I am Sylva Fae, the woodland faerie, referred to on Twitter as the forest lady. It would be lovely to write about being at one with nature. The reality however, is somewhat different. The creatures of my woodland paradise have made it their mission to cause me grief! I’m trying not to take it personally but I’m convinced they post bunnies on lookout to race back and announce our arrival. As we pull on our wellies at the car, the last of the wood pigeons take flight and we wander through the trees to a deserted camp.
Now I know our little woodland is teaming with wildlife, the evidence of their presence is all there but the crafty critters are all hiding in the bushes sniggering behind their little paws. There are squirrels aplenty, this we know from the countless photos sent back from our wildlife camera, as they play the squirrel equivalent of knock-a-door-run. Every year I watch the hazel nuts and chestnuts ripening on the trees and I would love to sample our woodland fare. But no, the squirrels have other ideas. They manage to harvest and stash every last one at the moment of ripening. We leave one weekend with branches laden with near ripe nuts and return the next to find them bare. But that’s not all, oh no! The cheeky rascals sit feasting on our benches and leave the empty shells to taunt us.
We’re incredibly lucky to have buzzards nesting in our woods; such beautiful and majestic birds but how rude they are. They glide high above, circling round wherever we wander, screeching warnings to vacate their territory. I’m sure those catlike calls are shouting threats to swoop and pick off my littlest child for lunch. These formidable predators may be responsible for the lack of rabbits and rodents, but my brood are not for the taking. Despite their obvious disdain for us, I would love a photo, just one and I’d be happy, but they have other ideas. As they effortlessly glide high on the thermals, I grab my phone and adjust the zoom on its camera. I see these magnificent birds soaring across my view finder but as my finger hovers on the button, they dive and swoop out of view. I hear them jeering from the trees at my frustration.
Then there is the giant scary hare. For the first year we had the woods, my husband would complain of an enormous hare, who lay in wait for him while he was alone chopping logs. Nobody else had seen him and I started to wonder if he really existed. Now going to the loo in the woods is an interesting experience for a lady! It involves finding a secluded spot without nettles and brambles then braving the elements as you bare all. It was on one such moment, settled in the position, when scary hare decided to make my acquaintance and spooked me into falling bare bottom first, into a pile of spiky pine needles! Since our first meeting, scary hare, who is indeed a giant, makes it his mission to leap across my path when I least expect it.
Next on my list of annoying woodland creatures are the mad mining badgers. These guys can dig! One whole bank in the woods is riddled with freshly dug holes and old discarded setts, making it treacherous to walk across. Now, like my belligerent buzzards, I would love a photo or even just to see one. They trot about camp setting off the night camera then speed out of shot as the camera takes. We get a lot of blank shots of the woods after dark, with just a shadow of where a high speed badger once was. On many occasions I have wandered down in the pitch black just to catch a glimpse but nothing. I’ve tiptoed carefully without a torch, risking life and limb crossing badger bank, with not even a rustling in the bushes to show for my efforts. Unlike scary hare, the high speed, mad, mining badgers refuse to be seen.
And finally my nemesis the taunting peacock from the farm across the secret field. He’s the most amazingly beautiful creature but has two annoying features; to scare people and to thwart any attempts to photograph his magnificent tail. The first of his habits is to sneak into the wood at dusk, creep up behind my poor unsuspecting husband, then cry loudly behind him. Now if you have ever heard a peacock’s cry you’ll know it’s quite an eerie sound at the best of times but in the woods alone, it takes on a really creepy quality; not great if you’re just about to swing an axe.
Then there’s the dual personality peacock. He struts and preens, tail fanned in all its colourful splendour, turning to give his audience the best view. The sunlight shimmers off the iridescent shades of blue and green and a hundred and fifty eyes twinkle as he waits. He holds his tail proud just watching while I get my phone out and turn on the camera, then just as I click the button, with well practised grace, he turns. I have so many fuzzy photos of his behind but I’m determined to outwit him. One day I’ll get my photograph.
So here are my woodland creatures, every one has issues with our presence in the woods. For now I think I’ll just stick to photographing mini beasts and trees!