As the weather gets warmer and drier during spring and the countryside begins to bloom, I always like to set myself the goal of getting out into it as much as possible. I like to use these countryside walks as a way to calm my own mind and escape the stresses of modern day-to-day life. In particular, I am always drawn back to the woodlands and forests, with the tranquillity they breath to me. Growing up in Dorset I have always been able to disappear into the trees and appreciate such a habitat at any time of year.
In celebration of my love of the woods, especially during springtime, over April and May this year, I made 4 visits to one of my local ones to observe it as the season changed. On these trips I sat and wrote down my experience on my favourite log (see photo above), and took lots of photos with my new DSLR camera whilst walking through the woods. Check out below to see my diary entries and the photos that accompany them:
1: Signs of spring
- Date: Friday 12th April
- Time of day: Mid-morning
- Highlight: Seeing the first bluebells emerging in the woods
Today I made my first trip of the year to my local woods, walking across the countryside to get there. The sun is shining down upon me in its glorious spring style, but it has to be said that there is still a chill on the breeze.
The woods are noticeably just beginning to take on their spring splendour with the woodland floor coming to life. Bluebells are starting to flower, wood anemones are dotted here and there, and celandines, primroses and stitchwort are spreading through the undergrowth. The hazel trees are coming into leaf, as are the oak trees, with small soft bunches of leaves hanging above my head. Everything is now lush and green, with winter now being fully forgotten.
Spring bird calls and song provides the soundtrack to my trip, including everything from groups of foraging long-tailed tits to angry blue tits and charismatic chiff chaffs. I also hear the reminiscent winter squabbling of jays, and on a stop to my favourite log in the middle of the wood, I can hear the coarser call of a raven and the calls of male pheasants.
When turning my eyes to the ground around me, it becomes apparent that the undergrowth is full of bees and flies buzzing between the flowers, the most notable being furry bee flies. Looking at the undergrowth around me, it does make me think how if you just stop for one moment and take in your surroundings, you will always find that everything is alive around you.
When sat in this wood, I feel away from all the hub bub and stress of everyday life. It gives me the opportunity to see this world through the glass of a lens, whilst still getting excited about everything new I see. Thus, I believe everyone should have the opportunity to have their own escape into nature, such as amongst the trees, flowers and wildlife, to be able to recharge and refresh.
2: Sunrise start
- Date: Friday 19th April
- Time of day: Early morning
- Highlight: Sunrise
This morning I chose to get up at 5am to meet a 6.08am sunrise, and to make the most of the dawn light. At this time of day, on my walk to the woods, I had great sightings of roe deer and brown hare, and got to see a beautiful pink sunrise. The dewy grass added to my photos in this glorious light.
The wood definitely did not disappoint, blanketed in the warm golden tones of dawn. The sunlight falling through the trees was spectacular, especially at this time of year when a mix of well known flower species carpet the woodland floor. I was also greeted by the dawn chorus in full swing, with great tits, robins, blackbirds and lots more adding their voices to the mix.
Snow white garlic flowers are now emerging in the wood, whilst early purple orchids are also beginning to sprout here and there. The bluebells are now starting to create a sea of blue, with their white counterparts dotted here and there amongst them. Soon the woods will be fully awash with purply-blue and patches of white.
You can definitely forget yourself among these trees, flowers and wildlife, which this morning included the bark of grey squirrels up in the tree canopy. Today, I have stayed awhile sat in the morning light of the woods, but I now know to make my way home from here, as the sun begins to burn through the trees a little too hot, and the midges begin to bite my neck more noticeably. This signals ‘the best part of the day has thus moved on’, as i must.
3: Walking with a four-legged friend
- Date: Friday 10th May
- Time of day: Morning
- Highlight: The company of my dog Cassie
On my trip this time to the woods, I took my four-legged friend Cassie. At the ripe old age of 13, she is becoming weary on her legs, but is still up for an adventure. This is great as there is nothing better than sharing the wonder of the outdoors with another being, even if they are no more than 3 feet tall.
By this time, the woods are now dressed in light green leaves of varying shapes and sizes. The woodland floor is also becoming rich with vegetation. My favourites, the bluebells, are now beginning to go over, with their best time being a week ago. Though the thought of the end of this year’s bluebells makes me sad, I also find that there is something beautiful in seeing their fading colour and shrivelling bell-shaped flowers. Instead they are being replaced by the unfurling of fern fronds and a carpet of green. Now the orchids are out in full force , as are the flowers of wild garlic, yellow archangel, and dainty pink herb robert.
The birds still sing in full force, with the usual suspects in place, but now they are joined by the caws of rooks and chatter of jackdaws. The woodland floor is now also full with the noise of flying insects buzzing between the flowers in all their shapes and sizes. For my canine friend and myself, the woods are still giving us endless pleasure as the season rolls on.
4: The death of spring
- Date: Saturday 25th May
- Time of day: Afternoon
- Highlight: The changing of the season
The days are getting hotter and the sun higher in the May sky. In the depths of the wood though, the canopy keeps me cool. The woodland floor is now a tangle of unruly vegetation. The dying bluebells, orchids, and spring flowers jostle with unfurling ferns, sticky goose grass and flowers that persist. These include stitchwort, herb Robert, and red campion, which are gems of colour in a sea of green.
Looking up, hazel leaves make a blanket of lace above my head as the work of busy invertebrates is now noticeable by this point. On the ground, brown speckled wood butterflies flit, flies still buzz, and bejewelled light green beetles fall on me as they dive bomb from the trees.
Ash trees are finally fully in leaf and roe deer ramble lazily between the trees around me. Though this transition period may be more subtle than others, it truly signifies the changing of the seasons, as the important time for some species is replaced by the next. Thus, summer has now crept up on us!
How the woodland made its transition