Over the new year I thought it would be good to have a bit of a series on the blog and I am going to follow a habitat or two during the year. So we start with Menstrie Woods. Everything featured in this post was taken or recorded in January 2022.
Come back next month to see a February focus. Think of this as our local Winter Watch.
This month, I set the wildlife camera trap up high in the woods by a fallen tree also fairly near a source of water. At the end of the month I had a nice selection of different animals putting in an appearance as you can see from the selection below. The very last clip is the best so do make sure you check that out.
We are very lucky to have Fox, Badger and Pine Martin in the wood. Just knowing they are there really cheers me up.
A walk in the woods
One Sunday, I took a long walk in the woods with my camera to see what was about. It is difficult to get birds on the camera trap, as they are too small, so the camera is a better bet to share about the birdlife.
We weren’t long in the woods by the wooden play park when we heard a Great-Spotted Woodpecker calling. This wasn’t the drumming sound but a short sharp “Kick! Kick!”. We looked up and saw it in the tree and followed it for a few minutes. A great start to the walk.
We started up the hill to the higher woods on the small path. It is slippy all the way but worth it to get away from the main track and gardens and see what is about in the heart of the woods. A mixed tit flock flew through including Blue Tit and Coal Tit but also the lovely Long-Tailed Tit.
Continuing along the high path, I was delighted to see first one and then a second Treecreeper high in the trees. Watching them I could see their characteristic behaviour whereby they would climb up a tree and then fly down to the bottom of another before repeating the process. I was able to get a few reasonable shots showing them well in the warm light. You can see their huge claws useful for their climbing activities.
Next up we came to some nice fungi on a fallen tree. I have noticed this before but it looked better this time in the warm light. The moss and the fungi seemed to have reached an accommodation with each other as nature often does.
A few Roe Deer ran from below me through the woods circled around and once they had the high ground slowed down. With several trees in between us I couldn’t get a great shot (but this one will do). They are fairly cautious creatures and they always seem to know I am there before I see them. I guess I make too much noise. Closer views on the video above if you want to see them better.
The next thing I hear are the screams and screeches from a couple of Jays. This horror sound track is quite distinctive whilst the bird is quite secretive and skulking.
Certainly these birds are easier to hear than see. For a bird that I think of as pink with a lovely blue wing-bar, it is mostly the white I notice when they are on the move. Once you know they are about it is possible to get some distant views but they don’t really allow me to approach and with trees always between us and them constantly hoping and flying about it is very hard to focus. Here are two shots that certainly won’t be winning any awards. Perhaps I need to find time to just sit in the woods to get closer footage of them. I might wait for a warmer month for that.
We start to descend back towards the main path at the Blairlogie end of the wood. A flock of Redwing are moving above my head. These are lovely winter thrushes easily missed but often found foraging on the ground in the winter. As well as the red flank (not really the wing) the bold creamy stripe above the eye is diagnostic.
We get back to the path and walk back towards Menstrie. Just before the highpoint (after if you have Menstrie behind you) there is a feeder to the south of the path. I often sit here and see what turns up. Robins, Chaffinch, Long-Tailed, Coal, Blue and Great Tits are all seen today. Plus I have also seen Woodpeckers, Tree Creeper and Nuthatch here too in the past.
Just before I leave I am delighted to see a Nuthatch high in the branches clinging to the tree. I follow it and fire off several shots of this enigmatic bird as it creeps up and down (only a nuthatch creeps down a tree).
The last bird I see is a Grey Heron. Not really a woodland bird but where there is water you find a Heron looking for small fish or frogs as it is today. I always feel pleased when I can take a photo of a bird and leave it without causing it to fly off. I manage this with the Heron today.
I really enjoyed checking out Menstrie Woods this January, I hope you enjoyed it too. Come back next month to see what is about in February.