Rural Reading - Urban woodland full of surprisesBy Adrian Lawson
November 13, 2009
On one day this week I was lucky to have a chance to visit two completely different woodlands.
One was full of majestic beech trees, on the edge of the Chilterns, with views over the farmland all around.
The other was a similar size but on a hill top between three housing estates, and full of oaks and limes and sweet chestnuts
The beech wood was glorious; the leaves turning golden brown as the autumn wears on, and falling like soft rain as we walked through.
The stumps of trees felled recently were sprouting a variety of fungi, but the woods were silent. We came across one party of chaffinches foraging on the floor, but we only noticed them as they flew up on our approach and they called from high in the branches above.
This was a woodland managed for wood – all the trees that had been felled had been taken away to make fine furniture. Some branches were left after the trunks were left to rot, but the lower branches of most of the trees had been trimmed to encourage tall straight trees.
There were a few piles of branches with twee little notices about how they were special habitats for beetles and fungi.
The other wood was full of trees of different type and size and shape. Several trees were rotting hulks full of holes and broken branches. Some areas were densely overgrown and the woods were claustrophobic, other parts had great tall trees and were light and airy.
Many trees had fallen and were left to rot, and as most had fallen a while ago they were a mass of fungi on this damp autumnal day.
The tree tops were full of birds coming and going, the occasional chirp of a greater spotted woodpecker, or the fluting call of the nuthatch could be heard among the chatter of countless blue, great and long tailed tits.
Occasionally at the edge of the wood I was reminded I was deep in Tilehurst. In the woods in the Chilterns I looked over arable fields, and I met one well to do couple with their spaniels.
In Tilehurst I met a mum with her kids and a little terrier, some teenagers on their bikes and a bloke walking home with bags of shopping, taking a pleasant detour.
I surprised myself, the little urban woodland was nice place to go.