Parking the car I headed into the woods which have recorded woodcock, nightjar, crossbills and other classic boreal avians. Today though, and as is oft the case in mid winter woodlands the birdlife was sparse and hard to see.
I didn't mind, the day was sunny, mild (for December) and I was just enjoying the walk, when all of a sudden I came across these free range pigs. This is how pigs should be kept, not indoors. The gentle snuffling and grunts told me they were happy pigs, if a little dirty.
There is something magical about being in a silent wood in mid-winter. There is a heady presence of silence everywhere, mainly as the birds are mostly silent at this time of the year. Yet this silence is just a smoke screen for life carrying as normal, if we just look a little harder, such as these flies, grabbing as much warmth from the suns rays as it is possible to do in mid December.
The views up here across the River Severn to "mainland Gloucestershire" were stunning, and if you are wondering that's Berkley Nuclear Reactor on the distant shoreline.
Tidenham Chase seems to actually be an amalgam of smaller woodland areas. This area, as was most of the Forest of Dene, was a mining region, so there is much evidence of past exploitation of the coal reserves underground. At an adjoining woodland called Parson's Allotments, I stumbled across this monument.
And try as I might I can not find out what this monument is about. The inscription said VP 1837-97 (or was it 1867, it had some damage to it). Was VP the Parson of the woods name? I'd be interested to know more.
Plenty of squirrel dreys around here too, sadly not the reds, and another interesting sight of some cracking Stereum spp. fungi on stacked logs, which was good to see being left here in a Forestry Commission plantation.