Sunny, becoming more overcast
A group of approximately 15 TT members gathered in the car park at Rixton Claypits in good spirits, the warm, dry conditions tempting even the colder-blooded to shed fleeces and shun waterproofs.
It became obvious immediately that the dense foliage was going to make bird-sightings challenging, but the group sallied forth, hoping for a bit of sunshine at least to encourage butterflies and dragonflies to appear. After a brief stop at the Visitor Centre, where a few late arrivals were relieved to find the main body of the group, having become hopelessly lost in the wilds of Rixton, TT set forth on its quest. A scrutiny of the nearby pond and fields revealed …. very little, but, undeterred, the group pressed on – some to scour the water ahead, finding coot, mallard, Canada goose and tufted duck, while others studied the beauty of the wildflower meadows and were rewarded eventually by sightings of meadow brown, common blue, cinnabar and six-spot burnet.
Moving on along the boardwalk birdsong could be heard coming from every direction, the birds themselves proving difficult to locate. But glimpses of chiffchaff, willow warbler, wren and treecreeper were noted, along with froglets on the ground and martins flying overhead. Again the flowers were a source of wonder, including Northern marsh orchid a-plenty.
The pace now quickened (it needed to!),as the woodland paths were reached leading to the rest of the site.
A change of plan now occurred – or maybe just a wrong turning – to follow the acorn route to the further reaches of the reserve: how daring was that? With map in hand and a confusing compass, and a great deal of discussion, previously unknown paths were tried, opening up whole new areas. When did this site become so big? The wander through woods and alongside water was pleasant enough in its own right, but sightings of more chiffchaffs (no doubt this time), nuthatch, great tits and blackcap made the bird list more respectable too. On the water a swan with cygnets were spotted – then so many toadlets(?) crossing the path made walking almost impossible without fear of causing untimely deaths. Yet no such worries for the buzzard above with prey in talons, nor for the stoat (or weasel) with something large in its mouth, spotted by one of the team.
Eventually a return to familiar territory suggested that lunchtime was approaching and a now long file of weary and contented ramblers returned to the car park.
A lovely morning spent in a delightful area so close to home. The birdlife may have been limited, but flowers and foliage in abundance certainly made up for it, ensuring that no-one went home disappointed. (MHo)
Bird List (BP)
- Canada Goose
- Tufted Duck
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- House Martin
- Song Thrush
- Chiff Chaff
- Willow Warbler
- Long-tailed Tit
- Blue Tit
- Great Tit
- Carrion Crow
Butterflies: Speckled Wood; Common Blue; Gatekeeper; Meadow Brown Moths: Cinnabar; Six-spot Burnet