Saturday, 14 February 2009

Walking in the Valley

Coombes Valley Bird Reserve is an area of Staffordshire set aside by the RSPB as managed habitat for local bird populations. There is a small visitor reception, car parking and a picnic area and toilets. This reserve is ideal for the walker or bird enthusiast. It is situated off the A523 Ashbourne to Leek road, the turning is signposted near Bradnop.
Bullfinches were picking buds from the trees near the car park when we arrived. We also spotted great tits and blue tits in the first 50 yards of the walk. On the way round to the pond we saw goldfinch, sparrow, crow, wood pigeon, magpie, redstart and coal tit.
The pond at the far end of the reserve was well and truly frozen, with a thick cap of ice and a covering of snow on the banks. I was expecting to see a few water species, but in this condition the pond was devoid of bird life. There are occasionally kingfishers and dippers to be seen around the pond and the river, but not today.
This nuthatch gave a good display, flitting from branch to branch in a nearby tree. We also spotted collared doves and jays on our walk back to the car park.
Deep in the woods, the snow had melted and the streams were flowing freely. It was warmer in the valley bottom and a little muddy as well. A good days adventure.

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