On a beautiful cool but sunny morning 3 members set off for Rutland Water at 8 am.

Charles Seymour, Linda and Mick Fairest.


We arrived at approx 9.30 to find from the leaflets available that the site had been somewhat extended since our last visit (28 hides in all). It was impossible to cover all the hides in one day especially in a short winter day perhaps on a longer summer day it could be done at a rush but ideally a weekend would be better!!


It was decided we would cover the usual hides to the left, return to the visitor centre and cover the ones to the right in the afternoon together with one or two new ones.


The hedgerows were covered in berries which were mainly Sloe, Hawthorn and Snow.  We also noted a couple of colourful Spindle bushes which shone in the bright sunshine.


We all agreed that the massive number of birds present on the reserve were the most we had seen for a long time.  There were thousands of Golden Plover, good numbers of Greylag Geese, Gadwall, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal etc etc.  The light was excellent and showed the birds in all their glory.


From the Lapwing Hide we had excellent views of a Peregrine as it sat on the waters edge devouring its prey.


The Ospreys had left but there were a pair of Egyptian Geese perched atop “their” nesting pedestal overlooking Lagoon 4 and visible from the Sandpiper, Dunlin and Plover hides.  We counted 16 Egyptian Geese in all so they are obviously doing well  (none appeared to be wearing rings).


From the Gadwall Hide in the afternoon we again had good views of a Peregrine (it may or may not have been the one seen earlier) calmly sitting at the waters edge.

Members: 3    Birds: 52     Flowers: 4                                                        Reporter: L. Fairest


Sunday October 23rd                                                                                Visit to North Cave Reserve

Having left Dronfield at 8.30am we had arrived at the North Cave Reserve and had “booted up” by 10am. The weather was fine but overcast. There were just five of  us again this morning

Our first visit was to the South Hide where we spent about half an hour looking over a lake watching Dabchicks diving and catching little siver fish just in front of us, with Shovelers, Tufted Ducks and Great Crested Grebes all seeming to keep close to the raft. There were many signs of rabbit presence then one was spotted on the bankside.

We left the hide and made our way down the lane. To our L.H.S. The land was both carved out and heaped up for sand extraction, whilst on our R.H.S. Crab Apple trees had dropped their fruit to carpet the ground below. The path was rough with many puddles of water but plenty of space to walk and keep our feet dry.

At 10.45am we arrived at the new Crossland Hide with its straw insulated walls and grassy roof. From the lane we had to take a zig-zag path to reach the hide. Inside it was very new with fabric covered seats and formica topped benches decorated with beautiful bird illustrations and a central information board. The building is six sided and looks out mostly over excavations where the different layers of soil were exposed  showing bands of colour ranging from sandy, green (clay), pinks and browns. V-formations of geese flew over but bird-wise there was not much to see yet from this brand new hide.

Next we took a green grassy path beside the Carp Lake. The hedgerows were still rich with red Hawthorn berries and Crab Apples. More geese flew over and Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinch and Wren called from the hedges as we walked along. On the lake Gadwall, Coot and Mallard were all noted.

The walk we were taking is roughly rectangular and soon we reached a deep ditch which separated us from agricultural land and at this point the path right-angled to follow the ditch on our left and the lake on our right. Suddenly the hedge was no more and we were beside the lake where the cold wind took us by surprise and layers of extra clothing were promptly sought out!!

More and more V’s of geese flew over making a lot of noise as they went. We soon left the lake behind and our surroundings became green and flat, but we soon came to a deep hollow containing water and many lily pads (no flowers). There were then more of  these hollows most of them holding some water but not deep. A few yards further and we stopped to admire a Charm of  Chaffinches as they gathered together along a wire fencing before flying away from us.

The cloudy sky was more broken up by now and the sun was trying to break through. Field Pansies and Speedwells brightened up the side of our path as we now headed toward the Turret Hide. This hide is reached  by quite a high flight of steps and so looks over the wet landscape from a good vantage point. Two Snipe were spotted first then a Redshank. There were many Black Headed Gulls and amongst them was a Common Gull. Many of the birds were in silhouette as we were by now looking directly into the sun. There were hundreds of Greylag Geese with ONE Bar Headed Goose amongst them. On the skyline were mountains of sand and equipment.

Our next call was to the East Hide which overlooks the Village Lake. From here we had close views of the geese who were making a lot of noise. There must have been about 300 Greylags with the odd Lapwing, a few Mallard and the one Bar Headed Goose.

