December is upon us once again: the glorious, colourful autumn leaves are gathering on the ground, many trees are now stark and bare. The world can seem monochromatic at this time of year, particularly on those days when sun and sky are hidden from view by low dark clouds. All may be grey and gloomy and quiet in the woods, but there are still many creatures going about their daily business.
The wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), inconspicuous and brown, blends in with ease to the December gloom. This tiny, secretive bird scuttles around in the dense undergrowth, near or on the ground, searching in crevices for insects and spiders.
Meaning “cave-dweller”, the scientific name may refer either to this behaviour or to their cave-like nests with only a small opening. One of the commonest birds in the UK, it is recognisable by its round body and short, narrow tail, which is invariably held upright.