OUTDOOR MEETING REPORTS
For Indoor Meeting Reports click the above Link.
WALKS AND FIELD TRIPS 2014
6th September . Aqualate - Brian and Pauline Jones
10 members met at the Parish Church in Forton near Newport on a pleasant warm day. They walked
across the ancient rush pastures and Esker deposits before entering the Aqualate Mere National
Reserve. Plant species noted included: ragged robin, marsh arrow grass, water violets and tubular
In dappled sunlight we walked through the wooded paths along the side of the Mere, although,
frustratingly, the water could not be seen because of the extensive reedbeds - in some places up to
We finally entered the bird hide at the Eastern end of the Mere to see the huge expanse of water and
the many water birds upon and around it. Because the hide was unoccupied we were able to take a
leisurely lunch whilst observing nature in comfort. The walk back took us down quiet lanes to the tiny
village of Sutton and then across the fields back to the church.
Fortunately, an exhibition and open day to commemorate WW1 was taking place in the church and we
were able to enjoy the splendid home-made cakes and tea on offer.
Birds identified on the walk included:
-Black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, common buzzard,
dunnock, goldfinch, great tit, greenfinch, grey heron, greater-spotted woodpecker, house martin,
house sparrow, jackdaw, jay, kestrel, linnet, magpie, pheasant, robin, rook, starling, swallow, wood
pigeon, wren, mallard, mute swan (c 200), little grebe, great-crested grebe, cormorant, Egyptian
goose, gadwall, teal, shell duck, moorhen, herring gull, sandwich tern, green woodpecker (heard);
probably an osprey seen in the far distance (an osprey was recorded on Aqualate at the time of the
24th August. Fens Pools, Dudley Leader: Paul Newton
9 members met on a fine morning at the car park for this walk. Fens Pools is a large area of old industrial workings
including quarries which have flooded and provide a feeder water source for the Stourbridge Canal.
It is one of the richest and most diverse nature reserves in the West Midlands.
Records for flowering plant species over the years have been very high. On this occasion, in late summer, we counted
127. These included Berula erecta, Hirschfeldia incana, Salix petandra and Bidens tripartita.
We were also fortunate to see a pair of Swans with four large Cygnets. A Great Crested Grebe, with her young, Lesser
Black - backed Gull calling and Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese were seen
In the Alder trees there were Sawfly larvae. Also seen were Common Sympetrum (red dragon fly), Speckled Woods and
a Peacock Butterfly. Many of us sampled the delicious crop of Blackberries along the foot path. An enjoyable walk
with good views.
26th July : Upper Lustone & Ludstone. Leaders : Alan & Stella Clowes
A total of twenty seven members set off at just after 10.30am on a bright, sunny and warm day.
Although birds were not in abundance we did see a group of Mistle Thrush, House Martins attending
nests, Swifts and a Buzzard in addition to many more common species.
Butterflies were in abundance near the field paths and included Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small
Skipper, Essex Skipper, Meadow Brown and Small White.
Flowers seen were: Hogweed (Heracleum spondylium), Creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) Great
hairy willow herb (Epilobium hirsutum), Spear thistle Cirsium vulgaris), Meadow sweet (Filipendula
ulmaria), Wall speedwell (Veronica arvensis), Wild carrot (Daucus carota), Small forget me not
(Mysotis arvensis) , Birds foot trefoil (Lotus pendunculatus), Burdock (Arctium sp), Nodding thistle
(Carduus nutans), Swine crest (Coronopus didymus), White bryony (Bryonia dioica), Fools parsley
(Aethusa cynapium), Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), Common poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Scarlet
pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), White campion (Silene alba), Perforate St Johns Wort (Hypericum
perforatum), Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis), Buckwheat (Fagopyrum), Goosefoot (Chenopodium sp), Field
pansy (Viola arvensis), Black horehound (Ballota nigra), Smooth sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), Prickly
Sow thistle (S. asper), Cut leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum
The group returned at 12.40pm having walked just under 3 miles.
Grafton Wood Field Trip
12th July Grafton Wood Leader :John Tilt
A group of 7 members met in the car park at Grafton Flyford. The warm sunshine was ideal for the
butterflies. John Tilt told us some background information about the wood, which was purchased in
1997 and has been managed for butterfly conservation by selective clearing and coppicing, mostly by
volunteers. We started off across a meadow where a couple of John`s volunteers with nets caught
examples of several species of butterfly. We were able to look closely at the butterflies and see their
identifying characteristics. The first was a Marbled White. We then entered the wood and very soon
saw the first of our "target species" : the Silver Washed Fritillary. We saw several of them and also the
White Admiral. In addition we saw Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Silver Y Moth, Essex Skipper,
Large Skipper, Brimstone, Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. We also saw a large number of
caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth feeding on their favoured food plant, the reportable weed, Common
Ragwort. The success of the butterfly population is dependent on the food plants which now abound.
Wood Betony and Hemp Agrimony are important nectar plants, as are Hairy St John`s Wort and
Perforate St John`s Wort. ( we had the lenses out looking for black dots on the sepals and petals) ,
Great Bird`s Foot Trefoil, Meadow Sweet and Musk Mallow. A couple of small ponds have
recently been dug and already we could see Water Boatmen and Great Diving Beetles, as well as a
wide range of dragonflies: Common Darter, 4 spot Chaser, Broad Bodied Chaser, Azure Damsel and
Banded Demoiselle. We all felt privileged to
have spent time with John, whose passion and understanding of butterflies we were able to share; and
also Mike, Martin and David who helped us see all we did. PK
5th July Brewood Leader : Pauline Keates.
