Nostell Priory, 10.10 a.m., 4°C, 39°F: The rival great spotted woodpeckers are drumming again, one in the middle of the Pleasure Grounds, the other, from the sound of it, from the far side of the Lower Lake. The first time that I heard it, I was likening the drumming of the nearer bird to the percussive sound of castanets but today I realise that a castanet is too clackety; the tree that this woodpecker has chosen resonates with the more satisfyingly hollow sound of a Chinese block; ‘tockety-tock!’, not ‘clackety-clack!’.
We’ve done well for seeing goldcrests this winter. In previous years, the few views that I’ve had of them have been of silhouettes amongst the branches of tall pines but this year they seem to have been more confiding, oblivious of our presence. This morning a single goldcrest is the first bird that we see as we walk out of the courtyard into the gardens, as it checks out the branches of a yew.
In the Pleasure Grounds a treecreeper is working its way methodically up the trunk of a tall oak. It ascends in a straight line; unlike the nuthatch, it doesn’t have the option of going downwards and this one isn’t even tempted to veer off sideways.