Ups & Downs


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Tuesday, 1st January, 2008


IT’S A DAMP, misty start to the new year rather than the cold, crisp day we might have hoped for but we set off on a short walk just the same. It’s good to hear that silence again – the silence that descends on this busy corner of West Yorkshire only on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

At breakfast-time, a grey squirrel bounds across the lawn then stops and studies the shepherd’s crook bird-feeder pole. It starts shinning up and manages to get half way but then, unable to get sufficient grip on the smooth wet surface, it slides back, like a fireman sliding slowly down a pole. It glances at the withered stem of a foxglove but evidently concludes that won’t give it access to the feeders so it continues up into the hawthorn hedge and surveys the possibilities that our neighbours’ garden has on offer.

treecreeperOn the trunk of the crab apple by the pond, a treecreeper looks like a streaky brown arboreal mouse as it creeps, pauses and investigates. It would be well camouflaged if it wasn’t for the white breast that shows up conspicuously against the green powdering of algae on the bark. It proceeds up one of the boughs, flies back down to the bottom of the trunk then ascends again on an alternative route up the tree.

Unlike nuthatches, treecreepers never creep down a tree.