Bright sunshine all day
Team Tuesday gathered early in the village car park spotting jackdaws and 4 buzzards even before we’d had our briefing. Today John was our leader, having kindly arranged for us to have access to this secluded gem of a nature reserve. A short stroll through the village found us debating whether the 2 rescued barn owls we’d seen could be counted on the day’s list: we decided against.
From the observatory a pair of bullfinches, as well as cormorants and rabbits were the main talking points, and we soon headed off towards the lefthand side of the mere. We learnt that Rostherne Mere bordered the glacial reach during the last Ice Age and is 100 feet deep. The depth and expanse of the mere means that it is the last sheet of water in this area to freeze in the winter consequently acting as a refuge for large numbers of water fowl.
Across the field we had wonderful views over the water, with cormorants and possibly 30 nests in the far trees and closer to we were looked down upon by a ginger felis catus perched high up in a tree. We stopped by the inlet where John explained about the work being done to encourage the reed bed growth. On through the bluebell laden woods, blackcap and chiffchaff were noted along with peacock and brimstone butterflies and some members of TT saw 3 great spotted woodpeckers flying through the trees. The damp ground encouraged wood splurge and an unusual fungus called King Alfred’s Cake as black as the original cakes must have been. These are also known as Cramp Balls so named because carrying them was thought to ward off cramp. Suddenly we realised the background hum of the traffic had been overtaken by the noise of the cormorant families as we found ourselves walking quietly behind the nests.
Emerging from the wood we walked across the field towards a viewpoint, only to find ourselves facing a charging group of young cows, fortunately they were only being curious, but it was a little unnerving to see them running across the fields towards us, particularly as we had left one of our group behind on their own. All was well, however, as we returned through the wood, to reach the field and then the lane where a fracas in the trees was thought to have been caused by a sparrowhawk. A treecreeper showed itself to us right by the church and the group then split into those going home and those staying for an afternoon perambulation.
Those spending their lunch hour on the church benches were rewarded with orange tip butterflies, a nuthatch, 2 great crested grebes doing part of their courtship ritual and a flypast from a great spotted woodpecker. Then we were ready for part 2 of this Rostherne walk. Down through the trees to take in the badger sett and good views of a treecreeper followed by a lengthy discussion about the leg colouration of chiffchaff and willow warbler. Reed buntings came into view, and as we entered the reed bed we heard sedge warbler close to and the yaffle of a green woodpecker in the background. These 2 birds teased us for half an hour or so as we could hear them clearly, but with no sightings to be had.
We reached the woodland, could smell the wild garlic and see the bluebells, but decided it was time to turn back only stopping in The Whitley Hide for a Mandarin duck and a female goldeneye to be added to the day’s list. Here, we also had time to appreciate the work that is carried out by the warden and the volunteers at Rostherne, which encourages so much flora and fauna to prosper, and to thank John for such an enjoyable and informative day. (HP)
Bird List (MH)
1. Canada goose
5. Great crested grebe
7. Common buzzard
10. Lesser black-backed gull
11. Stock dove
13. Collared dove
14. Great spotted woodpecker
19. Willow warbler
22. Long-tailed tit
23. Coal tit
24. Blue tit
25. Great tit
30. Carrion crow
34. Reed bunting
Also heard: green woodpecker and sedge warbler.
Butterflies: brimstone, small tortoiseshell, peacock, orange tip, small white.