Off we went again along the path which soon led us back once more to Dryham Lane where the car was parked. Here we dropped of our Rucsacks before wandering a little further along to where a seat offered a brief rest (too good to miss) this overlooked a lake but not so much much to see now- only B.H. Gulls and an occasional Great Crested Grebe. The “A” Team wandered a little further while the “B” Team remained on the seat.

Members: 5    Birds: 41    Flowers: 21                                                        Reporter: J. Smithson


Sunday October 9th                                                                                    Fungas Foray- Cordwell Valley

After a long period with no rain which had only ended quite recently, there was not a lot of fungi to be found in Cordwell Valley this morning. Yesterday there was quite heavy rain, today it was fine but dull.

As we began our walk through the fields beside the river, we  could hear the hounds barking in the distance. Flowers were few and far between- there was alone Dandelion, an old Meadow Buttercup here and there with a few Herb Roberts bravely showing their pink faces through the long grass and the dead leaves.

Robind and Nuthatches were heard and the stream rippled its way over the stoney river bed, though we had noted a patch where the river bank had fallen away leaving a very sharp drop down to the water.

As we entered the woodland we found some Candle Snuff on a dead log, and a little further a couple of unidentified specimens which were well passed their best.

We crossed the rocky lane to take the path along the Braken covered moor, but here it was so wet and muddy but before we turned back, we had found an Inkcap and a Wood Aven to add to the lists.

Back into the woodland, some Birch Polypores were seen, then a Penny Bun Bolete. Here we had strayed from the path and blood was drawn as we battled thriugh the brambles. A little further came our prize sighting as a colourful patch of  Fly Agarics was found. We stopped here for a few minutes watching some little fish darting about in the river.

The sun was breaking thri=ough by now, so it was decided to take our lunch up to Shillito Wood where we enjoyed the fresh wind and the lovely view.

Members: 3   Fungii: 4   Birds: 6   Flowers: 8                                               Reporter: J. Smithson


Sunday September 25th                                                                              

Six members left Dronfield at 8am on this grey morning to make our second visit to the RSPB Reserve at Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire arriving at the reserve at 9.45am. We had passed through some drizzly weather on the journey but on arrival it was fine with a cool wind.

We quickly “booted up” and made our way across the car park to the Visitor’s Centre where the warden checked our cards and told us what to look out for today. From here we could look over the water and note Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Coot and Wigeon, with views of the Boston Stump on the horizon some 5 miles away.

Our first visit was to the 360° Hide, an octagonal building which had windows looking out in every direction as the name suggests. Much of the surrounding area could be best described as “scrubland “ with patches of wetland. Little Egrets, Lapwings, Greylag Geese and Ruff were spotted from here.

Next we made our way to the Reedbed Hide which was very crowded and all the window seats were taken by other birdwatchers so we waited patiently on the “back row” until there was space for us. From here we could see the artificial block with holes for Martins to nest in but no-one seemed to be at home today. Teal, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Heron and Marsh Harrier were added to the list here but the Two Spoonbills made of willow on the grass outside were not counted!

By now, it was almost lunchtime so we took the flight of steps up the embankment from where we could look down on the the Wash. Disappointingly it was even drier and greener than our last visit here in the spring. The River Witham was only a short distance away but was unseen below it’s own banks. Scrambling down another section of the embankment, we managed to get out of the wind and into the sunshine, so we camped here to eat our packed lunches.

The East Hide was next on our route but it was even more crowded in there with wind slamming the door every time someone came in or out. The distant Curlew Sandpiper seemed to be the main attraction, while the elegant Egrets posed unnoticed by the telescope bearing fraternity. Shelduck, Godwit and Ringed Plover were also present.

As we walked back to the Visitor’s Centre we were lucky enough to see a “charm” of Goldfinches feeding on the many Teasels growing here. Wild flowers were still abundant all round the reserve but had obviously been more colourful a few weeks ago. Sunflowers, Chicory, Moonpenny and Knapweeds being the most noticeable today.

At last we arrived back at the centre ( which was also very crowded) for a most welcome cup of coffee and use of the “facilities”. The sky was still blue, the sunshine still nice and warm and the wind still blowing heartily.

Members: 6   Birds: 39    Flowers: 29                                                         Reporter: J. Smithson


Thursday July 26th                                                                                      Visit to Ollerton Crossroads

Natural History in the Dark!

7 members left Greendale at 8.30 pm - Linda & Mick Fairest, Graham Gill, Neil Hardwick, Jean & Brian Smithson and David Snowden.

