I started running to work this year during the frigid winter weather. Part of my route takes me along a peaceful trail through 'Mirrlees Fields'. This is an oasis of nature amidst housing estates new and old, industrial estates and a large hospital. Thirty-plus years ago the fields were a golf course, but over the intervening time, nature has reclaimed the area. The path had become narrow and overgrown, down to single person width. This is what it was like in January, past the really narrow bit.
Shortly after this, we were treated to a new widened path of crushed sandstone - much better for running and cycling on compared to the partly submerged bricks that had always been there. A couple of weeks ago as I was crunching my way along this pristine new trail to work, I heard the characteristic staccato sound from a woodpecker. I've never heard such a thing before or since around these parts. When the sound was louder I stopped and listened. The next time it sounded, I realised it was in the tree directly above me. I looked up and saw a wood pigeon eyeing me suspiciously. I waited for the next sounding, and there it was, way above the pigeon, a black silhouette of a bird against the overcast sky, managing to get a surprising tone out of the highest, thinnest bough of the tree. I could see the crest feathers on its head rise and fall as it sounded off. It was magical. I ran the rest of the journey to work with a big smile on my face.