First the snow came as a light dusting, like icing on the twigs and branches.  Then overnight, the big flakes fell – snow on snow – and the forest was transformed….

Sarah-Rees-snow-forest A Winter Woodland

Bony winter branches now weigh heavy beneath the snow as sunlight streams through the trees to a sparkling floor.  Like a magical icy kingdom, Epping Forest falls silent, muffled by undulating drifts.

Sarah-Rees-winter-forest-flare A Winter Woodland

The silence is broken by the shrill squawks of magpies and jays.  They have discovered a pile of breadcrumbs left for them, a simple act of kindness.   In a time of food scarcity, such a feast draws a raucous reception – and a varied crowd.

Sarah-Rees-jay-snow A Winter Woodland

Sarah-Rees-nuthatch A Winter Woodland

Smaller birds sit and wait for the boisterous jays before they too join the feast.  A flurry of activity, flapping feathers and chirping as tiny blue tits, great tits and even a nuthatch dart to and fro; plucking breadcrumbs and flying off to their perches on young beech trees.

Sarah-Rees-great-tit-flight A Winter Woodland

Sarah-Rees-great-tit-2 A Winter Woodland

The bright copper leaves of the beech trees hang heavy with snow.  Unlike other deciduous trees, their leaves cling on to winter branches, a splash of colour between the dark, bare branches of neighbouring trees.

Sarah-Rees-beech-tree-snow A Winter Woodland

Whilst very beautiful, winter is a harsh time for woodland residents.  But the thaw has already begun with the rustle of snow slipping from trees.  The magic of Spring is just around the corner….

Sarah-Rees-blue-tit-snow A Winter Woodland

Sarah-Rees-snow-forest-sunset A Winter Woodland