March in an Essex Wood

By Sally Pudney on 5th March 2016

Well, March in an Essex Wood was muddy! I should have expected this as we’ve had lots of rain this week, but it was so mild and sunny on Friday that I just decided to go on an impulse! Memo to self: Remember – do not visit after heavy rain!

Hillhouse Wood March 009

But I was able to walk about a bit, and the big pond on the right as I walked in was looking lovely with reflections of the trees and the blue sky, and the bluebell leaves were so thick they looked like lush grass. Lots of twittering of small birds, and cawing of rooks, and, repeatedly, the harsh barking call of a cock pheasant.

For the first time I was not the only person in the wood. A black and white welsh sheepdog rushed up to inspect me, and then rushed back to his owner; a small group of women and young children passed me on a parallel path, all calling  excitedly; a dog-walker strode past talking loudly into her mobile phone.

Hillhouse Wood March 007

I drew a pair of mature sweet chestnut trees, with the grooves in the bark swirling round the trunk like a helter-skelter, and a place where the path winds through a group of coppiced hazel. The hazel catkins are brown now, and finished, but edging the path there were a few celandines already out.

Hillhouse Wood March 003

I had wondering what I might find to make a small painting this month, when I saw by the side of the field path leading into the wood, a skull!

Hillhouse Wood March 014

At first I thought it was a badger skull, but a bit of internet research when I got home revealed that it actually belonged to a fox. A fox has six teeth behind the canines, while a badger only has four. The join between the two sides of the skull are still clearly visible on a fox’s skull, but an adult badger’s skull fuses completely, and makes a much stronger heavier bone. What a find! I collected it on my way out of the wood – hoping it would still be there! – and I’m looking forward to drawing and painting it

Late this afternoon I put a few final touches to ‘Dinghy on Still Water’, but the light was not good enough to photograph it, so it will be on the website in a day or two! 🙂


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