| Days of heavy rain have left the ancient woodland sodden|
|The first coal tit flies down to inspect us within seconds of the car door opening as we park at Cadmans Pool. Perched on a holly branch less than two metres away, it surveys us carefully, pivots to examine us from a different angle, and then moves to another branch to repeat the routine. By then it is being joined by more coal tits, great tits, and blue tits. All come to examine us, but only briefly. The chaffinches keep their distance, a nuthatch puts in a fleeting appearance before vanishing into the throng of birds within the margins of Anses ancient pasture woodland. A cock blackbird calls in alarm and, as we watch, he and others reveal their presence by flicking fallen leaves into the air as they search for insects.|
Days of heavy rain have left the forest sodden. It's possible to walk through the woods with unaccustomed quietness but we see nothing that an autumnal crunch would have frightened away. Just within the trees we find a raised rectangular enclosure but can find no explanation for it. Could this be one of the bee gardens used in days past when hives were moved into embanked enclosures on the edges of the heaths to take full advantage of the nectar-rich heather?
Close by, we come across a live but decrepit oak. Its trunk has been home to at least five families of woodpeckers and high up there are the beginnings of a sixth hole. Lower down, seeds are wedged into cracks in the bark, a sign that this is a nuthatch's larder. Though its large trees are oaks and beeches, Anses Wood has a profusion of hollies, some of them very old. At first sight these all seem to be male bushes, for there's not a berry to be seen. We know that's not true when we roll a log and discover some under it. Alerted, we look more closely and, later, come across a bush with just a few red spots to stud its dark green foliage. Evidently the birds have already enjoyed a seasonal fare. We leave hoping these woods hold a winter provision for them that we have not seen.