Three of us agreed to get up early and try and make a pre-breakfast
visit just across the road to Wells Cathedral.
We were inside just before 7am and had this imposing and immense
building almost all to ourselves bar a gentleman putting out candles and
another tuning up the immense Grand Piano that presumably would be part of the
Kennedy performance that evening. The
Cathedral is a truly wonderous and ancient creation with incredible stonework,
towering arches, a massive organ in the centre, decorated ceilings, touch-worn
caskets, gleaming stain-glass windows and a fine eagle lectern.
Back outside the Ravens kronked avidly from the top of the towers
and surveyed their domain and a large stately circular Yew stood in the
One last breakfast
and then the faff of getting the van back to the front of the Swan Hotel but by
just after 8.30 we were underway and off for a last few hours in Avalon.
The SWT reserve at Catcott was our choice of stop and we
were soon in the car park where Great White Egrets and the sounds of many
whistling Wigeon greeted us. The habitat
from the main hide was very different to the sites further east with a huge
sedge bed interspersed with a myriad of pools that were teaming with dabbling
duck. As expected Wigeon were in the
majority given the volume of whistling but there were a few Pintail, Shoveler
and Teal too. I looked for Garganey but
had no joy but unlike at the other sites there were Lapwings tumbling in
energetic display and it was good to hear them in fine voice for the first time
this spring. There were more Greylags
and Canada Geese here too and Reed Buntings were singing from several high
|Wigeon, Gadwall and Lapwing|
|Great White in the landscape|
From here we walked down the lane to the main access path
passing a couple of singing Chiffchaffs on the way before following the muddy
lane into the damp woodland. The sedge fields were still pretty dry despite all
the rain but hopefully they will soon have breeding waders and duck on
them. Cetti’s Warblers could be heard
from the Alder lined ditches and the verges held flowering Gorse, White and Red Dead
Nettle and a few Dandelions but despite the slight climb in temperature there
were no insects in attendance.
The trail to the Tower Hide was followed and it took us
through to some fine wet heathland sheltered in the heart of the complex. Clumps of Bog Myrtle were scattered around
and some of the chestnut buds were opening to reveal the curious flowers hidden
within. Treecreepers, Coal Tits and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were all heard
and like most places around here there were Bullfinches calling out of sight.
Elf Cups were common and I looked under the leaves of the fine Hart’s Tongue
Ferns to discover the mobile home made up of the plant’s sporangia of one of
the two Psychoides moth larva but I was not going to probe further to discover
what colour its head was!
|Hart’s Tongue Fern|
|Psychoides sp moth larva near the midrib under sporangia|
|Scarlet Elf Cups|
|A Hedge Snail Song Thrush anvil on the hard anti slip elements of the boardwalk|
|A spring leaf beetle - Probably Altica lythri|
|Another close Barn Owl encounter|
The loop took us eventually to the hide which was quite
literally full of Flies! They must have
hibernated in there and emerged when it warmed up slightly and could not get
out. I did my best to release a few but
they stubbornly insisted in heading back to the windows. Many seemed to be Pollenia (Cluster Flies with
their golden hairs) along with a few Musca autumnalis. Four big fat Queen Common Wasps were a little
easier to persuade that the outside world would be a better place for them.
The pools below were only home to a few Coots and a pair of
Mute Swan and two Cormorants came in for a feed. Bearded Tits could be heard pinging from the
Phragmites along the back and with a bit of patience we all go good views of
both sexes as they clambered around.
This was one of our missing species so it was good to get one new bird
for the last day.
| Bearded Tit - Andy Buck|
With time getting on we ambled back to the van with a stop
at some old workings pools in the woods amazingly giving brief views of a Great
Crested Newt lounging on the surface before plopping back down with a flick of
its long tail. The sun had even come out
although the wind had got up and two male Brimstones appeared as if by magic
and zoomed up and down the path. Alder and
Grey Poplar catkins blew in the breeze and a Little Ringed Plover flew over
calling a couple of times but I just could not find it. A Pond Skater appeared on a puddle in front of us and Roe Deer tracks could be seen in the mud. Amazing what you see what you look down as well as up!
|Roe Deer tracks|
|Pond Skater - not sure of the species yet|
|The Gang... we had a laugh|
Back at the van it was time to say farewell to Andy before I
headed north to drop Claire and Jon in Bristol and Dave and Margaret back at
Speech House. With the passengers all
safely dropped off I only had the cross country journey back to Great Ryburgh
to go. It was actually an ok journey
that took me quite literally cross country to avoid some serious problems on
the M42 and I skirted many spots I had never been near before. Towards the end I encountered a herd of about 200 Whooper Swans alongside the A47 somewhere near Wisbech and a Little Owl up
on a wire (sorry Claire) to round off an exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable
five days away.
I spent the night at Dower House again and even manged to
pop out before breakfast the next morning and see Cattle Egret, both
Partridges, Grey Wagtails and even Avocets around the village. I handed the van back to Nick and began the
last bit of my journey back to Kent.
The first lichen is Flavoparmelia caperata ;-) BobReplyDelete