At 10.30 a group of 16 members and one visitor assembled at Park lane car park, Chillington. The
weather was overcast, not the promised rain, and gradually improved during the day.
We started off across the `sheep field` to join the Staffordshire Way at Hyde Mill Lane. We continued
along the Staffs Way through a wet meadow characterised by a number of marsh plants: numerous
Marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre), Marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre), Marsh cudweed (Gnaphalium
uliginosa) Lesser spearwort (Ranunculus flammula) The flower of the day was a single Marsh orchid
[yet to be exactly identified]. As the day warmed up, we saw a number of butterflies: Meadow brown,
Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Skipper, Small tortoiseshell, and 6-spot Burnet moths. We crossed the main drive
to Chillington Hall and another field which had been closely cropped by sheep, to join Chillington
Street. This used to be the way to Chillington village which was all but destroyed because it spoilt the
view from the Hall. Now it is a muddy green lane lined with brambles and nettles and 3 species of
willow herb: Rose bay willow herb (Epilobium augustifolium), Broad leaved willow herb (E. montanum),
and Great Hairy willow herb (E. hirsutum). We rejoined Park Lane and then followed the edges of 2
arable fields down to Bridge 7of the Shropshire Union Canal where we had lunch. Birds that were seen
and heard were Yellow hammers, Buzzards, Dunnocks, Song thrush and a family of Mallard on the
canal. The final leg of our walk took us along the tow path of the canal. Here we saw a spectacular
bank of bush vetch (Vicia cracca), also Meadow vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), Marsh woundwort
(Stachys palustris) and Field scabious (Knautis arvensis)
17 May Pattingham Leaders : Mair and Robin Stuttard
On May 17th eight of us gathered at Pattingham for a walk to Patshull. Whilst walking
over to the estate we had the opportunity to compare Common storks bill and Doves foot
cranesbill that were growing profusely in a field left for grazing. Along the edge of
the estate there were sheets of bluebells in the open woodland and plenty of birdsong :
blackcap, garden warbler, chiffchaff, willow warbler as well as hearing one or more
cuckoos several times. Entering the estate from the north we encountered a strange
bramble-like plant with no thorns and large palmate leaves with big white flowers.
This was Thimbleberry which must have been introduced. We said hello to the rare New
Zealand pigs kept in an enclosure. Because it was a hot day they were keeping out of
the sun in their little shed. We passed the weigh bridge cottage which still has the
weigh bridge in the front garden, nicely painted.
We walked to the church which was the family church for the Dartmouth family, built
about 1730. Here we had lunch seated on the steps at the entrance to the church. A
look around the churchyard produced meadow saxifrage and bugle. After lunch we walked
on towards the lake and were able to see the old boathouse, now somewhat dilapidated.
There were some Canada goose families as well as Great crested grebe carrying the young
on their back.
The return to Pattingham took us close to the scout camp area before bringing us
through the woodland where many trees had been felled, just leaving good looking
standard trees to grow on. The smell of the sawn timber was very pleasant at the end
of a hot day. The hedgerow plants were particularly good with the frothy flowers of
cow parsley being commented on.
22nd June. Motte Meadows Flower walk. Leader : Sheila Moore
10 members and 2 visitors met at Wheaton Aston School on a beautiful sunny day. The leader told the group about the
history of the meadows and that it is famous for the Fritillaries that flower in April. Photographs of 4 of the orchids that
grow there were shown and other rare flowers such as Meadow thistle [Cirsium dissectum] and Sawwort, [Serratula
tinctoria] to look out, for were mentioned. We walked beside the playing fields and down the lane which leads to the
National Nature reserve, which is a good example of a damp lowland hay meadow. The hay is cut in July and is fodder
for the Wolverhampton Police horses. Looking over the gate we could
see a large Black Poplar [Populus nigra subsp betuifolia] with its characteristic spreading branches. There are several of
these trees on the reserve, but they are all male so cannot make seed to spread. We walked through the first meadow
and saw that many of the orchids had gone over, which was disappointing, but there was lots of Great burnet
[Sanguisorba officinalis], Meadow buttercups [Ranunculus acris] and Meadowsweet [Filipendula ulmaria]. In the next
field which was a lovely sight, we found some lovely patches of the Meadow thistle and examined the leaves and
flowers of the Sawwort. A few of the Southern marsh orchids were found but were not at their best. Carex paniculata
and Wood dock [Rumex sanguineus] were seen by a small pool and Marsh arrow grass [Triglochin palustris] was found
nearby. Two Yellow hammers were seen and a Lapwing. The sun
brought out some butterflies including Speckled wood, Meadow brown and Brimstone.
We stopped for a coffee break in a hay field which had been mown for the Hay festival that was held the day before.
We continued along Broadholes lane where we spotted False fox sedge [Carex otrubae] and Hairy tare [ Vicia hirta]
and looked at the hairy seed pods with 2 seeds inside. We completed the circular walk back to the school.
10th May. Gospel End and Penn Common. Leader : Andrew Milligan
The forecast for the whole weekend was terrible - prolonged, heavy rain! I had quite expected to find no-one at the
meeting place and so it was an especial pleasure to find 8 members had arrived for the morning field trip. It so
happened that, apart from one brief shower, the rain held off and even the sun made an appearance!
