Sunday, June 10, 2007


Yesterday, (changed time and date of post) we decided to make use of the balmy weather and go for a nice woodland stroll. Not wanting to drive down to the New Forest (un-rivalled in terms of magnificence as a woodland, in my humble opinion), we drove to PENN WOOD instead - between Hazlemere and Amersham in south Bucks.

You might scoff, me comparing 'little old Penn Wood' to the huge New Forest. They don't compare really, but I think Penn Wood is south Bucks' answer or as close as you'll get.
It is a wonderful wood - well over 400 years old, mixed between old Beech and Oak, relatively new conifer and pine plantations, huge (grazed) clearings, long, wide woodland rides flanked often by Rhodadendrons (put there in the 1950s, much to the local commonfolk's disgust) and a few ponds and year round puddles to boot.

I have spent many days during my adolescence, wandering around (and getting lost in - I still do!) this amazing ancient wood - it has been the subject of a few proposed developments, including a golf course, but has resisted them all - all power to it.
I used to 'escape' to this wood during my 20s. If certain things were building up in my life, or certain people were crowding my space, I would often (in the heat of the summer) pack a rucksack, some fire-lighting material, a metal mug and a packet of coffee sachets and my tent and a pair of binoculars, and DISAPPEAR into these woods for a couple of days. I disappeared because I set up camp in clearings that, lets just say, the general public weren't really meant to be in.
They were wonderful summer nights - very theraputic to me, no-one around, surrounded by, watching (and being watched by) Muntjac deer, foxes, rabbits, bats, the odd badger and some wonderful insects and birds - like the Hobby, Woodcock and Turtle Dove.
I always returned to 'civilisation' looking like a black man, but suitably re-charged and refreshed.
It was an honour to show Anna one of my favourite spots in the world yesterday, in glorious weather. I think she appreciated it as I do. I think we'll be back (if she can handle the cough... cough... slightly illegal camping bit! Adds to the fun!)
The following two posts are the only two posts I'll write currently on Penn Wood. We did have an amazing walk - we heard a wonderful Sparrowhawk calling (which I tried to attract with my phone!), saw some amazing views and plants, a few Woodpeckers and a Marsh (or Willow) Tit - I'll post on these birds (INCREDIBLY difficult to distinguish between, even for experts) some other time, and a big Buck Muntjac. (Big for a Muntjac, anyway).

This moth (that Anna found) is called a "Brown Silver-Line". Moths are very 'physically named' - this is no exception - a brown moth (very dull really) with 2 lines on it - the posterior line having a 'silvery-edge' to it. It also has two VERY faint dots (one on each forewing). This moth is not rare, and feeds on Bracken (loads in Penn Wood) in our Woodlands mainly. A new species to me and Anna as far as we're concerned! Lovely to see- not ALL moths have to look like Tiger Moths, I guess!

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