It was still light as we set off but almost dark as we arrived at the Nature Reserve at Ollerton Crossroads.

Neil led us off as the darkness deepened rapidly.  It was too dark to notice our immediate surroundings, but after a few minutes with the bat detector clicking loudly we stopped to watch some Soprano Pipistrelle Bats flying busily around in a little clearing of the trees.  We knew they were Sopranos because of the frequency picked up by the detector.

On we went, single file, trying to keep the one in front safely in sight.  Our next stop was in a grassy clearing and here we stood patiently waiting for the sound or appearance of Nightjars which we were informed were present here.  However, tonight they were not obliging.  Re-tracing our steps, we returned looking all the while for Glow Worms and at last ONE was spotted in the grass.  There it was glowing bravely as we all knelt on the grass for a closer look.  If there was one, surely there must be more and encouraged by this one sighting we searched and searched but no joy.

Back to the car park we tried not to be too downhearted and told ourselves we were lucky to see the one that we did.

Better luck next time.

                                                                                                                                    Reporter: J Smithson


Sunday July 31st                                                                                         Visit to Messingham Gravel Pits

On a perfect summers day, we left Dronfield to travel to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Reserve at Messingham.  This is an area once used for sand quarrying which has now reverted to that the Trust describes as Coversands Heathland.  With areas of Heather, Calcareous grasslands and inland sand dunes.

The walk we did took us in a roughly square route bringing us back to our starting point.

Much of the area is lakeland and according to our information Otters are alive and well here, so we began our visit to the seat from where we could watch for them.  Well, it was a nice day for sitting and admiring the view, but though Great Crested Grebes were seen and a Common Tern flew by there were no Otters!

Throughout the reserve it was rich with wild flowers.  The abundant patches of Hemp Agrimony each had great numbers of butterflies and hover-flies feeding on them, Red Admirals and Peacocks being the most prolific and colourful.

Blackberries were already ripening and the Rowan trees with heavily laden with bright red berries.

We walked on through rough, sandy grassland where grasshoppers jumped away from our feet, through woodland and between lakes with Brown Hawker Dragonflies chased all around us.  Some of the lakes had quite extensive reed beds.  There were 2 hides, the Duck Hide from where we watched numbers of Mute Swans moving gracefully around their lake and on the opposite bank, a colony of Greylag Geese rested and grumbled to each other.  Some local people told us that a Kingfisher had nested nearby but they were not at home today.

Passing huge heaps of sand we came to the Wader Hide where we were much closer to the Greylag Geese.  They seemed to be present in large numbers in whatever direction we looked and it was estimated there were in excess of 500.

We walked on and the flower list grew and grew as did the butterfly and bird lists.  In one area Dune Helleborines were being protected by red and white plastic tape where they were encroaching the footpath.  Photographs were taken of these rare plants even though the flowers had gone over.  At the end of the walk we returned to our Otter watching seat, but still no joy.  Ah well, better luck next time.


Members: 4     Flowers:  81   Birds:  32   Butterflies:  12    Insects/caterpillars:  6


                                                                                                                  Reporter:  J Smithson                       


Sunday July 3rd                                                                                           Visit to Sprotborough area

At the invitation of Mike Richardson, 4 members drove out once more to Sprotborough where he was waiting for us.  There is always something interesting to see on these visits and this morning was no exception.  As soon as we arrived we were taken quickly to the edge of the nearby pond where Dark Green Fritillaries fluttered amongst the Red Clover where they posed obligingly to be photographed - brightly patterned orange and black above and dark green underneath.  Ringlets and Small Skippers were also present but not so cooperative.

The pond was considerably smaller than on our last visit.  Many of the water plants were high and dry, but the population of small fish (Rudd) still wriggled about in the remaining water.

It was very hot today and as we climbed the hill to the higher meadows “clouts were being cast”.

In the fields above we were treated to the colourful sight of 100s of Pyramidal Orchids.  Common Spotted Orchids and Twayblades were also abundant but had obviously past their best.  The flower list grew longer every minute but the final delight was the discovery of a lone Bee Orchid.

Bird life was very quiet in the heat of the day but a Chiff Chaff was heard and a Grey Heron and a Buzzard both flew over.

Mike left us at midday but gave us directions to a spot where he knew Marbled White butterflies could be seen, so it was back to the car to drive through countryside between fields of corn dotted with red poppies. We parked beside the huge heap of soil, which had been described to us. at Cadeby Quarry from where we found the path which led us to a rough field.  This was covered by Goat’s Rue in every shade of blue from very pale to very dark and it was here that the Marbled White were found.  They were very active so not as easy to photograph as the fritillaries were earlier, but just here, we found another splendid Bee Orchid.