We started in a beautiful large meadow full of Bulbous buttercups [Ranunculus bulbosus] and Meadow buttercups
[Ranunculus acris]interspersed with Sticky mouse-ear [Cerastium glomeratum], Pignut [Conopodium majus] and Red clover [Trifolium pratense]. From there we made our way through the Seven cornfields noting aong other plants
Silverweed [Potentilla anserina] and Thyme-leaved Speedwell [Veronica serpyllifolia]. At our coffee break in the small wood we were serenaded by the Colton Hills School brass band - an unexpected delight. We then
made our way across the golf course, pausing to read the three information panels describing the area during the Middle ages , in the 19th Century and during the Second World war.. At the duck pond we admired the stand of Yellow flag irises [Iris pseudocorus] and continued across the gold course, noting the Cowslips [Primula veris] by the old brewery, eventually to reach the car park at the Summerhouse Inn. Birds were not much in evidence but we did hear Willow warbler [Phylloscopus trochilus]. Great spotted Woodpecker [Dendrocopus major] and Whitethroat [Sylvia communis].
Finally all nine of us went for lunch in the inn to round off a most enjoyable and successful field trip. And the forecast rain? It arrived while we were having lunch!
3rd May Chillington Hall . Leader : Peter Bache
On a glorious early summer's day a party of 12 members were given a private tour of
Chillington Park and out-buildings by Peter Bache, the bird expert and friend of John Gifford.
We started from the wood yard and were taken to see the old stables, pig pens and dove cot
in the magnificent stable yard. We were then shown the carp pen and ice house before
strolling beside the "canal" down to the lake which we circumnavigated through the dappled
shade of ancient woodlands and glades.
On route, Margaret Harper and Peter pointed out: chiffchaffs, blackcaps, a whitethroat, blue
and great tits, chaffinch, greenfinch, wrens, tree creeper, raven and crows. On the lake were
mallards, tufted ducks, coots, great crested grebes, swans with one on a nest. A reed warbler
was singing, and on a grassy bank we saw Canada geese and a pair had goslings. Grey lag
geese were there too and one swallow.
We saw the following butterflies: orange tips, speckled woods, a peacock, small tortoiseshell,
brimstone and some small whites.
Sheila Moore was able to identify a wide variety of plants including: Marsh thistle, Yellow
pimpernel, Common vetch, Wood sorrel, Cuckoo flower and Three veined sandwort.
In all it was a naturalists' treat and finished with an inspection of Peter's immaculate allotment
and greenhouse within the ancient walled garden.
27th April. Much Wenlock - Ken and Marj Horton
16 members met at Rossmore, Kingswood Close, Much Wenlock, the home of leaders Marj
and Ken Horton. They were joined by Reg Dixon, local birdwatcher and Member of the
Shropshire Peregrine Society. The weather was overcast.
The walk took us past the Church and down the lane to the Priory. We then walked towards
the sewage works where we had good views of a song thrush. We studied the birds on the
sewage site and then walked down the path to Downsmill.
Our walk took us across the fields to Bradley's Farm and then along the old railway line to the
Windmill Hill in Much Wenlock.
After lunch we walked to Homer Hill and then back to Much Wenlock. We were less than 3
minutes away from Kingswood Close when a cloud burst soaked us all. 16 very wet members
then had tea and cakes in the conservatory at the home of our leaders. 37 birds were
recorded as detailed below:
- Blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, carrion crow, chiff chaff, common buzzard, dunnock,
goldcrest, goldfinch, great tit, greenfinch, grey wagtail, greater spotted woodpecker,
house martin, jackdaw, kestrel, long-tailed tit, pheasant, pied wagtail, robin, skylark,
song thrush, starling, whitethroat, swallow, wood pigeon, wren, yellow hammer, reed
bunting, lesser black-backed gull, tufted duck, mallard, mute swan, Canada geese,
4th January. Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve. Leader : Andrew Milligan
2014 dawned with gales and heavy rain which brought down trees and power lines and also caused terrible floods. It was no surprise, therefore, when I received several phone calls from members enquiring whether the field trip was still on. It was and it remained dry though parts of the canal towpath and elsewhere were very muddy and there were several large puddles. Along the railway line several trees had been blown down and we were astonished to see how much work had been done to shore up the canal bank.
What can be reported is that as well as Mallard [Anas platyrhynchos] and Moorhen [Gallinula chloropus] we also saw Little Grebe [Tachybaptus rufficollis] and Jay [Garrulus glandarius]. ramble - the first meeting of our Society's 120th year,
WALKS AND FIELD TRIPS 2013
27th December Kinver Leader : Geoff Lambert
Recent years had seen a decline in the number of people out on the Rindleford/High Rock walk. I consulted various members of both Wulfrun walkers and South Staffs Nats with a view to changing the walk so with no opposition I decided on Kinver as a suitable area.
On a beautiful sunny day, 16 of us set off from the village for a 7 mile walk heading to the 'edge', with superb views in all directions. From the top we walked along the Staffordshire way to find an additional member, who had missed the start and decided to do her own walk. Imagine the surprise to all of us in stumbling across her on route. With numbers swelled to 17 we enjoyed the changing views the walk offered
from N.T. woodland to open farmland.
On our way back to the village we passed the Holy Austin Rock houses and tea room [closed until March], which have proved to be popular with tourists
especially since the National Trust restored them.
One more ascent from here to get back to our cars and then for some, a visit to one of the local hostelries to round off a very enjoyable day.
October 26th Trysull : Leaders Anthony and Angela Cain
Eight members set off on a brisk Autumn day from the car park at Trysull Village Hall. The
five mile walk began with a short road walk along to a field crossing which led down into
the centre of Trysull. As we crossed the field we were able to hear a Sky Lark.
A second grass field was crossed leading to an arable field. Here we had a clear view of a
Kestrel walking and resting on the ploughed earth. Along the field margins we observed
Storksbill, Black nightshade and Green Alkanet.
