The pied flycatchers and redstarts have been back for several weeks now. Thankfully after many days of keen anticipation they have been joined by the third member of our migrant trio. We had our first spotted flycatcher sighting of the year on the 11th of May. This was followed by several more sightings over the next couple of days. So far they have mostly been spotted, no pun intended, down by the pooh sticks bridge, making this a great place to potentially see all three species.
Spotted flycatcher - Andy Hay
It's not just your eyes that you need to keep peeled on a visit to Coombes Valley, your ears are in for a treat too because right now the woodland is simply alive with birdsong. Why not come down and see if you can tell the difference between the fluting song of a blackcap and the scratchy song of a garden warbler. It's more difficult than it sounds.
There's plenty more to be seen here at this time of the year. On sunny days reptiles such as common lizards and slow worms can be seen basking in order to warm themselves up. I've always had a particular fondness for reptiles so I'm delighted whenever I catch a glimpse. The western side of the Woodcock Trail seems to be a hot spot at the moment for creatures of the scaled variety.
Common lizard - RSPB Images
Wildflowers are out in force at the moment. Parts of the reserve are currently clad in a beautiful covering of bluebells, which add a vivid splash of colour to the woodland. They are joined by red campion and forget-me-not. All of which combine to make our woodland simply stunning at the moment. Another flower that is currently in bloom is blue bugle. This species has an angular stem which has sides that alternate between being hairy and smooth. A brilliant quirk of nature. I must not forget the wood anemones which are a particular favourite of Katy, our Visitor Experience Officer. Personally I'm a bluebell fan.
Beautiful bluebells - Chris Calow
Blue bugle - Chris Calow
Plenty of flowers means plenty of insects. Orange tip butterflies are currently on the wing, fluttering their way from flower to flower, collecting nectar as they go. Something special to search for at this time of year is the very rare argent and sable moth. It's only found at fifteen sights in England, and we're one of them. This black and white day flying moth is very fussy and requires very specific habitats. Their larval food plant is birch, but only young birch will do. We manage our birch on a ten year rotation in order to help the moths. There are several spots on the Woodcock Trail that should be especially tempting to them. It's the right time of year but we haven't seen any yet, so be on the look out.
Argent and Sable - Kayleigh Brookes
Keep watching for more news of what can be seen at Coombes Valley.