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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….