FOLLOWING the recent heavy snowfall, it was wonderful to be out and about in the Ochils where the deep powder made it heavy-going underfoot as I headed up Dollar Glen towards Hillfoot Hill.

It is a difficult time for our wildlife as food is hard to find, although most creatures survive surprisingly well.

As I made my way up the glen, I noticed several wrens busying themselves under tree roots and by steep banks.

Wrens often behave like little mice and they can scuttle their way into all kinds of nooks and crannies in search of tiny invertebrates, sometimes even right beneath the snow.

I suspect this recent snowfall won’t bother them too much, although if the snow cover was to persist for a few weeks, then it would be a different story and mortality rates would start to soar.

At the top of the glen, the familiar yodelling of a green woodpecker echoed through the trees and I caught site of the bird as it undulated its way in an easy-mannered flight towards a stand of oak trees.

Green woodpeckers like to forage on the ground, so the snow is bad news from that point of view.

However, they are adaptable creatures too, and during this wintry period they will spend their time probing the soft wood of rotten tree trunks in search of the bountiful invertebrates hidden within.

The snow was several inches deep on the track up Hillfoot Hill, and apart from a couple of roe deer, I didn’t see much on this part of the walk.

However, on the way back our dog flushed a woodcock from the boggy margins of a ditch, from where it fizzed away like a brown blurry missile weaving in-between several lime trees by the track edge.

I was pleased with this sighting because I have seen very few woodcocks this winter. Our resident woodcock population is supplemented by the arrival of many migrants from Russia each winter, but apparently these eastern European birds have just experienced a very poor breeding season.

Hopefully, they will fare better this coming year, for our woodcocks are such charismatic and mysterious birds and it would be a real tragedy if numbers continued to fall.