The walk then proceeded along a lane for a short distance passing a bus shelter. Here we
had a wonderful opportunity to watch a Garden Spider spinning its web. The sun
highlighted the web against the dark wood of the shelter and allowed us to watch the spider
at work in great detail.
We soon followed a public footpath at the rear of some gardens. As we passed through a
wooden gateway we saw a group of ten Harlequin Ladybirds and a Ladybird Larva gathering
in the sunshine. We also observed a Small Copper butterfly and a Pied Wagtail in this
We stopped for coffee in Post Office Lane and noticed Mouse-ear Hawkweed in flower. As
we walked on past a deserted chicken farm we observed White campion and Blue and Pink
Chicory also still in flower.
As we climbed up onto Tinkers Castle Ridge we saw and heard a Buzzard before we stopped
for a windy lunch break. We picnicked among a large collection of oak leaves with
Spangled Galls. As we left the picnic spot we were surprised to see a Bush Cricket which is
usually nocturnal and not readily seen on a tree trunk.
We noted 20 Black Headed Gulls and 5 Lesser Black Back Gulls as we crossed the final
arable fields and returned to the cars. We were all pleased that the walk had remained dry
and despite the heavy rain of previous days the footpath had been easy to navigate and
resulted in a most enjoyable walk.
12th October ; Kinver Leaders Mair and Robin Stuttard
Fourteen members gathered for the walk that Enid Lavender was due to lead but was unable to.
Out of Kinver we joined the canal towpath and headed for Stewpony. The autumn colours on the trees were a show and the slight rain soon ceased. The plants were interesting, good clumps of Common Comfrey and just the odd clump of Russian Comfrey. In places there were vigorous Greater Chickweed scrambling through the canal side vegetation. At the lock at Stewpony we stopped for lunch and watched narrow boats negotiating the lock.
We then crossed the road and headed for the Hyde, first across a field and then through woodland with very tall stands of Himalayan Balsam. We then progressed along the river through horse paddocks and a training area where we could see ourselves reflected in a giant mirror. On nearing Kinver near the playing field there were some interesting trees including Swedish Whitebeam and Grey Alder with a magnificent Crab Apple with copious bright yellow fruit. The exercise machines at the corner of the playing fields were experimented with by several members with amusing results.
21st September Stourport Leaders: Wenda Jane and Josette Pearn
After sorting our unexpectedly free parking, 13 of us set off on a 4 mile nature walk on the south
side of Stourport. The nature turned out to be mostly plants - almost 80 different varieties, with
Himalayan balsam and blackberries abounding ! Robin, Margaret and Pauline were of great help in
identifying the less well-known, which were the majority for most of us. The terrain was varied,
though basically sandy. Along our first lane, we had the fruits of lords and ladies almost hidden amongst the taller growth; then came woundwort, common hemp nettle and nipplewort. Joining a track, we came across masses of small balsam with pods that spring open, herb bennet with its pretty seed heads, black horehound ( not the best of perfumes !) and a garden escape of yellow archangel. A short walk along an estate pavement, we found lesser swine cress that really smelled of cress, redshank, the feathery leaves of storksbill, autumn hawkbit, none of the last 3 linked with birds, knotgrass with minute flowers , catsear and knotgrass with lanceolate leaves. Out on to the grassy common, with still plenty to see: white and yellow wild radish, ribwort plantain, wild carrot with its hollow fruit heads, dove's foot cranesbill ( masses in my garden !), Hieraceum ( Robin didn't know which kind !!!), yarrow, perforated and imperforated St. John's wort, mugwort, fox and cubs ( also known as miners' lamp or Grim the collier ], , white campion and prickly sow thistle. A small copper butterfly delighted some of us of us as did robin pincushion galls and the fungus puff balls. Even a radio-controlled plane flew over us. At last, our lunch stop, overlooking one of the
Larford lakes, which held the interest of many a fisherman and a few cormorants. Robin continued
his good work and found hedge bedstraw, black medick, dwarf mallow, lesser hawkbit with forked
hairs only seen through his magnifier, and a row of tiny fungi.
After our picnic, we walked across land that had been pure sand earlier in the summer but is now
covered in plants not noted in the morning: burdock, lots of scarlet pimpernel, self heal, hops,
centaury, creeping buttercup, angelica, HUGE comfrey, white bryony, wood speedwell, red bartsia,
Canadian fleabane, mouse-eared hawkweed with its hairy leaves, pellitory of the wall and great
chickweed with its hanging fruits A big bank of rabbit holes took us by surprise, and a woodpecker
called. The historical/geological interest was the Redstone Rock caves, leading away from the riverside and
dating back to the C12th as a hermitage. In the C16th they lodged 500 men and a chapel. The rock
is of wildmoor sandstone with occasional breccia, and the greenish white streaks are thought to be
due to organic matter. We saw attractive orange balsam there. Stourport, itself, arose due to the Staffs. Worcs. canal being built up to the Trent Mersey canal. Coal, brass and iron were the main commodities transported from Birmingham and the Black Country.
Another mile, along the line of the river we walked to get back to our cars, tired, but we had
enjoyed the company and interest.
