Trip reports

Vinters Valley Nature Reserve (Leader Warren Mann)

Vinters Valley Nature Reserve (Leader Warren Mann)
Great tit [Louise Greenhorn]

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Vinters Valley Nature Reserve was a new venue for nearly all the 12 who assembled in Lodge Road opposite the TV studios, but apparently, according to our leader Trevor, the Group has visited there before in years past.

From a viewing screen set into the boundary wall we were able to see what was being attracted to the feeders, and as well as the expected robin, dunnock, great tit and coal tit, the main beneficiaries seemed to be a family of rats - 2 large adults and numerous offspring. They were not content with just rooting around for spilt feed, but they climbed up the bare, spindly tree trunks in numerous but unsuccessful attempts to get at the feeders themselves.

The reserve is managed by a local community group and occupies the remaining undeveloped land of what was once a large estate. When the main house burnt down in the 1950's most of the land was sold off, so the reserve is an oasis surrounded by housing and commercial development. It does have a variety of habitats, mainly woodland, but also some glades and a small lake. We were not surprised to see the first of numerous jays, plus wood pigeon, blackbird, jackdaw, mistle thrush, wren, goldcrest (first heard by some but seen later) and great spotted woodpecker. The lake yielded black-headed gull, mallard and mute swan, but not the hoped-for kingfisher. A later visit added wigeon, moorhen and coot.

Back along the woodland paths we first heard and then had prolonged views of a juvenile nuthatch. As we progressed we saw tree creeper, long-tailed tit, chaffinch, blue tit and goldfinch.

As its name suggests the reserve is hilly and has several sets of steps. We were scanning an open area in the woods when one of our number decided to ascend one particularly steep stairway. He made slow progress but eventually disappeared from view. After a while he reappeared and made a cautious descent. At the bottom he proudly announced, "No birds, but a really terrific view of the crematorium." Having come to a dead end we took this as our cue to complete our walk. We did get second sightings of great-spotted woodpecker and mistle thrush, but we were unable to find any of the redwings and fieldfares promised by our leader.

Only 28 species but a pleasant enough walk in the early autumn sunshine.

Warren Mann