Well, spring is now in full bloom and the reserve is beginning to look marvellously colourful once again. Despite the odd snow showers (the British weather never seems to be able to make its mind up about what season it is nowadays!) RSPB Sandwell has been bustling with visitors, both regular and new. It’s always wonderful to meet new faces and show people what they can do on the reserve and around the valley.

The Easter holidays were fantastic, and the Easter Egg Hunt proved to be great fun for all. There was one day however when it absolutely tipped it down and the poor maps and answer sheets alas were slightly bedraggled, but the brave explorers would not be deterred and completed the challenge. At each ‘Egg Point’ there were a few activities to complete - one of them was to create a little house or shelter for a small creature. We had houses for hedgehogs and bats and mice, and perches for birds to sit on. Someone even made a home for a worm.

Moving on into May we’ve got lots of new events on the go. There’s a Bank Holiday Nature Scavenger Hunt for our young intrepid hunters, and a Dawn Chorus Walk for those feeling extra alert and don’t mind going on a walk at 5 o’clock in the morning!

And then there are the regular activities that can be enjoyed every weekend by all the family. One of our most popular activities is Pond Dipping – what person can resist rolling up their sleeves, grabbing a net and sifting through ponds for tiny creatures? We’ve had all sorts in our ponds: newts, water beetles, leeches, pond skaters and much more.

Water beetle – David Callear

Awesome facts about Pond Creatures:

  • Newts can live between 2 and 15 years
  • In America, pond skaters are known as pond striders
  • A water boatman has a little air bubble under its abdomen so it can be submerged in water for a long time
  • Water fleas have a heart rate of 180 beats per minute!
  • There are 40 different kinds of water snail in Britain
  • Male backswimmers make a sound underwater similar to a cricket
  • Midge phantom larvae are also known as glassworms because they’re completely transparent


Pond Dipping Tips:

  • Move your net in a figure-of-eight sweep to make sure you catch something
  • Remember these creatures are a lot smaller than you, so be careful when removing them from their homes and put them back gently when you’ve finished looking
  • Always check your tray carefully – you never know what might be hiding in amongst the weeds!

Photo credit – Andy Purcell

If you feel like coming along to do a bit of dipping with family or friends, or just by yourself, you can hire a kit from the visitor centre for just £3. You’ll receive a net, a white tray, a magnifying glass, a spoon and of course something to identify all those strange, funny-looking creatures you might find. Remember to keep an eye out for our other upcoming events too! You can find more information about everything that’s happening over on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/RSPBWestMidlandsWarwickshire/events/