October in an Essex Wood

By Sally Pudney on 19th October 2016

I made my October visit to the wood, as part of my ’12 Months in an Essex Wood’ project, on Monday morning. It was a beautiful morning – mild, breezy, with a blue sky. I parked the car at the old church at 10.00am and set off down the track to the wood. Glad I’d got my walking boots on, as the track was muddy in places for the first time since the spring!

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I was really surprised! I expected that there would have been a big change in colours in the wood. But although there were a great many fallen leaves on the paths, in all shades of browns, and ochre yellows, the canopy was still almost completely green. One of the few trees that was showing any colour in the canopy was a big sweet chestnut near the western boundary. Maybe next month will be the big change! I did notice that the canopy has thinned, though, and it seemed much lighter amongst the trees than a month ago.

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After the quietness of the wood in August and September, this month’s visit had a return of birdsong. A blackbird was singing loudly as I entered the wood, and there were wood-pigeons, lots of cawing rooks, robins, the cackle of a magpie, the harsh cough of pheasants. Squirrels everywhere! And for the first time in the wood, I saw a muntjac deer, crashing off through the undergrowth as I approached.

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The huge ash trees were still a pale bright summery green. I particularly noticed these enormous clumps. I believe they have grown up where long ago a single ash was pollarded, and the resulting new shoots have now all grown into mature trees, very close together. I suppose, strictly speaking, that each clump is one tree, as they share a single root system.

Huge ancient coppiced ash

Huge ancient coppiced ash

I shall be priming up the board this afternoon to start Essex Wood: October as I’m a bit behind – having only just finished September’s painting! 🙂


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