Wanstead Patchwork: Part IX (If you go down to the woods at night…)

Blackbird has spoken
On Friday night, I had an hour or so to kill between getting home from work and going out to meet friends. I decided to take a stroll in Bush Wood to see if I could hear or see a Tawny Owl.

As I walked on to the Flats at dusk, I was struck by the amount of bird song. Robins, wrens, thrushes, and dunnocks are all in full song now, and as the light faded they all seemed desperate to belt out their tunes before night properly fell. That evening I heard my first proper Blackbird song of the year:

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

The Blackbird is one of the UK’s commonest birds. In winter their numbers can swell from winter migrants to 10-15 million birds. But now, about 5 million breeding birds will have been left behind. Birds which we have become used to squawking out their alarm calls and nothing else, now perch proudly and sing one of the most popular and widely recognised songs of the British countryside.

After watching this Blackbird and a Song Thrush seem to compete for some time I headed deeper into the woods. And it became darker.


Bush Wood

I walked around listening for owls. At one point I thought I heard one in the distance, but cursed myself for not being sure whether it was really an owl or just a distant human voice shouting. Eventually it became so dark that I realised I should head back.

But I had become hopelessly lost in the dark forest… mwuhahahahaha!

I didn’t really, although I did trip a couple of times and cut myself on brambles. Bush Wood is not a massive forest and street and car lights are quickly visible – including some street lamps lighting a path that bisects this part of the Flats and wood:

Wood lights

Lights in the sky
As I left the wood, I looked up at the stars. The two brightest bodies in the sky – the moon was nowhere to be seen last night – were Jupiter and Venus – so I took their photographs:

Jupiter and Venus

As well as celestial bodies puncturing the darkness, the night was also diluted (or polluted) by the lights of our wonderful city. I stood for some time gazing over the darkness of the flats to the light of London beyond, including my office in Canary Wharf visible a few miles away in the distant glow:

London light


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