7th September . Smestow Local NR. Leader : Andrew Milligan
The Smestow Valley Local NR, which stretches from Tettenhall via Compton to Wightwick and from the canal and up to and including the disused railway line, is perhaps not as well known as it should be. Those who visit for the first time are always surprised that such an extensive rural area exists so close to the city centre. It is certainly worth exploring at every season. Eleven members met at Compton as summer gently merged into autumn for a 4 mile leisurely walk over the open ground along the canal and the old railway line. We were first of all interested to observe the autumn fruits [an oak tree laden with acorns and Guelder rose [Viburnum opulus] with masses of shiny red berries]. From a natural history point of view the canal side was the most productive with a wide range of plants including the colourful Orange balsam [Impatiens capensis]. This stretch of the canal from Tettenhall to Compton is always attractive and plants noted included Figwort [Scrophularia nodosa], Gipsywort [Lycopus europaeus], Marsh woundwort [Stachys palustris] and Hemp agrimony [Eupatorium cannabium] whilst the prolific Purple loosestrife [Lythrum salicaria] added extra splashes of colour. Birds were not much in evidence but we were pleased to note Moorhen [Gallinula chloropus] including two juveniles and a Grey wagtail [Motacilla cinerea] as well as the ubiquitous Mallard. A lone Speckled wood [Pararge aegeria] reminded us that this summer had seen an explosion of butterflies, though sadly not today! We had been blessed with a lovely sunny and dry morning just as we had been in June last year on our first visit to the reserve. Will the weather be so kind to us on our next visit in January in the middle of winter? Come along and find out!
25th August Sandwell Valley Country Park Leader Paul Newton
8 members met on a dry, fairly sunny day at the Forge Mill Farm car park. In the morning we walked
around Swan Pool and visited the site of the Medlar bush. We found the bush but unfortunately no
fruits were present to confirm. In the afternoon we walked around the main lake and bird reserve.
We recorded 117 species on this visit. Securigera varia , [Crown vetch] was seen near the bird
observatory where it has been for many years. We also found Rosa virginiana [Virginian rose] -
presumably spread from previous planting in the area.
17th August Bobbington : Leaders Anthony and Angela Cain
With heavy rain forecast we were very pleased to meet with 13 members on the car park of
the Red Lion Bobbington. While members prepared for the walk we observed Prickly
Lettuce(Lactuca serriola) Black Medick (Medicago lupulina) and Flattened Meadow-grass
(Poa compressa) around the edges of the car park.
The four and a quarter mile walk began with a short road walk along to the Post Office
where we turned onto an enclosed grassy pathway which led to a large oat field. Along this
path we noted spangle galls on oak leaves. In the hedgerow we saw Black bryony (Tamus
communis ) and Dogwood ( Cornus sanguinea).
Our walk took us through the centre of the oat field and then along the field edges of further
arable fields. At the edge of the first barley field we observed Fool's Parsley( Aethusa
cynapium), this is a flat-leaved hairless umbellifer; it was identified by the long bracteoles
hanging down from beneath the flowers. We were fortunate to spot a Yellow Hammer and a
Greater Spotted Woodpecker around Broadfields Farm. Just past the farm buildings we
passed a large strip of Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Here we noted a most
attractive large stand of Chicory (Cichorium intybus). We also recorded Field Woundwort
(Stachys arvensis), now a very uncommon arable weed, with only 30 records in the new
Staffordshire Flora, mainly from gardens.
We had a quick break for coffee then continued along field edges until we stopped for a
very pleasant lunch break at the far end of a grassy field. Here we observed a Hobby in
flight. Keeping our eyes on the gathering clouds, we noted a Painted Lady butterfly as we
followed a farm track and the road towards Six Ashes. As we entered woodland we saw
heavy rain but fortunately it passed over within five minutes and remained dry for the rest
of the walk. Our path took us through further arable fields and a short stretch of road
walking before skirting around a large arable field which was suffering from severe wind
damage. It was a surprise to find a stand of Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica) on
a heap of soil in a field with Opium Poppy( Papaver somniferum) and Sun-spurge
We were soon back at the Red Lion where some members enjoyed a refreshing drink to
complete a most enjoyable day.
13th July. Wom Brook. Leader : Anita Ferguson.
A very hot sunny day, understandably perhaps the reason why only three people assembled at the start and also why so few insects were on the wing! From the start at Rushford bridge to our finish on the Poolhouse section, Ringlets were the most abundant butterflies of the 7 species seen. The few active bee species were Honeybee, Common Carder and Tree bumblebees. The surprise highlight was a close view of 2 young Water voles feeding and swimming, oblivious of our presence for several minutes; a magical ending to our uncomfortably hot walk!
Naturalists' holiday to Brecon Beacons 26th - 29th June 2014
organised by Brian Jones
Witch's Pool Pwll y Wrath
A party of 19 members enjoyed three days of walking, observing nature and sharing friendship
based at the HF Holidays country house hotel on the outskirts of Brecon.
In one sense, the holiday was by way of an experiment. We seemed to have exhausted the supply of
members willing to organise a holiday themselves. The thought was that HF Holidays might take
the pain away by providing everything: accommodation and meals, walks and leaders. It didn't
really work out like that, but it was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Brecon Beacons National Park is about 42 miles wide and covers an area of 520 square miles
between mid and South Wales. Pen-y-Fan is the highest peak at 886m.
We stayed at Nythfa House, which is a charming Country House on the edge of Brecon. In this
quiet setting you can relax in the attractive gardens or the conservatory with its grapevine. There
are 26 en-suite bedrooms in the main house and in garden annexes. Facilities include a comfortable
lounge, bar, dance room and an indoor swimming pool. We met on the terrace in bright sunshine
for a welcoming tea party!
It became clear during the recce visit, that the HF walks were either too strenuous for us or too
pedestrian and that we would have had to join other residents who typically wanted serious exercise
and would not be happy to tarry awhile to look closely at nature. Their walks also involved waiting
for coach transport to the start and pick up at the finish at pre-booked times.
