Navigating through woodland on a grey day with no sunshine and with a map (provided by the visitor centre) that lacked detail is difficult – and yes we did get lost going round in a circle and having to be directed by some friendly golfers. After the group leader handed the map to John, there were no problems.
Although we could hear plenty of birdsong we struggled at times to find the birds and when we did the greyness of the day subdued their colours. Jays, a normally shy bird, were prolific and their pink colour and bright blue wing feathers were the one bright spot in the greyness. They were not quite so prolific as the squirrels that foraged and leapt through the trees, amusing us with their antics.
We came upon a dead tree trunk, still standing and containing numerous holes, a sort of ready-made bird hotel. One of the photographers amongst us took a photo and when portrayed on his computer screen found there was a squirrel’s head poking out from one of the holes.
Wood anemones grew in patches beside the muddy paths, and Prittle Brook that we walked beside for a time, had a good flow of water. There are seven woods in the area all linked by footpaths but they are spread out and we only covered Belfairs Park Wood and part of the Belfairs Nature Reserve. The area is important not only as a green space for the urban area but because it has several threatened native species present: the dormouse, heath fritillary butterfly and the song thrush. It also has the unusual wild service tree, which is an important indicator of ancient woodland.
The Belfairs Woodland Centre provides information and has a refreshment area and activities for children; being school holidays it was bustling, but we managed to find a table outside where it was warm enough to sit and enjoy our lunch.
Birds: Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Starling, Blue & Great Tits, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Crow, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker
Flowers: Gorse, Primrose, Wood Anemone, Ground Ivy, Blackthorn, Hazel Catkins, Groundsel, Pussy Willow
Other: Grey Squirrel, Bumble Bee
Next Meetings: 9th May Fingringhoe Wick Nature Reserve, 10.00 in the Visitor Centre.