Having had a hand in rolling the pitch for Bamville Cricket Club, and knowing that they play most Sundays in the season, I thought it very likely that they would be playing this Sunday, however, unbeknownst to me the season does not start till May! So where I was thinking of apologising for missing the first hour of play, it was not the case as, on arrival the pitch looked exquisite, but bare of stumps or players, the pavilion was still shuttered and two dog walkers had taken the place of spectators. The significance of this preamble was that I had come to give my 100-400mm lens sports airing!
I had learned that woodpeckers could be found deep in Wendover woods, so I changed plans and headed there, because this was a lens that might do such subjects justice. I headed not to the main entrance but to a small car park beyond at Mansion Hill, and began the long ascent through the woods. There were the first signs of greenery appearing, and there were numerous small clumps of primrose in a wide expanse of grass, before the track narrowed.
The beauty of the woods is that however many visitors might arrive, you only have to keep taking tracks away from the main one, and the woods become your own. I saw just one couple ahead when I started, but soon they were lost to sight, then I would meet cyclists and dog walkers descending past me. Almost all exchanged greetings, and some even were happy to converse; often by mentioning my cameras or my lens and assuming that I must be in search of some exotic species, and what might that be?
My reply was the lens choice was more in hope. In return I would enquire as to what they might have seen, and in the case of those also armed with cameras had they found anything of special interest or specifically woodpeckers, but the answer was always negative. When I reached an open spot with a memorial plaque giving a map of the scene beyond, I was rewarded by the spotting three buzzards having a dog fight above the new housing estate, but they were sadly moving off even as I arrived. What surprised me was the overall dearth of birdsong, there were occasional spots where you could hear chatter for a minute or so before silence returned with only occasional breaks for the soughing of the wind in the trees. By far the loudest sound for much of the time was the Ice Cream Van’s call or aircraft overhead.
I took the elliptical Fitness route, but did not have the energy to take part; instead I took the sign’s message about taking care not to over-exert myself (after all I needed my energy for the return trip!) When I did finally turn back I managed to miss the correct turn and found myself dropping down far more than I remembered, but decided once I had realised my mistake, to just continue – what I did not know was that having dropped a good deal, this path then climbed and climbed back to the original route, so by the time I reached that point I was very much out of breath! It was at that point that I met a very chatty group of friends who were also descending, they were very easygoing and I walked alongside them and joined their conversation and I slowly got my breath back as we all made our way to the bottom. I pointed out where they might see primroses, and sadly did not get a shot of the squirrel that one of them spotted. We parted in the Car Park.