Thursday, 28 July 2011

Green woodpeckers

I have been over in a wood in the west of the Borders. It is private. A private space in an otherwise land of open walking. In Scotland, you have the right of way. Unless specifically told not to. Here you are told not to.

I have been living in the wood for the past few weeks. They know me in the pub even. It has been relatively easy to keep clean and tidy. I have surprised myself.

I have been waiting for green woodpeckers.

They are a large bird. And they live in this wood in numbers. You can hear their cry going from tree to tree. And in quite open places, you think you must see them. But I haven't.

Just the laughing cry that gives their old name of yaffle.

What makes the wood so attractive to them (and me) is the leas within it. Open clearings, mown flat, and surrounded by wild geranium, foxgloves still out in shady places, shot dog's mercury and russian grass and ragwort that has stolen in from the surrounding fields. The deer, whom I encounter often, keep the centre of the clearings green and short like a lawn. It is like a garden.

And I expect the woodpeckers. They like to ground feed I know.

I have met people on the road who have seen them close by. But whatever glade I choose, the ash tree, the newty pond, the balsam. The laughing cry comes from elsewhere.

I have become light and clean waiting for them. I have surprised myself.

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