Instead, the leader identified three different walks to suit naturalists. Each was over a completely
different terrain - a nature reserve in a steep-sided valley, a hillside of farm land by the canal and
river and a reservoir surrounded by forests. It is worth mentioning here that the average age of our
party was 75! However, they proved very hardy and fit in the face of adversity!
The Thursday morning took us to Pwll y Wrach Nature Reserve near Talgarth, which is managed by
Brecknock Wildlife Trust. It consists of 171/2 hectares of beautiful ancient forest in a ravine
following the River Enig. The reserve includes spectacular waterfalls and a "witch's pool".
There were steep narrow muddy paths and we almost "lost" one member of our party who lost her
footing and slide 12 ft down the steep bank towards the water. Fortunately she recovered quickly
and insisted on carrying on undeterred!
Emerging at the top of the reserve, we were lucky enough to be allowed by the owner of a splendid
"Summer lodge" to use his facilities for our lunch break - he had previously pointed out a dippers
nest, a duck's nest with eggs and some otter spraint by the stream through his land. We then
walked through lanes and field tracks back down into Talgarth Mill Cafe (of TV fame) where most
of us enjoyed tea and buns. The evening was spent with convivial company at Nythfa House
playing games after a good dinner.
Next day saw us start our walk at Pencelli on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
The only climb of the day was at the beginning up through fields to the tree line. Unfortunately,
because of a missed turning up a hidden path, the climb was much further than intended. However,
after briefly retracing our steps, we found it and emerged to relax over a leisurely lunch on the bank
with fine views over the Usk valley. The return walk followed the Taff Trail Tow Path along the
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. For some, the highlight of the Friday evening was country
dancing in the ballroom at Nythfa House!
On the Saturday, most of the party visited Talybont Reservoir whilst others headed off further
West or back home. We walked along a quiet lane along the lake side stopping at a convenient bird
hide and then crossed the valley and climbed up through forest paths around the reservoir with fine
views throughout. So what was the conclusion of the experiment? The days of traditional Naturalists holidays are
probably over - we are just getting too old and no one wants the responsibility of being the
organiser! HF Holidays is only a way forward if we submit to their way of doing it and join in with
other types of walkers with different agendas. The only other way is for small groups of our own members to informally organise holidays of their own and invite friends to make their own bookings and come along.
Group by Monmouthshire and Brecon Cana
15th June 2013. Newport. Leaders : Geoff and Barbara Prosser
7 members set off on the field visit at 10.30 from Water Lane car park Newport and
followed disused Newport Canal West out of the town. It was in 1820 that it was
decided to link the Shrewsbury canal and smaller canals running through the area
now known as Telford with the rest of the network.So the Newport canal was built
and ran from Wappenshall on the Shrewsbury canal to Norbury to join the
Shropshire canal. The Shrewsbury canal was abandoned in 1944 and most of the
local canal network has been lost. Newport is now the only place where a decent
section of canal is in water.
Observed alongside the canal a Pen female swan and Cob male swan, with the Pen
preparing to defend her brood of seven cygnets to the death, judging from her
attitude to us as we passed warily by.
Flag Iris and Water Lilies decorated the canal with Cow Parsley threatening to
engulf the towpath. On two occasions Mallard ducklings scurried off to the other
side of the canal as we passed, beautiful creatures.
Lots of healthy looking cattle spread out across the fields of Windy Meadows Farm
seemed oblivious to us, no wonder with their heads mostly finding feed and grazing.
Having crossed a large field of tiny Maize shoots we found time to have a coffee
break in the grounds of Edgmond Church.
On the route to Longford Chapel now a private house, Red and White Campion and
Oxeye Daisy's were prevalent and above the chapel Buzzards and House Martins
could be seen. Having negotiated 600 metres of Longford Road our minds were set
on Aston Hill and a picnic with the hope the rain, which looked likely would stay
away and it did.
Making our way through Aston Hill covert, Black cap was heard so too was Chiff
Chaff and Chaffinch, but we did see a Wren and a baby Blackbird. We were at the
summit now and parked ourselves in the lee of the hill to get a little protection from
the wind. Having eaten we descended Aston Hill and crossed the A518 to enter a
lengthy covert that runs alongside a former railway line. The route takes us into the
village of Church Aston. Leaving Church Aston it's just a short distance to the High
Street of Newport, a chance to window shop maybe, and a chance to observe the
human creature that appear to come in all shapes and sizes. A good five to six
hundred metres walk takes us back to Water lane and the cars.
There's little doubt the reasonable weather made the day a pleasant experience.
9th June. Barnfield Sandbeds and Brewood. Leader : Sheila Moore
10 members met in Brewood on a sunny day. We made our way to the Sandbeds which is a local nature reserve in an
old sandpit that has been developed by the council. Entrance archways and information boards were explained and
then we had a look at the meadow. Lady's mantle [ Alchemilla mollis] has spread from garden throw outs in this area
which has very poor soil. Volunteers dug some out and planted plug plants, but now there is no sign of them as the
rabbits had a feast! Stonecrop, Wild strawberry and Teasels were seen in this area. A Peacock and an orange tip
butterfly were seen. We walked on to the area which has been treated to get rid of the Japanese Knotweed which is a
pest. A Blackcap was seen near here. At the far end of the quarry an Owl box and the badger sets were pointed out and
then we walked on to the pool, Swan Lake! A ditch had been dug around the area and a liner is going to be put in.
