In which I admire some busy wood ants in the New Forest
…we stopped to look at a huge ants’ nest on the side of the track.Joan Begbie, Walking in the New Forest, published 1934
You may remember that, when I posted about a walk round Godshill Wood at the back end of May, I mentioned the wood ants’ birch tree.
I’m away this week, so this is going to be a short post, but I thought I’d revisit the tree, and the ants, via my keyboard at least. This was prompted by finding that Joan Begbie refers in Walking in the New Forest to a large ants’ nest that she, Bill and Mr Bundy found in Holmsley Inclosure. They didn’t seem too impressed.
The creatures themselves, great copper-coloured horrors, were swarming over it [the nest] in such numbers that there arose from the heap a noise like a simmering kettle, or light rain on dry leaves. They made My Bundy quite nervous, and even Bill refrained from investigating the moving mound, standing at a respectful distance with wrinkled forehead, ears cocked and a puzzled expression in his eyes.Joan Begbie, Walking in the New Forest
I love that description, though I’m not sure I’d call the wood ants ‘horrors’. I think they are rather wonderful. Bill and Mr Bundy did well to keep away, though, as the territorial ants will spray formic acid at all invaders, dogs included.
Anyway, I found a little video I made of the Godshill wood ants last year. The birdsong rather drowns out their activity, but if you listen hard, you can just about hear the ants’ clickings and cracklings.