A fine morning saw a group of 7 of us arrive at St Ives to meet up with Sue, Alan and Marje, who had arrived by car. Unfortunately Joan, our leader for the day, had been taken ill and so it fell to myself to lead our group around the varied habitats of the estate. Our start was delayed slightly as we waited for Lorna to arrive but a decision was eventually made to set off and trust we would meet her later, which I am delighted to say we did. However whilst waiting, we did hear our first bird of the day - a woodpecker drumming in the trees just below the car park.
We headed first for Baxter's Pond. On our way John identified the first of our fungus sightings for the day - smoky bracket. It proved, as the day unfolded, to be a very productive site as a whole for fungi as we identified also ganoderma, pestle puffball, candle snuff, turkey tail, jelly ear, birch polypore and hairy curtain crust as we progressed on our walk.
After Baxter's Pond we headed for Coppice Pond where we saw coot, mute swan, female goosander, black headed gulls and numerous mallard. Further along the path we stopped at the bird hide where there were good sightings of treecreeper, nuthatch, dunnock, robin, blue and great tits, blackbird, wood pigeon and some very acrobatic squirrels rifling the bird feeders! Hunger got the better of us at this point and we doubled back to the picnic tables where we lunched in the sunshine.
Our walk then took us past Coppice Pond and up towards Lady Blantyre's statue, which sadly seems to have been removed from her usual look-out. We continued up the slope, past the golf course, where Robert spotted a song thrush, to the top of Altar Lane. Here we stopped to admire the view across the valley. A gentle stroll then took us back down to the car park via Blind Lane, where Robert caught sight of a kestrel sitting high on a tree top.
Flower sightings consisted of snowdrops and hazel catkins but Alice was particularly impressed with the quantity and variety of lichens and mosses she encountered as we went round. A lovely day enjoyed by all. Thanks to Robert for driving. See photos here.