A new word at Ninesprings

A lovely autumn dog walk at Ninesprings Country Park in Yeovil that had a surprise in store.

Ninesprings is my other go to dog walking venue in Yeovil, useful when it’s raining because of all the tree cover, and if you stay on the paths it’s not as muddy as the Riverside Walk. Of course, the dogs don’t stay on the paths, why would they with all that lovely mud to play in? To be fair, only Woody goes through all the mud and puddles, while Riley tries to pick his way delicately round it all. Such a wimp – if Woody had access to Facebook he’d be posting photos of Riley with eye rolling emojis. They both like the leaves though, and the satisfying rustle that can be had by charging through them properly.

When I get some time I need to do a proper ‘In Search Of’ on Ninesprings, as I have with other sites within Yeovil Country Park, principally the Riverside Walk of course. I have all the photos I need, but somehow never quite got around to doing the whole walking photo blog thing about it.

Not that you need to search for Ninesprings, it’s right there in the middle of Yeovil, and is rightly known as the jewel of the Country Park. It’s named after the natural springs that pop out of the hill that it sits on, although according to some there are actually eleven springs. Once the private pleasure gardens of the Batten family of Aldon House, they became part of Yeovil Borough in 1928, were bought by the District Council in 1979, and in 2002 became one of the five areas of the newly-designated Yeovil Country Park.

Anyway, that’s for the longer blog to come, this one’s just about the new word of the title, which I’ll get to in a moment. If you want to more about the place right now, Bob Osborn’s A-Z of Yeovil History has a great page about it.

So, it was a beautiful day, and I had some time, so we went on the long version of the walk, along the top path that gives you a bird’s eye view of the whole park, and of course of the town beyond. Riley chased his fair share of squirrels, but was a bit confused when this one just clung to the tree, staring back at him.

The usual birds were around, robins, dunnocks, blue, great, coal and long-tailed tits, a jay, numerous others of the crow and thrush families, and of course the woodpeckers.

This one was fairly oblivious to me pointing a large lens at him as he went about the business of extracting insects from the bark of the tree. He kept to the shadows at first…

But then he came out into the light…

…and started really hammering away at the branch. It was only when I looked at the photo that I noticed I’d caught him with his eyelid closed as his beak hit the bark.

However, it seems this is no ordinary eyelid, but in fact a third, inner, nictitating eyelid, and the new word of the title. They’re actually opaque, so they can see what they’re doing through them while still beating the heck out of trees. Given the enormous force that they hit the trees with, it also stops their eyeballs popping out of their heads. Apparently many animals have them, from cats to camels, but the Woodpecker is particularly well-known for them. Except to me, obviously!

So there you go, Nictitating, a new word I can now pretend I always knew.

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