THE calm enfoldment of this woodland near Forestmill reminded me of being submerged in a Highland pine forest, such was its wild beauty.

I had followed a track for small distance, but it diminished into a dead-end, so I struck through the pine trees, with my feet soon becoming soaked in the mossy damp flushes.

A red squirrel scampered up a Scots pine and eyed me nervously, its tail flicking from side-to-side in agitation.

Not long afterwards, a roe deer ambled into view, but rather than staring directly at it, I observed the animal's progress from the corner of my eye.

It slunk past me at a respectful distance, hoping it would remain undetected. I have noticed when observing wild creatures that if you don't eyeball them, they are much less likely to take fright.

The ethereal atmosphere of this woodland was soon broken by a gentle and rather metallic repetitive call, which reminded me of clinking wine glasses.

The noise gradually grew louder and over the trees bounded a small party of crossbills that quickly alighted atop a towering spruce.

I brought them into focus through my binoculars but no sooner had I done so than they were away again – possibly because I had broken my own rule and had been staring at them.

Crossbills are handsome birds, especially the males with their vibrant brick-red plumage and deep bills that has led to them sometimes being likened to parrots.

They are also one of our most specialist feeders, with their unique crossed-over bills designed to extract the seeds from pine-cones.

As I headed for home, a coal tit swept in a simple undulating flight through the trees, before alighting on a branch. It swung upside down on the end of pine-needle clustered twig, searching for small invertebrates.

But it soon gave up its quest and took to the air again and disappeared in among a tangle of branches.

The wood was quiet once more, but it had just revealed some its wild secrets, and for that, I was truly grateful.