St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Wildwatch: 18 February 2012 – “Taster” morning

Participants in the "Wildwatch Taster Morning" - 18 Feb 2012

Participants in the "Wildwatch Taster Morning" - 18 Feb 2012

This morning we held a “taster” morning, aimed at showing people what our Wildwatch Group gets up to every Wednesday morning.

Nine people attended the event, including members of the Wildwatch Group. We split up into two teams, with Kaye leading the “Trees and Plants” spotting group and Ian leading the “Bird and Mammal” spotting group.

Here are Kaye’s notes on her morning:

“Between us we had a fair bit of information but compiled a long list of homework tasks.  As you know, the reserve’s rich in Alder, with a fair bit of Hazel and a nice stand of Silver Birch, so we spent a bit of time comparing catkins and looking for female flowers (rather more of these to be found).  Ash and Horse Chestnut are easy to identify by their distinctive spring buds, and the Oak saplings have the advantage of retaining their dead leaves. We feel fairly sure we found three kinds, and in the process found a new Oak Gall, ID still to confirm.

Willows are a challenge because they hybridise freely, but it would help if I knew the basic species a lot better. We had a look at the old Limes near the story circle and found a few of last year’s flower bracts underneath.  We also looked at Sycamores, a Field Maple, Elder, Hawthorn and Blackthorn, but ended up scratching our heads over fruit trees until the blossom breaks.

“There aren’t many coniferous trees on the reserve, but there are small  Yews on the Bund Path, and Larches near the centre – plus the little stand near the car park that we pass every week and have yet to look at properly!”

Here’s what Ian’s group recorded:

“We had a fairly uneventful walk around Osbaldwick Beck, seeing a couple of Moorhens in the beck, along with Chaffinches and Long-tailed Tits in the beck side trees, plus, of course, the usual Blue and Great Tits and some fine green-coloured male Greenfinches.

“The Bund Path and the path to the industrial estate alongside Tang Hall Beck was also not notable, although, as with the previous parts of the walk, we heard and saw numerous Robins defending their territories. Magpies and Woodpigeons, of course, were numerous, and we saw half a dozen Herring Gulls flying over the reserve.

“The watch at the “Kingfisher Culvert”, where Tang Hall Beck emerges from its underground passage, proved great! We had prolonged views of a Water Vole feeding at the far end of the beck, digging up the earth to reach roots, which it avidly ate. In the nearby Alder tree, we also had a small flock of Siskins feeding, preceded by two or three Lesser Redpolls. A Sparrowhawk also zipped overhead, too fast to get a proper view.

“As in other parts of the reserve, we also heard and saw good numbers of Bullfinches, both male and female.

“Coming back from the culvert, we all had superb, close views of a Goldcrest, feeding in the trees about six feet (2 metres, if you want to go EU!) above the path.”

All in  all, a successful event, but we hope to tempt more people to these “taster” mornings in future months.

18 February 2012 | Categories: Wildwatch | Tags: goldcrest, sparrowhawk, water vole