On arrival, those wanting to have a leisurely start to the day, headed to the café, to try the homemade cakes (which I am told, didn’t disappoint!). The rest of the group split up, to head in different directions, depending on their specific areas of interest; flowers, insects, birds etc.
At varying points in the day, our paths crossed and we swapped sightings, as we made our way around the different trails and visited the large number of hides. We got caught in a ten minute heavy downpour later on during the day, causing some of us to don our over trousers but those in hides at the time, barely noticed it.
One of the more memorable moments of the day for the birders was when, through a team effort by a group of spotters, we found a skulking Water Rail, which decided to oblige and swim across a water channel right in front of the hide. One member got so excited that she shouted at the top of her voice, “Water Rail!”. This caused the poor bird to dive into the reeds as fast as it possibly could, to escape the attention of the marauders. Unfortunately this meant that the rest of the hide full of people missed the rare sighting!
Later on during the day in the hexagonal hide (they’re posh in Yorkshire!), a Bittern was spotted sitting on a branch, with most of its body visible above the reeds. Now, only the spotter got onto it in that position but the rest of the hide caught it as it flew across the back of the lake.
On the mammal front, sightings of Common Shrew and Wood Mouse caused some excitement, as did Yellow Archangel, which was definitely the plant of the day, found by our intrepid flora duo, who spent a lot of time on their knees, examining the undergrowth at close quarters!
There were clear views of Seven-Spot Ladybird, Nettle Weevil and Scorpionfly.
Brimstones were seen from various hides, as well as some of our more regular butterflies.
And for those who are less eagle eyed, the rather large carving of a newt was rather appealing.
One of the noticeable features of the day was that despite the precautionary warnings to take insect repellent (and some people had definitely bathed in it!) there was a distinct absence of biting insects. Only one bite was recorded, unlike on the recce the previous year, when one poor soul virtually got eaten alive! A tasty mortal, obviously!
We all met up at the end of the day on the decking outside the café, with many of the group savouring one of the variety of flavours of local farmhouse ice cream.
People were reluctant to leave, despite the early start that morning but finally everyone got back on the bus for our journey home. We were back in Bamber Bridge, before you could shout, “Water Rail!”.
A gentle snoring floating down the bus throughout the drive back to Lancashire.
Between us, the group identified 62 species of birds, 5 species of butterfly, 6 types of mammals and 48 species of plants.
Thanks go to Thomas, who reduced the average age of those on the coach significantly and who had the sharpest eyes and longest bird list of the trip (all sightings verified).
A big thank you to Peter Ross & David Norton for providing the plant list and Linda Shearwood for acting as the bird, butterfly and mammal recorder.
Photos courtesy of David Norton and Kayleigh Roebuck.
Field Trip Organiser