Celery leaved buttercup was seen in the pond and Scarlet pimpernel was seen nearby. We looked to see if Bee orchids
were around the area where last seen but no luck. We left the reserve
and walked across the fields towards the canal. Floating sweet grass and Orange foxtail grass were seen by the pond in
the field. We walked along the canal and saw several ducklings. Hemlock water dropwort and Gipsywort were at the
edge of the canal. We returned by the Churchyard where Fox and cubs made a splash of orange.
We found 10 new records of plants for the Flora.
8th June. Baggeridge Leader :Andrew Milligan
Two years ago at this time I had organised a field trip to Baggeridge to see the orchids and so it seemed a good idea to
repeat this. No-one could have foreseen that the winter of 2012-2013 would be long and that the spring would be the
coldest for about 50 years. Consequently the flowers would be 4 or 5 weeks later than usual!
However on a lovely sunny morning 18 people [17 members and 1 possible new member] set off over the fields to
Baggeridge. Immediately the sides of the path were a riot of colour - yellow, white and blue flowers ,Meadow and
Creeping buttercup [Ranunculus acris and repens], Cow parsley and Greater Stitchwort [Anthriscus sylvestris and
Stellaria holostea], Germander Speedwell and Evergreen Alkanet [Veronica chamaedrys and Pentaglottis sempervirens]
for example. Later we were impressed by the fields covered in buttercups so much more attractive than the harsh
yellow of rapeseed which is now so common. At the far end of the Country Park we climbed up into the woods of Lydiates Hill to be impressedby the swathes of Wild Garlic [Allium ursinum] amongst which were some bluebells [Hyacinthoides non-scripta] could still be seen Excitement was caused by the locally uncommon Narrow leaved bittercress [ Cardamine impatiens]. In all over 100 plants were recorded for the Flora. As for the orchids in the marshy area, we spotted one then many more among the Buttercups and Red clover [Trifolium pratense] where Ragged robin [Silene flos- cuculi] was also seen. The orchids could beEarly purple and Marsh orchids but are difficult to identify exactly. The sun had brought out the
butterflies, Green-veined white,[Pieris napi], Small white [Pieris rapae] , Brimstone [Gonepteryx rhamni] and Peacock
[Nymphalis io] were seen. Birds included Canada Geese with 7 goslings [Branta Canadensis], Reed bunting [Embriza
schoeniclus] and Pied wagtail [Motacilla alba]. Finally the prospective member enjoyed the day so much that she
joined. A perfect SSNS field trip.
1st June. Upper Arley and Severn Valley. Leaders: Alan and Stella Clowes
Ten members set off at 10.30am to cover the walk of approx. 3 miles. In fine
warm weather we were quickly enjoying looking at plants and birds. Along the
river, Swifts and House Martins were particularly active. Among other bird life
were Pied Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black Cap and Mandarin Duck.
All the group were delighted at the glorious spectacle of colour created by Wild
Garlic, Cow Parsley, Hawthorn Blossom, Large Bittercress, Germander Speedwell
and many more. The pleasure was helped by our late spring which had seen
plants held back by 2 to 4 weeks. Our route took
us out of the valley onto much higher ground where general views were superb.
All returned safely at 1.00pm having enjoyed a lovely walk and good company.
18th May. Pattingham. Leader R Stuttard
On 18th May nine people gathered at Pattingham Village Hall for a gentle walk to look at plants around Pattingham. We progressed along the edge of the field to the scarp slope, which had been left ungrazed by the farmer at our request. We noted the special planting of cowslips by the farmer who has also planted them on the scarp slope by the bench. There were good stands of field pansy along the unplanted strip around the field. Before turning onto the scarp slope we found plenty of shining cranesbill which could be a garden escape. There was a small clump of early forget-me-not on the steep sandstone slope. The scarp slope proved more interesting with the mouse-eared hawkweed just starting to flower and quite a lot of common parsley piert and changing forget-me-not. Storksbill and dovesfoot and cut-leaved cranesbill were evident but the birdsfoot and wall speedwell were more difficult to find. The bulbous buttercup was quite prolific which is good because it soon disappears when the cattle come in to graze. The annual knawel and sand spurrey which are normally found were not yet evident.
We continued across the scarp slope towards the ford watching the bull in the field very carefully. It took no notice! We were very lucky to see a hobby flash over. At the ford there was brooklime in bud, greater celandine and native yellow archangel. The numerous shining cranesbill in the hedgerow well away from habitation showed it was not a garden escape. After walking around to Toad's nest we were fortunate to refind just two flowering shoots of moschatel that had been found on the recce. The fishing pool bank that had produced very numerous bee orchids two years ago had only five leaf rosettes with no flowering spikes yet. On the return to Pattingham along Moor Lane the garden escape of yellow archangel was very numerous and an interesting white forget-me-not was seen. We saw the llamas that have been kept here for many years and returned to Pattingham slightly weary after an interesting walk.
27th April - Chillington Led by P Bache and C McShane
This was a vintage naturalists' outing attended by 21 members and guests! Not only were we
led by two experts, Peter Bache and Colin McShane, but several of our own experts were
present also: Margaret Harper and Terry Taylor, Ken and Marj Horton, Sheila Moore, Robin
Stuttard and Margaret Barr to name but a few!
Peter led us from the Codsall Wood lodge gates down and round the lake, stopping to point
out nests and birds whilst others spotted flora and fauna. The primroses, wood sorrel and
wood anemones were plentiful and Golden saxifrage and Common dog violets were seen too.
