My husband and son were on holiday yesterday and we visited Ladywalk Nature Reserve in the morning. Ladywalk is a West Midland Bird Club reserve in the Tame valley covering about 125 acres and comprising woodland and pools.
It was another very cold day with temperatures hovering around 0 degrees centigrade but the sun was shining and the sky was a brilliant blue. The whole reserve had been coated with hoar frost creating a winter wonderland reminiscent of Narnia and I wouldn't have been surprised to see the White Witch appearing in her sleigh!
There were several robins, dunnocks and blue tits on the feeders in the car park.
The undoubted highlight of the whole visit was the sighting of a male lesser spotted woodpecker (oh yes!!) in the trees along the footpath which leads from the car park to the reserve. My first sighting of this relatively scarce and elusive species since seeing one at Brandon Marsh several years ago.
We had good views of a handsome male bullfinch and there were lots of coots and mallard on the River Tame and several wrens foraging in the brambles (good to see these tiny birds surviving the cold weather).
I thought the hoar frost on this shrub resembled spring-time blossom
Entering the Reserve
I spotted a muntjac deer in amongst these silver birches. Unfortunately, rather than taking a photo I tried to attract my son and husband's attention to the deer and I think the rather dramatic waving of my hands frightened the deer and it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. A flock of long-tailed tits passed quickly through the trees foraging as they went.
Some rather large bracket fungi - possibly a Ganoderma species??
We spent half an hour or more in the hide overlooking many bird feeders and saw great spotted woodpecker, blue and great tits, robins, dunnocks, greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, blackbirds and reed buntings. I was exceedingly jealous that my husband who had arrived at the hide a good ten minutes before me (I had lagged behind to take fungi photos) had already seen a brambling which sadly failed to return after I''d reached the hide! No sign of the usual water rail which in past years has appeared near the feeding stations.
View from hide with feeders in the foreground and frozen pools in the background.
I was surprised not to see any redwings or fieldfares (we often visit this reserve in December and there are usually large flocks about) but they could well have been foraging in other areas of the reserve.
Up on Swallow Heights
5 hours ago