comments on my blog.