When we last visited this site in Aug 2015 we encountered horrible weather. It rained heavily most of the day and the group spent most of their time in the Visitor Centre, which it has to be said is rather splendid, but still! This time we all hoped for a better outcome and we were not disappointed: blue sky, a gentle breeze and pleasantly warm all day.
We arrived at 11:00 and shortly after begun our circuit of this 110-acre country park by following the blue trail signs eastwards along the banks of the estuary. Black-tailed Godwits, B H Gulls, Redshank & Curlews were soon spotted on the vast expanse of mud. I also saw what looked like a Vapourer Moth on the estuary wall but it just as quickly vanished from site. That was to be the only moth seen all day? Butterflies were however plentiful, with numerous sightings of Small Whites, Speckled Woods, Red Admirals, Peacocks and the occasional Comma. Before we took a right turn that was to lead us into the central part of the site we were joined by Angela and Stuart who we have met up with on previous excursions into Lincolnshire.
It was soon lunch time and we had our picnics somewhere in the vicinity of the Big Pond. It would have been nice to actually see the pond but as with most of the site's wetland areas the height of the vegetation got in the way. Many of the 'good quality' benches around the site are now only facing birch trees, brambles, tall nettles etc. If nothing is done to remedy this issue it won't be long before all the internal ponds are totally obscured from view! Numerous dragonflies were seen throughout the day, some at close quarters mating or oviposting but 2 species only! Migrant Hawker and Common Darter.
The total bird count was 26 and included Marsh Harrier and Chiff Chaff. A pair of short-billed greyish waders which displayed white wing bars when they flew off had us all foxed. I now wonder if they could have been juvenile Grey Plovers on migration. The time of year and habitat would be right? Alice and Joan recorded 105 plants the most notable of which were Bristly Ox-tongue, Large Rock Stonecrop, Sea Buckthorn, Spindle and Guelder Rose. Plenty of berries for the birds this winter!
Oddly not a single fungus was found. I wondered if this might be down to the site being reclaimed industrial land. Large chemical works had previously occupied the site and although it has been admirably landscaped the soil may still be toxic or just not suited to the growth of fungi because the trees are too young;not enough dead wood?
Most of the group naturally ended the day with a cuppa in the VC. Some of us even had cake!
The journey back took longer as we met school traffic in Barton and commuter traffic on the M62 and M606. Well done to Stuart our driver and to Alice for leading (albeit usually from the rear! but that is botanists for you).
See the photos here.