Country Corner

Quite often the first clue of a Treecreeper nearby is  soft scratching and pecking sounds in the quiet of an autumnal or winter woodland.
Quite often the first clue of a Treecreeper nearby is soft scratching and pecking sounds in the quiet of an autumnal or winter woodland.

Quite often the first clue of a treecreeper nearby is when you can hear soft scratching and pecking sounds in the quiet of an autumnal or winter woodland.

Here is a bird with behaviour more reminiscent of a mouse as it scales vertical tree trunks, probing and pecking in every crack and crevice of the bark.

All sorts of tiny tasty morsels are to be found there and treecreepers seem to find them with regular ease as you watch.

As you can see here the bill is long, thin and curved to enable delicate searching but sharp extraction of any resisting beastie.

Another adaptation is a specially strengthened tail to prop the bird in this typically upright pose, braced against the trunk.

Strangely, treecreepers in winter often join mixed foraging flocks of small woodland birds. You can always hear these travelling flocks approaching through the canopy.

Long-tailed tits, goldcrests and the whole cast of woodland songbirds seem to drift along, feeding as they go. Just what species are involved can be hard to determine unless you are good at naming invisible birds by their calls.

But there, for all to see, exposed on the naked trunks, you will a strange mouse-like bird, scurrying and hurrying to keep up with the rest of the pack.

I am well aware many of you may never have seen a treecreeper, but that has more to do with your behaviour than theirs.

Get yourself into a wood soon after dawn when all is still silent.

Stand, wait and listen.

Watch the main trunks below branch level for a slight movement.

Let me know how you get on.

By George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management