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A diary entry from the countryside: Above, the winter foliage; below, the budding spring plants. Written by Amanda Thomson.
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A diary entry from the countryside: Above, the winter foliage; below, the budding spring plants. Written by Amanda Thomson.


Today, there is more birdsong in the pinewoods. The Great spotted woodpeckers have been drumming since the start of the year, while groups of redpolls continue to move from birch to birch. Among the songs of coal and blue tits, you can also hear the lovely tinkling of cresties. When I return after being away, I am always surprised at how the pinewoods remain a vibrant green throughout the winter. While the birches and alders turn a beautiful maroon in these months, the pines and junipers hold onto their color. Despite the strong winds, the light green of lichens can still be seen on branches, although more of them are now scattered on the paths covered in rusty pine needles.

Despite it only being February, I am encouraged by the sight of new spring growth emerging. The gentle, clover-like leaves of wood sorrel are starting to appear among the undergrowth. This fragile plant, once called cuckoo sorrel or cuckoo’s mea, was named after the cuckoo bird because its flowers often appear when the cuckoo returns. Another tale suggests that the cuckoo acquired its distinct call after consuming this plant. While I may have to wait a bit longer to see their lovely flowers in the woodlands, the appearance of these leaves symbolizes the promise of brighter days ahead.

A strange noise captures my attention, a peculiar bird call that I am unable to identify. I follow the sound until I reach its origin – a fallen tree delicately balancing on the branches of another tree. The unfamiliar, high-pitched squeaks resemble both bird songs and the sound of a fiddle, created by the rubbing of the trunk against the branch during powerful gusts of wind. I notice several other trees in similar positions, some even breaking in the middle or completely falling over.

As I make my way home, I come across a massive Scots pine that has been cut down. Curious, I climb into the ditch where it used to stand and notice that its root base, now standing upright, reaches a height of at least 10 feet. I am aware that this will serve as a perfect dusting spot for the capercaillies who reside in this area, and that as these fallen trees decompose, they will create new environments, sustaining the surrounding forest and welcoming new life in the upcoming spring season.

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Winter pines in the Abernethy Forest, ScotlandView image in fullscreen

Source: theguardian.com