Country diary- These funky drummers are taking us out of winter
A bright day. Crisp, clear, cornflower sky. One of those February days. You know the kind. Pre-pre-spring. Utterly still. No hint of Dudley, Eunice or Franklin. I have a regular walk. Up the hill, through the estate, into the small wood at the top of Streatham Common. A fragment of peace in London’s sprawling suburbia. And on this still morning, it soothes the soul.
An insistent great tit, its strident two-note call pinging around the canopy; a wren, machine-gun burst from a nearby bush; a black labrador, galumphing and panting; a robin, its silvery ribbon of song disguising the awkward reality of its intrinsic belligerence. Lovely stuff.
And then, a sound to make my head snap up. Drrrrrrrrr. A great spotted woodpecker. Most birds sing. But every band needs a drummer. Drrrrrrrr. The sound of a beak hitting wood 20 times a second. One of the first indicators that winter might soon – please, please – be coming to an end. My first this year was in early January, but since then, silence. This is a welcome return. It goes again – louder but still invisible – and I scan the canopy, seeking but not finding.
Wouldn’t you get a headache? Well, of course – even if you could move your head that quickly, you would. I would too. But we don’t have thick skulls with a spongy lining, wrapped around the brain to minimise rattling. We don’t have a hyoid bone coiled round our head like a helmet. We can’t contract our neck muscles milliseconds before impact to further lessen the shock.
And – unrelated to the drumming, but equally fascinating – we don’t have sticky tongues that wrap themselves round the inside of our heads and then unfurl to lap up insects and larvae and all sorts of other delicious stuff. We are, in short, woefully equipped to live the life of a woodpecker.
I’m in danger of getting a crick in my neck. Still no sign of the noisy, elusive drummer. Then it shuffles out from behind the trunk – a piebald bringer of cheer – and fossicks in the bark briefly for my delectation, before taking off and bouncing away over my head.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
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