Shy little bird takes a bough
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.
Treecreeper seeking food