For Martin Wright’s second walk of 2019 we went to Alney Island Nature Reserve – 200 acres with meadows grazed by rare-breed Gloucester Cattle barely half a mile from the Cathedral.
The sun shone brightly for us despite frost earlier and snow on the Malvern Hills in the distance. There are reed beds and pools of standing water, but also old broadleaf trees and newer plantings with well-drained areas where used to be the A40 causeway and railway sidings for the power station.
So wildlife habitats are more varied than we might have thought.
Regular visitors see tracks of Muntjac and Roe Deer. Despite seeing no actual deer ourselves we did see 20 or so of the Gloucester Cattle.
Almost immediately, in a stand of silver birch, we were watching a flock of Redwings feeding under trees when we found ourselves surrounded by an even larger flock of Longtailed Tits above us and in low bushes, with a couple of Tree-creepers right over our heads.
Crossing the Island and Telford’s bridge with several Cormorants flying overhead we visited the Hereford & Gloucester Canal at Over Basin. A Mute Swan accompanied by a juvenile was pushing through the ice with difficulty, leaving tracks of clear water showing where they had been since the morning. As well as an area for bee-hives H&GCT have created an otter-holt by the River Leadon. Apparently paw prints and the odd fish left half eaten on the canal side suggest that otters are using it.
We returned with a pair of Buzzards circling high and a hovering kestrel. Including a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Nuthatch we saw 22 different bird species in all – more than we had anticipated.
Congratulations are due to the City Council for their management of the Reserve. Some of us rounded off the session with coffee at Sainsbury’s looking over the Sharpness Canal.
On Wednesday February 13th we are meeting at the Cotswold Canals Trust Saul Junction Visitor Centre, hoping to see another good mix of countryside places and wildlife.
Anyone can come along and car-sharing can be arranged – see Cotswold Canals Trust News dated December 30th for details and a full list of Wildlife Watch visits.