Winters Bushcraft Walk 

When I was asked to write a blog for the Woodland Ways website, I must admit the first thing that I thought of was something to do with trees, as trees are of a personal passion and of great interest to myself and as a part of my day-to-day work. After losing our family dog called Woden just after the New Year, I thought I would share his and my little bushcraft walk around our local village and as my wife Em never really came with us on these little walks with us, I decided to take Em along and show her the route we would take and things we would encounter along our favoured route.

Em is eager and waiting for the walk Photo Credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

So, one wintery Saturday off we went from for our walk through the many environments that surround us in our Herefordshire village. I must admit that we are lucky enough to live in an old ramshackle cottage in a conifer woodland and surrounded by an immense countryside.

Off we go on our winter bushcraft walk Photo Credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

Off we went but before we even got going, I have to stop as the first thing myself and Em encountered was the young self-seeded sapling of a Sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus) with its young spring green buds awaiting to burst forth into its fresh leaves. sycamores are a very useful bushcraft tree from carving projects to the tick like side branches for camp craft projects.

A young self-seeded Sycamore with its Snowdrop neighbours Photo Credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

Then down the track we head towards the second conifer block plantation and onto our well-worn deer trail that leads us through the conifers to the public footpath that will take us to the open field.

Just a couple yards down through the tall conifers we came across signs of a rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) feeding signs and their scat, but what was quite fascinating with fox (Vulpes vulpes) droppings on top of the rabbits scrubbed out soil heap, probably which the fox may have deposited here as a territory marking for their area here.

Rabbit feeding signs and droppings and fox dropping Photo Credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

Further on through the Conifers we come across more possible signs of Mr Fox as we find recent pigeon (Columba palumbus) feathers sprawled across the woodland floor. I presume them to be a fox because the feathers are gummed up and not plucked out by a bird of prey.

Rabbit fur and a feather ingested fox scat Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

 Then a few meters away from this animal feeding activity, we come across more signs of fox and rabbit. We find a clump of rabbit fur and some rabbit droppings beside a feather ingested fox droppings, after spending some time looking at these finds and for other animal signs in the surrounding area, we gently stroll onwards and down wards through the last of the conifer trees and out through the edged mixed woodland.

Leaving the Conifer block Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

 We go onwards again on our walk towards the open field that can change from year to year depending on what the land owner has in store for it and this could be either crops, such as maize and corn, or just left for grass for sheep to graze upon. Which I must admit was a shock to me as Woden being a half Husky and half Malamute with the mentality of a full Wolf. Woden only saw fresh lively food! So, this was one walk that turned into a very quick march at something that could be classed by the untrained eye as a semi at heel as I tried to get to the other side of this vast field as he became every increasing excited at the thought of the fluffy food readily available around him.

Into the field we go Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

Today Em and I came across another predator stalking this wintery grassy field. The remnants of another wood pigeon as its feathers were splayed out across the grass quickly caught my eye, so we strolled across to investigate who and what was responsible on this kill, and yet again we find that the pigeon feathers were all gummed up, so it is another sign of a mammal predator stalking pigeons in the proximity.

Scattered pigeon feathers Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

After studying these signs for a while then we start to head down this field, whilst we carry on looking for other bushcraft related subjects along our walk. Just before we reach the bottom of the field, we discover some deer tracks left imprinted in the soggy mud, closely studying these signs with the helpful aid of a green filtered torch we decide that these tracks are more than likely left by a passing muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi). Probably the one who now and then passes through our garden but never long enough for me to capture it on film or on photo.

Muntjac tracks highlighted by green light Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

After discussing the muntjacs quirky gestation period to Em we then begin to head slowly upwards and uphill of the field and to myself and Woden’s little stop on our walk. As we reach the top of the field and by the style that we lead us out of the field we come across the badly pruned hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) tree that sits astride, by the style. Also known as the May-tree, due to its time of flowering. This is the only native British tree named after the month which it blooms.

The Hawthorn tree Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

In spring you can always tell the difference between blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and hawthorn, is that the blackthorn will always flower before the hawthorn as hawthorn will come to leaf before the blackthorn and flower after blackthorn has come into leaf in the month of May.                                                                                                                                           

Until we meet again Photo credit: Andrew Mark Morrey

As we both clamber over the old wooden style that separates the two fields Em and I find ourselves at Woden’s and my stopping point on our little bushcraft walk. As this is a natural stopping point on our journey and that I can now hear the Woodland Ways beating drums that this blog is ready for its deadline for this blog to be posted. So, I think I will stop here.

I hope you enjoed the bushcraft walk so far, below is some useful ID information:

Tree ident by the woodland trust:

Poo ident by the Mammal society:

Tracks ident by the Mammal society:

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