Bees luck has returned! Torrential rain on Monday, calm conditions on Tuesday. Our mystery trip brought the Bees party of 11 by minibus to the familiar surroundings of Rodley nature reserve. Margaret, Marilyn and June had made their own way there. Following a cup of tea and mince pie in the visitors centre Graham gave us an overview of what we might look out for on the reserve. Water levels have been lowered in the reed bed area and this had encouraged the water rail to show itself. Otters were now regularly seen in the river by the bridge. He told us the harvest mice introduction programme was continuing despite the devastation of last year's flooding with a view to their introduction into a more sheltered corner of the reserve. "Weasel" shouted Joan and people gathered to look through the widows of the visitor centre. Also on view were the many little birds attracted to the feeders in the Bee garden. They included goldfinch, chaffinch, bullfinch, blue tit, great tit, robin and dunnock.
We proceeded to complete a circular walk mainly on gravel paths around the reserve calling at the ponds, gazebo and hides. The birds flying overhead in a flock over the fields were later identified as linnet. In and around the reed beds were heron, grey wagtail, moorhen, coot, carrion crow, reed bunting and pheasant. In the lagoons were gadwall in good numbers, teal, wigeon, great crested grebe, two little grebes, mute swan and cygnets. A greenfinch was seen in the manager's garden. Greylag geese, Canada geese, gulls and several jays were seen in the fields. Unusually no birds of prey were sighted. Again strangely tufted duck were not seen. A bank vole was seen disappearing into the coppice woodland. The main interest from a botanical perspective was a spindle tree with attractive pink berries and glowing red leaves on the butterfly bank also a single cowslip alongside the visitor centre. There was a lot of colour in the landscape, not all the trees had shed leaves. John and Joan took especial interest in the fungi species which included honey fungus, willow bracket, purple pore bracket and jelly ear. We were impressed with the condition of the reserve, hedges had been restored leaving gaps for water to run through, the children's pond dipping area had been rebuilt with an additional shelter, there was now ramp access to the first hide. We settled down for lunch and another cuppa in the visitor centre. June had brought several Rodley calendars for 2017 which were available for purchase.
Our afternoon was spent visiting the special area set aside for the Rodley robins. Sally and Denise have established this group for younger children which meets monthly on a Saturday with the aim of developing a children's love and understanding for the natural world as well as having fun. The group have their own small nature reserve in an area that was originally a pheasant coup. Sally explained that they had developed a number of mini habitats within the area for the children to observe wildlife.
I think everyone agreed that it had been a splendid day out from both the wildlife and social perspective, with some added suspense
Thanks go to Graham for his generosity to the group also leaders Sally and Margaret not forgetting Marilyn for running the cafe.
See the photos here.