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Woodland – Mother Nature as Artist, Sculptor, and Scribe.

A winter wander around our local woodland patch within the grounds of the National Trust’s Attingham Park got off to a strange start. Expecting the cold weather to have restricted visitors to a few hardy souls, we arrived to see the main car park full, all overflow parking fields full and lots of extra parking also filling up rapidly.

We had arrived just after the start of their first Christmas related event – The Frost Fair. Bad planning! However the woodlands were quiet, the only sounds following us around were the songs of small and squeaky birds, Coal Tits, Treecreepers and Goldcrests.


The event we searched out was the art exhibition of the works of Mother Nature. She was her usual brilliant imaginative self.

Her woodcarving looked freshly made and full of texture and colour.


This piece looks to be based on the shapes of a crab’s claw.



Drawings on the cut trunks of a diseased Ash tree reminded me of cave paintings.





This triangular land art installation shows Mother Nature working in a more geometric way.


As the woodland path took us deeper in amongst the trees we appreciated the quietness of our footfalls, the quietness of the soft deep pine needle duvet. When it is quiet the subtleties of bird songs and calls are more easily enjoyed. We stood feet away from a Goldcrest feeding on insects he had searched out from the conifer needles with thin probing beak. He suddenly fell to the floor as if dead, or mimicking the gentleness of a falling leaf. He dropped into the fern and bramble undergrowth and stayed there out of sight. Was he feigning death to fool a predator or pretending to be a falling leaf with the same purpose in mind? As we stood silently in awe of what we had witnessed he reappeared vertically up into the branch he had fallen out of. One of those magical moments that two observers of the natural world will never forget! Any idea what he may have been up to?




Nature playing with light fascinated us as the sun dropped lower in the thin blue sky lighting up the understory  with golds and oranges.






Water, be it a stream, ditch, river or pool, affords nature the chance of playing with mirrors to create illusions and mysteries.




On the land shadows are drawn long and dark. The long tall tree shadow stretches out across the pastureland. My own shadow tried to get in the picture until I managed to persuade it to move into the shadow of one of the tree trunks.


The shadow of the precariously leaning seat crossed our path as we approached the gap in the tall wall that would take us into the productive gardens.


The climbing, curling tendrils of this vine glow pink and red in the sunlight, forming a natural frame for the filigree skeletons of trees.



We greatly enjoyed our visit to the open air gallery.


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A Walk in the Park – with snowdrops.

Today as the weather has warmed up and the sun is seeping through a thin cloud layer, we decided to take a twenty-minute drive out to Attingham Park for a walk through the woodlands where snowdrops are the stars in February. It was half-term so the woods were colourful, bright coloured anoraks, scarves and hats as families took to the paths. Every child seemed to have found a suitable rustic walking stick from the undergrowth. It was great to see young families out enjoying the natural world.

As we passed through the stable block the sound of vigorous hammering filled the air echoing around us. A noisy coffee break but we enjoyed watching youngsters wielding hammers busily constructing nest boxes. A great idea from the National Trust. Every family leaving Attingham today has at least one child clutching proudly a newly built nest box.

Once into the wood itself we seemed to be guided along by Robins who entertained us with their songs.

The snowdrops are small this year and very slow to develop. Many are just at the early bud stage and those that have come our sport small blooms. The swathes under the tall bare deciduous trees were far less vibrant than expected so the beauty was to be found in the little clumps hidden away deeper into the  woods.

But there was far more to the woods than Snowdrops and the temptation to photograph the textures and patterns found there was easily given in to.

The earliest of woodland shade loving plants are beginning to appear taking advantage of the light filtering through the veil of bare branches above them. The arrow shaped leaves of the Cuckoo Pint are glossy and shine out amongst in the monochrome leaf litter.

Leaving the woodland we took a track across the Deer Park. A warden appeared on a mini tractor closely followed by herds of excited deer. The tractor was pulling a trailer full of feed! This was an unexpected opportunity to see the park’s deer close up.

The deer may be the biggest and most obvious creatures here but the littlest are also of equal importance. Where the trust have been clearing dead and damaged trees they have taken the opportunity of creating habitats such as log piles, brash stacks etc to attract insects and invertebrates and small mammals. The woods here are now well-known for the population of Lesser Stag Beetles. In some places fallen branches and larger trunks are left to rot away to become hosts to fungi and multitudes of minibeasts.

This fungus seems to be leaking from the cracks in the dead bark, like woodworker’s glue seeping from a joint.

This dead tree left standing for fungi, invertebrates and insects looks dramatic alone in a clear area of parkland. Woodpeckers will enjoy attacking the peeling bark and rotting wood in search of tasty morsels.