At the end of 2008 there was a request for a ramble that would give more time for looking at our surroundings. In spring 2009 the first “Wildlife Wander” appeared on the programme.
Since then about 30 walks have been completed in different seasons, some over different routes and some at nature reserves.
They have proved popular, educational and very enjoyable for those who have attended the walks.
The walks have been jointly led by Mary Jones, Joan Thomas & Neil Lewis.
Thanks also to Tony Garner (Fungi) & Mike Stelfox (Photography).
|Carrion Crows||Early Purple Orchid||Candle snuff fungus|
|Magpies||Lesser Stitchwart||White coral spot fungus|
|Jay||Primroses||Yellow brain fungus|
|Ravens (2)||Lesser Celandine||Bracket (on birch)|
|Blackbirds||Greater Celandine||Clitocybe fragrans|
|Starlings||Common Buttercup||Many zoned polypore|
|Goldfinches||Goldilocks Buttercup||Coprinus plicatilis|
|Greenfinches||Wood Anemone||Scarlet hood|
|Chiffchaff||Marsh Marigold||Tawny funnel cap|
|Willowwarbler||Wild Strawberry||Field blewit|
|Woodpigeon||Red Campion||Yellow wool cap|
|Collared Doves||Common Vetch||Giant puffball|
|Mallard Ducks||Ragged Robin||Blushing bracket|
|Dippers||Forget-me-not||Yellow wax cap|
|Kingfisher||Bird’sfoot Trefoil||Creidotus variablis|
|Blue Tits||Thyme Leaved Speedwell||Pale oyster|
|Great Tits||Herb Robert||Wiches Butter|
|Coal Tits||Water Crowfoot||King Alfred’s Cakes|
|House Sparrows||Yellow Rattle||Dryads Saddle|
|Dunnocks||Gorse||Collared Earth Star|
|Swallows||Wild Garlic||Birch Polypore|
|House Martins||Common Dog Violet||Common Ink Cap|
|Sand martins||Daisy||Egg Yoke Fungus|
|Buzzards (3)||Water Avens||Small Bleeding Bellcap|
The walks are nominally 5-6 miles walking distance over C grade or less degree of difficulty, through varying habitats. The significant difference is that a full day is taken to walk this – thus allowing plenty of time to stop and look around. Elevenses and lunchtime stops are taken as per a normal ramble.
The participants are encouraged to bring wildlife reference as appropriate for the time of year. That is for spring and summer -insects, butterfly and wildflower books. Autumn and Winter mostly Fungi, but Bird books all the year around. Binoculars are of course a useful item as are magnifying glasses.
As described in Mary’s item below – identification is not always straight forward. But this part of the enjoyment as the team gets excited about deciding what species of plant or fungi they are observing. The list above is a snapshot of some of the highlights in terms of species observed.
Walks on the Wild Side
Never did I think I’d be kneeling on a wet Welsh hillside in November drizzle exclaiming “ Look at that!” but a glistening scarlet hood is a mushroom worthy of close inspection. Sighting a weasel crossing the path on a chilly March recce was thrilling: needless to say it missed its cue on the June walk proper. However, an inspired whim to add an extra path to a little river rewarded that day’s group with the blue flash of a kingfisher and the bobbing of dippers feeding young beneath the footbridge. Now I know the difference between primrose, cowslip, oxlip and false oxlip because other people looked them up when we found all of them growing on a bank.
How come we see all these things on a ramble? In truth, we don’t, not with 20+ on the walk and 10 miles to tramp, but these walks are special. Known as a Wildlife Wander, it is a 5-6 mile walk that takes all day, currently there are 3 – 4 a year on our programme. The routes are planned to include a variety of habitats such as woods, water and rough grassland to allow for a good range of flora, fauna and fungi. The main focus in late spring is flowers, for autumn it’s fungi and in winter, birds and bare trees command our attention. The leaders, all enthusiasts but not experts, work as a team. Everyone is encouraged to bring field guides including vintage Ladybird and Observer books, binoculars or a hand lens so every participant can join in the identification debate- and they do! Whatever turns up can be investigated, be it a flock of birds that could have been swirling leaves or a plant leaf oozing yellow sap. Re-walking the same route in another season has proved popular.
It’s fun: we learn from each other and learn to look for things we’ve never even noticed before, then go on to glimpse them on any walk. Why not join us, or plan one for your group? Maybe find a huge dryad’s saddle, hear a curlew, smell a clump of violets. Take coffee with woodpeckers in a hide next to a bird feeding station, sprawl in a circle of mushrooms. Thanks to all fellow Wildlife Wanderers for good company and sharp eyes on our explorations.