For me bushcraft has always been a way to get closer to nature and one of my favorite pastimes is mooching around a wood just to see what’s going on. Here in the south East of England snow is on the ground for only a few days each year.
This makes the one or two days when there is a fresh snowfall extra special as you can see exactly what’s around and what they’ve been up to.
Sunday morning was one of these mornings so after a quick mug of tea, I made an early start along the snowy lane.
Heading up onto the North Downs the only sign of humans were the tractor tracks left by the farmer dropping off hay for the sheep wintering up there. Animal life, on the other hand, could be seen everywhere!
Earlier the fox trotted his way along the woodland ride, zigzagging as scents pulled him this way and that. Further up the ride, he stopped and put his nose to the ground – perhaps a mouse or shrew under the snow?
Bounding squirrel tracks cut across the ride and stop abruptly at a large oak where his journey continued upwards. A bird, the size of a blackbird or thrush, landed here and hopped a good ten feet before taking off. If you look carefully you’ll see her wing marks in the snow.
The picture at the top shows the marks in the snow left by a wood pigeon I’d guess – the impression was the right shape and size. Photographing tracks like these in the snow when the sky is overcast is quite tricky but you should be able to make out where the pigeon sat and the wing marks as it took off.
Of course, this whole incredible story plays out every single day in every single wood and field. It’s just not normally as easy to see it.