Shy lit­tle bird takes a bough

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

SOME­TIMES when you are out and about and in­volved in a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one, some­thing will catch your eye and make you stop.

A few weeks ago I was talk­ing to a lo­cal builder when a stoat ran along a wall be­hind him.

Of course by the time I blurted out ‘stoat!’ the lit­tle fel­low had van­ished and my friend was look­ing at me as though I was a bit strange.

Any­way, yes­ter­day I was chat­ting to a lo­cal game­keeper about the prob­lems he is hav­ing with crows when, all of a sud­den, I spot­ted a small bird clam­ber­ing up a tree be­hind him.

‘Treecreeper!’ I ex­claimed and, for­tu­nately, he turned round in time to see the bird. We were both silent for a minute or so as we re­garded this won­der­ful lit­tle crea­ture seek­ing food in the bark of a horse ch­est­nut tree.

Treecreep­ers are found through­out the re­gion and num­bers ap­pear to have been sta­ble through­out last 50 years de­spite a na­tional decline. They are quite dif­fi­cult to record be­cause they are quite shy birds who tend to stick to wood­land.

This is why it was a nice sur­prise to see the bird on an av­enue of trees a cou­ple of hun­dred yards from the nearby woods. I have seen them in trees along the river­bank in the past but never this far out.

Also the treecreeper is pretty well cam­ou­flaged against the bark of a tree, be­ing a streaky brown on top and pale un­der­neath. If you just caught a glimpse you might even mis­take this bird for a mouse.

On closer in­spec­tion, which I was al­lowed yes­ter­day, you can see its down-curved, nee­dle-like bill, ideal for priz­ing in­sects from crevices in the bark.

It hunts for food by mov­ing up the trunk of a tree pok­ing in and out of holes and breaks. Once it has searched one tree it will fly in a spi­ral to the foot of the next tree along to con­tinue its mis­sion for lunch. All its ma­noeu­vring is helped by a spiky tail to aid balance.

Treecreep­ers nest un­der flaps of peel­ing dead bark and those nests are dif­fi­cult to spot, mak­ing this a pretty elusive bird.

Again this is where wood­land man­age­ment is im­por­tant. Work car­ried out by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust lets wooded ar­eas breathe so plants and trees can live and grow old. It means in­sects, birds and mam­mals can find small spa­ces to feed and nest. A mix of open wood­land and scrubby ar­eas works as a larder and a safe haven for some of our smaller creatures.

For us, these are great places to ob­serve.

Sit­ting for just an hour watch­ing an area of wood­land should give you plenty of ‘Wow!’ mo­ments as wild vis­i­tors pop in and out. And if you are re­ally lucky you might just get to see a treecreeper go­ing about its busi­ness seek­ing food for it­self and its young.

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side, all ly­ing north of the River Mersey. It man­ages around 40 na­ture reserves and 20 Lo­cal Na­ture Reserves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The Trust has 27,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers.

To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.org. uk.

John and Tracey Lan­g­ley

Treecreeper seek­ing food

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