My first post of 2012: A burdock seed head.

At last a sunny day!

By the end of today, I hoped to have a suitable image for my first blog post of this year.

I would have liked to post an image of a bloom, but there isn’t one to photograph. There are a few cherry blossoms bursting from new buds, but the tree is not in Hoo Wood, nor on the marsh. I felt the image should be current; it should signify an end and promise a new beginning. Most importantly, it has to be totally relevant to the blog. I was stumped for a few hours, but at least my mind was a blank canvas – very blank, if truth be told. I didn’t want to set the bar too high either, and I felt that the image should be a bit different from my usual offerings.

Entering the marsh at the north end, I made my way south. Within a few minutes, I noticed two sets of badger paw prints, also leading in a southerly direction. From the sizes of the prints, I guessed they belonged to a big old male and his lady love. My first task this morning was to check a camera trap in the flooded withy wood. I followed an animal track that led straight into the wood. Although I took a twisted route, I noticed the badgers’ paw prints at various points along the way. I wasn’t following the badgers; we just happened to be using the same track.

Since the whole withy wood is flooded, my progress through it was extremely slow.   I forced my way through tall stands of thin, whippy  withies to get to my camera trap. There is a definite feeling of relief when the thickets give way to one of many small clearings. The whole time I sloshed through stagnant water of differing depths, laying on top of squidgy ground covered in rotting leaves. Every now and then, one foot sank into mud, releasing the most awful smelling gasses. I swapped the camera’s memory card and made my way out of the wood and onto solid ground. Whilst in the wood, I had an eye open for any suitable image opportunities, but I walked into the sun without finding one.

Walking towards the beach, I came across the badger prints again. I could see where they had been foraging for food.

I will have to continue the story and explain how I settled on this image in my next post.

IMG_119001ST JANUARY 2013

9 Comments on “My first post of 2012: A burdock seed head.

  1. At this time of year, burdock are just straggly, untidy remnants of the fine summer plant. But when you get close to the seed head, they are quite wonderful.

  2. Having been stuck in the stinky marsh mud recently myself, I could definitely commiserate with your experience. What exactly are “withy woods”?

    • A withy is a long, thin, flexible willow stem, Sue. The traditional way of growing willow withies is by pollarding willow trees. Withies are used in thatched roofs, as plant supports for gardens, in basket making, fencing, amongst many other uses.

      The Wilden Marsh withy wood is not man made; it has taken root in a large depression in the ground that collects water in wet weather. During a long hot summer, the willow trees will use most of the water and together with evaporation the ground dries out. At the moment, the whole of the wood is under water right to the very edges of the tree line. The average depth of the water is around a foot, but the squishy ground can easily give way under foot.

      I call this willow wood The Withy Wood, because it is a dense tangle of long thin willow trees growing straight up to the sky. Most of the trees grow twelve inches apart, on average, and the trunk diameters vary from half an inch to a foot.

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