Trip reports

Visit to Coombes Valley and Tittesworth Water

Visit to Coombes Valley and Tittesworth Water
Upper Churnet River (Photo: Peter Berrill)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

We stopped briefly at the Blithfield Reservoir en route to see 'what's about'. "We'll have half an hour here" I said. Hundreds of swifts and hirundines were skimming back and forth over the water battling against the strong cold wind. A single great crested and cormorant were the only other birds close enough to make out. I said to Lesley, my wife (the lady what I live with). "We may as well get back on the coach". We turned and realised we were the only ones still out there.

Coombes Valley was completely different. Sheltered from the wind, the clouds beginning to break up; a little sunshine peeped through. The Visitor Centre staff arrived after us, so everybody had disembarked before the coach could park in the now, unlocked, car park.

The group dispersed to do their own thing and we met up with Betty Needham, a former leader of our group who now lives near Ashbourne. We spend a pleasant couple of hours in her company by the bridge over Coombes Brook, chatting and watching pied flycatcher, redstart and a pair of great spotted woodpecker feeding young.

Because we had been double booked in the car park we had arranged a swap with the Hitchin and Letchworth Local Group, we would take their place at nearby Tittesworth Water after lunch.

Tittesworth Water was built in 1860 to supply the dyeing industry in Leek then later extended to supply both Leek and Stoke on Trent with drinking water.

After picking up a Trail Guide from the Visitor Centre we took the footpath along the River Churnet seeing both pied and spotted flycatcher seemingly ignoring the many families with small children rushing around shouting excitedly. This is a Country Park not a Nature Reserve although it does have its quieter spots.

From the road bridge over the river a pair of grey wagtails flitted from rock to rock in midstream. Further along the road three raven passed by heading towards 'The Roaches' which dominated the skyline. The hedgerow hid a calling lesser whitethroat, always that little bit ahead of us.

A small lake opposite the Reservoir is a nature reserve and there we had mandarin duck, common sandpiper and a nesting oystercatcher.

The bird of the day was definitely the pied flycatcher especially one singing high in a tree by the Churnet.

Peter and Lesley Berrill