I guess some of you will think I am slightly barking……..maybe even a little Dagenham, but, after the cold and snow of recent weeks, today is a simply stupendous day in the Weald of Kent. Here in Smarden we have escaped the worst of the recent weather, no where near as much snow as most of the country, and certainly no where near the cold that they have been experiencing in East Anglia.

Today…. that weather is a distant memory.

A quick stroll around the farmhouse garden, shows just how quickly nature responds to lengthening days and a little bit of warmth in the sun. The cyclamen under the silver birches is in full bloom, and in the leaf litter under the old apple trees the snowdrops are beginning to poke their heads out of the soil to welcome the early spring.

Now…. the bitterly cold easterly winds have not been all bad. One of the UK’s most secretive winter visitors has taken advantage of the free ride and descended upon the UK in numbers that I have not seen for many a year.

If you are out walking the fields and woodlands around Smarden in the next few weeks, keeps your eyes peeled………….look out for a small well camouflaged bird, whose flight is a silent as a whisper, and as gentle as leaf drifting on the breeze. Then take a closer look, the long down turned beak is the key, and you would then easily identify your quarry as a woodcock.

Present in reasonable numbers most years, this year they are here in abundance………..how many of you have seen this delightful little woodland bird, and not realised as it ghosts past you in the half light?

Put your walking boots on, grab the dogs leads…………and get out into the early spring sunshine. By mid February the majority of the woodcock are gone, leaving just a few who stay to breed in the UK, see them now or wait another year.

Better still…………..come to Smarden for an early spring break, spot your woodcock and enjoy all that Biddenden Green Farm and the surrounding countryside has to offer.



























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