Special birds drawing visitors to special nature reserve

Mike Vickers

During the dreary, chilly days of early winter motivation to venture outside can be hard to find. Once an effort has been made however, the resulting experience can be most rewarding.

Currently the Idle Valley Nature Reserve is providing some of the most exciting winter birdwatching in the county and you do not have to get up early to experience it! An afternoon visit to the Tiln North area of the reserve will almost certainly provide wonderful views of short-eared owls as they hunt for small mammals in the fading light. There are currently four of these charismatic birds entertaining visitors. Whilst enjoying this spectacle, also look out for the ghostly barn owl which are likely to be active in this area around dusk but will hunt during the day if weather conditions made foraging difficult the previous night.

Whooper Swan in Flight - Mike Vickers

Whooper Swan - Mike Vickers

Nearby, a flock of whooper swans seem settled on Clayworth Common. These wild swans are mainly winter visitors from Iceland. They feed on the common during the day but roost overnight on one of the water bodies on the reserve to avoid predators. Their soft ’whooping’ contact calls are delightful and will almost certainly lift the spirits whatever the weather. Elsewhere on the nature reserve patient observation at Chainbridge Pit may reveal a bittern. This superbly camouflaged member of the heron family has become a regular winter visitor to the reserve but spotting them can be a challenge but all the more rewarding for that!

BITTERN

Tim Stenton

Once a very rare species in the county, great egret has become a regular feature of the reserve with up to three birds present at the moment.  This stately heron is an impressive sight as they stalk their prey in shallow water.  To experience this winter spectacle why not visit the Idle Valley Nature Reserve, a place where wonderful wildlife memories are made. You can make the most of your tip by dropping in at the centre, off North Road, for a spot of lunch or a coffee and cake to help fend off the cold. You can also pick up a map of the reserve from reception.

When visiting the reserve please keep to the official waymarked paths and public rights of way and if visiting the Tiln North area, we would advise accessing it via the Riverside Path from the south or along Chainbridge Lane from the west. If parking along Chainbridge Lane please park considerately as heavy lorries and other commercial traffic require regular access.

Visitors might also be interested to hear the views of respected researcher and campaign Ruth Tingay who will present ‘Who’s killing our wild bird and how are they getting away with it’ at the Idle Valley Centre on Friday December 7th.

Short Eared Owl Mike Vickers Idle Valley

Short Eared Owl at Idle Valley - Mike Vickers