A little further along we found a rough little meadow which was yellow with Kidney Vetches and with a view over the Silver Birches to Conisbro village and castle.  We stopped here to eat our lunch.  Our walk then continued past the Earth Centre building which was closed.  We then took an old disused road for our return.  Beside the road, reeds grew in profusion.  It was quite dry today but must be very damp at other times.  Lots of concrete blocks lined a long section of the road then it was steep, grassy banks at either side with many limestone outcrops.

When we had walked under an old brick built bridge we were soon back to the car to enjoy a much needed cold drink.


Members:  4  Flowers:  76   Birds:  10   Insects:  9                                     Reporter J Smithson


Sunday June 19th                                                                                         Visit to Fairburn Ings

Fairburn in the rain!  The sky was covered by dark and heavy rain clouds.  Boots, raincoats, waterproof trousers and hats were all donned before we left the car.  Just the 4 of us today - Linda and Mick, Jean and Brian.  Out intention today was to go the Paxton Pits but as the weather was so bad we decided against such a long journey and instead made our way to Fairburn Ings.

From the car park to the Field Centre to check in, heads down through the rain, we passed the wild flower garden and at a glance noted Viper’s Bugloss, Dog Rose and Field Poppy.  We also noted a gigantic dragonfly, an unmissable object even on a day like today.  At the field centre we watched Goldfinch, Tree Sparrow and Great Tit on the feeders with 3 Mallard waddling underneath picking up any tasty morsel dropped from above.

The first hide was the Pickup Pool Hide - this is a one sided structure with seats attached and slots from where you can look out over the water.  The prime position here was held by a camera man with a lens the size of a dinner plate.  Us lesser mortals squeezed in wherever we could and watched a number of Lapwings flying about and a Moorhen scurrying across the mudflats.  A Cuckoo was calling and was even seen by the

sharp eyed amongst us.  Around the water various reeds and rushes grew in profusion and I think Yellow Flag Irises would have been colourful a few weeks ago.

Our next stop was at the Fence Hide (my name for it) - this is a sturdy fence decorated with plants and butterflies with many slots at various heights to peep through.  Behind the fence are a number of feeders which were actually being filled by the warden as we arrived, but though we hung about for a few minutes, there were no takers.

A little further on and we arrived at the Kingfisher Screen.  This was another holey wall which looked over a small channel of water where optimistically you may see a Kingfisher - needless to say, they were not about today.

We walked on to where the RSPB are making a new path, but we decided to stick to the old route and walked to the new Bob Dickens hide, a metal, vandal-proof hide situated on the wooded hillside overlooking the lake.  Mute Swans were here in numbers, at a rough count about 70 plus, Canada Geese and B H Gulls were also present in great numbers but the Great Crested Grebe made their usual stately appearance quite oblivious to their innumerable neighbours.

We walked along the embankment through the woodland with the lake on our left and the River Aire on our right.  Our next stop was the Village Bay Hide.  This overlooked the lake and across to the village of Fairburn.  Here the lake was quite green with algae.  Coots were most common here but at last the rain seemed to have eased off so hopefully we set off again to the end of the woodland and out onto the grassy banks of the river.  We walked as far as the three arched bridge over the river hoping to find a dry spot to eat our lunch, but no luck.  We made our way to the Cut Hide only to find a heap of black and charred timber - it had been burned down!

Back we went to the Village Bay Hide and as we dined we watched long lines of Grey Lag Geese, following the leader, through the narrow channels between the green patches of grass on the islands.  A Black Swan flew in as we watched and closer to us Long Tailed Tits flew back and forth for our entertainment.

By now the rain had stopped and with the “eye of faith” you could believe it was becoming brighter, and it did.

Ringlet butterflies began to appear.

By the time we reached the field centre everywhere was busy with families out for their Sunday treat and the giant dragonfly (made of wood) now had children climbing all over it and sliding down its long body.

The sky now showed patches of blue and the gusty wind kept the big clouds moving.  Back to the car we went and drove down to the lower end of the reserve and the “A” team were pleased to record the sighting of a Marsh Harrier and a Greenshank to their ever growing list.  As we set off for home it seemed that summer had finally arrived.


Members: 4  Flowers:  72  Birds: 55                                                           Reporter: J Smithson



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