Nature Notes competition entries – A close encounter of the Christmas card kind

Many thanks to Alison Whitham for sharing her ‘moment of heaven’ in this lovely wintry tale.

A close encounter of the Christmas card kind

 Most weekday mornings, I have the enviable task of just walking to work, through Wilbraham wood, which is situated next to the beautiful Cuerden Valley Park – I work as a receptionist at The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.

Before I worked for the Trust, I took very little notice of my surroundings, but since I have been doing this job, it has opened my eyes immensely, to the outside world; plus the knowledge I have accumulated in the 5 years of being with this wonderful organisation, is countless.

I am no botany or ecological boffin, but what I have learned through books, the internet and the many conversations and emails I have with the general public, has enlightened me into a different way of thinking.

During the winter last gone, which was a bad one as we all know, I started on my 10 minute walk to work one morning. The ground was thick white and the trees were heavily laden with snow. I picked my way through the powdery mass and noticed the large tree, which was felled a few years ago, laying motionless on the ground. The three parts of its severed trunk were covered in snow, resembling the chocolate logs we decorate the table with at Christmas; ivy and holly bushes grew all around them, with the remnants of ageing fungi and other bark- loving lichen aboard.

Just at that moment, I looked up and saw in front of me, a female Roe deer. We both dared not to move. Her eyes looked directly into mine. My thoughts were, “If only I had my camera!” Before she decided to dart off, there was flash of red that seemed to cut swiftly through the air, landing on the first trunk. It was a sight to behold, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

Just as soon as they had both appeared on the scene they were gone – only the imprints of their presence remained. I still savour that moment; such a beautiful encounter – a moment of sheer heaven.