Leader: Steve Chapman
Reporter: Liz Bridge
What a great place to visit for an enjoyable and informative walk. We had enjoyed Steve’s messaging about this place and the variety of birds and other nature which he had enjoyed over the last few months. Now we could experience it for ourselves.
We met at the Reception Centre and were immediately impressed by the quiet and calm. On the drive up from the gate we could see signs of an airfield which had been used in the Second World War. A small lake by the side of the car park gave us the inevitable Mallard and a brief sighting of a Moorhen. Bird song was all round us and Nuthatch, Blackcaps and the call of the Cuckoo could be picked up.
We wandered through the wood, not really seeing birds as there are so many leaves on the trees now and, of course, they are quite actively into their breeding season and do not really want to attract attention to themselves. Although we did hear a fair bit of singing. A Song Thrush was a particular delight to me. Blackcaps seemed to be everywhere, Chiff Chaffs, a brief song of a Willow Warbler as we neared the large lake. Common Whitethroats were also around.
The main attraction on this lake were Harry and Megan: This is a pair of Mute Swans which Steve has been feeding on a regular basis. So regularly that when he called Harry from the far side of the lake, he obediently came, although that might have had something to do with Steve throwing out some food onto the water! We had a lone Common Tern and Swifts circling high in the air. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was sighted in a tree along the edge of the lake. At one point we also heard a Green. The walk through the wood led seamlessly into The Great Wood, which is not actually part of the country park. This is a place of ancient times which can be accessed separately.
Along the edges of the rides, with the right weather and time of year, butterflies such as the White Admiral and Silver washed Fritillary can be found, along with dragonflies. damsel flies etc. But not today as we had had more or less 24 hours of rain; it was damp and quite cold. We did, however, pick up the song of a Garden Warbler, well hidden from view. A circular route brought us back into the country park and we wandered round the edge overlooking farm fields. A Rookery is seen over the far side and a considerable number of birds flying around the tops of the trees. Further round we looked over an uncultivated site where two Mistle Thrushes were seen feeding.
This really was calm way to spend a Saturday morning and our thanks go to Steve for introducing us to this lovely area.