Bog myrtle and Skunk cabbage were the more unusual plants we saw, introduced and still
persisting. The rhododendrons have spread in many places and the understory plants cannot
grow under them. Many trees were still not in flower due to the late season. Danish scurvy
grass was spotted beside the motorway that we crossed. It has spread from the coast on
Birds seen or heard: mistle thrush, buzzard, swan, coots, mallard, tufted ducks, swallows,
house martins, swift, greylag goose, Canada geese, great crested grebe, lesser black-backed
gulls, nuthatch, garden warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff, chaffinch, robin, wren, blue and great tits,
reed warblers, common sandpipers. In addition two tawny owl nests were pointed out and
some heard a lesser spotted woodpecker.
The weather stayed fine and the company was excellent.
20th April 2013. Ironbridge Coalbrookdale. Leader : M C Manuel
A group of eight met at the Station Hotel car park at 10.30am. Amazingly the day was sunny and
warm because we had suffered and continued to suffer from one of the coldest Springs since records began
in 1910. From my amateur observations Spring appeared to be around five weeks late, trees bare, birds
hardly nesting while snowdrops & hellebores had been flourishing for months. A contrast to last year when
during the final weeks of March we had enjoyed a mini Summer where trees and hedgerows were swathed in
blossom, birds and bees were in their element and a number of people were in their shirt sleeves.
Passing over the Iron Bridge we strolled towards Coalbrookdale enjoying the view over the river
where we watched a lone swan and some mallards. We crossed the road and walked up Strethill which
eventually took us over a railway track that is still used to take fuel to the Power Station. Two other lines
that once were essential to Ironbridge have now morphed into The Silken Way and the Severn Valley Way!
We passed through a wooded area including a small Beech Wood and saw and heard a number of
birds including the Chiffchaff and Blackcap. We then came out into the open and walked up an incline plain
where we saw views of The Long Mynd , The Lawley , Caer Caradoc and the Power Station. The Power
Station appeared both imposing and strangely beautiful with Benthall Edge as its backdrop. Large birds of
prey use it as a lookout site and the swallows and house martins nest there. We carefully walked along a
steep sided dingle and saw a few wood anemones, a number of blue and a few white violets and an abundance
of fresh green leaves of the wild garlic but not a sign of their flower. After picnicking in the grounds of the
Museum of Iron where the Old Furnace sits, we then walked around the pool that once powered this furnace.
This watercourse and others in that area are now managed to provide the right conditions for wild life without
destroying their historical importance. Coots, moorhens and the occasional kingfisher can be seen there. We
walked along the Rope Walk then through the 18th Century Sunnyside Deer Park which is still full of many
ancient trees, but deer no longer dwell there.
The return journey was through Dale Coppice, a wooded area with many paths which originally were
laid out over 200 years ago for Sabbath Walks encouraging workers to take their families for walks on a
Sunday rather than spend time in public houses. Coming through the woods we had to negotiate a number of
steps but travelled at a slow pace. We then moved on to Lodge Field which overlooks the Gorge. It was an
Old Elizabethan Deer Forest but in 2008 designated as a 'Local Nature Reserve'. The credit goes to the local
residents of Hodge Bower who involved themselves in sympathetically working on what had become a
bramble infested field, but were eventually acknowledged and supported by the local councils.
A few people partook of tea and cake in my garden and towards the end a Nuthatch visited my feeding
station. Other visitors to my garden this winter: a Roe Deer by himself in the night garden looking very
majestic; several Roe Deer in the field behind my garden on an earlier night looking quite intimidating; two
moles each on separate occasions but the cat had killed them; Percy the pheasant that uses it as a walk though
to my neighbour house, she feeds him regularly; a couple of bats; a huge number of birds which the cat
Amongst butterflies seen on the walk were 2 Brimstones, 1 orange tip, peacocks, small whites and
small tortoiseshells. MCM
5th January . Trysull. Leader : Andrew Milligan
After what had been one of the wettest years since records began it was a very welcome surprise to meet up on a day
that was not only mild and sunny but DRY. 15 of us set off on a 5 mile walk from Wombourne station along the canal at
the Bratch and via Awbridge and Trysull back to Wombourne. Though there was plenty of evidence of recent flooding
our paths were remarkably free of mud - another welcome surprise. I
suppose one doesn't expect to see much in the way of wildlife in early January, but there were welcome signs that
Spring might not be far away. We stopped to admire a large patch of Spring beauty [Claytonia perfoliata] in leaf though
not in flower and noticed both Daisy [Bellis perennis] and Yarrow [Achillea millefolium] actually in flower!
Birds spotted included Long-tailed tit [Aegithalos caudatus], Pheasant [Phasianus colchicus], and Mistle thrush [Turdus
viscivorus] whilst Robin[Erithacus rubecula], Great Tit [Parus major] and Great Spotted Woodpecker [Dendrocopus
major] were heard. At the end several members enjoyed coffee or snacks at the station café, some even sitting outside as it was so mild! It had been a good start to the Society's year.
WALKS AND FIELD TRIPS 2012 27th December Rindleford: Geoff Lambert
On a very wet morning, 13 hardy souls set off on our
traditional Christmas walk. The adventure had started
on the journey to Worfield with serious flooding
affecting various sections of the A454 Bridgnorth road,
including another victim stranded in the ford at Trescot.
Even before we set off, I wondered if the conditions
would curtail our planned route but on reaching the first
crossing of the Worfe, I was relieved to find the river
had not burst its banks. Just over an hour after setting
off we were rewarded with sunshine which lasted the
rest of the walk and the only change to the walk was
finding a new barbed wire fence which meant a detour
to reach High Rock or having our lunch nearby. The
latter was decided and with glorious views we headed
back arriving in Worfield at 13.30.