As of next month I am assuming that the airline industry will have no further use for my services and a bleak outlook looms. On the other side of the coin, I will have a lot of time on my hands and 8.5 acres of ancient woodland.

During all the uncertainty of virus and threat of job loss, an exciting project has given me reason to look forward with some hope. Our tiny village has been consumed by the urban sprawl of the town and houses now cover the ground that was, until just very recently, fields. All that is left is a small pocket of woodland which has suddenly come up for sale.

Rumours abounded about who might buy it and the fear that developers might come in and destroy the last patch of green in the village had the community in a tizzy. The existing villagers joined with the newcomers organizing a whip-round to raise money in the hope of buying it. After a lot of backing and forthing, the vendor accepted our offer and the wood is to become a trust to be protected in perpetuity. The real upside is that it is right by my house and the Tawny Owls occasionally stray into my oak tree at night.

Anti-social behaviour has degraded the ambience of the wood in the past. All terrain vehicle enthusiasts ripped swathes through the wild flowers and fireraisers left the burnt out shuck of a car, so there will almost certainly be work parties to clear the litter and debris. There will probably be environmental studies and enhancements to encourage wildlife.

Someone will need to print “Please don’t trample me” signs. Owl boxes! Feeder stations! Likely all done by volunteers. Just try and stop me!

Despite the poor reputation of the wood, I have waved my binoculars at it on a few occasions and tempted some of the common woodland species out to my garden feeders. Blue Tits and Great Tits abound as do Greater Spotted Woodpeckers. My most recent foray found nest-building Treecreepers and Eurasian Nuthatches. Passage and summer migrants include Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff (which I am still waiting to tick from my garden). In winter, Common Redpolls.

This week, contracts were exchanged to pass ownership over to the trust at just in time of year to enjoy bluebells and the dawn chorus in our very own patch of English, ancient woodland. And just in time too to lift the gloom that redundancy brings.


Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.