The weather continued to be kind for the group of 18 who met at North Wyke on Sunday 9 June, part of the Rothamsted Research Centre. The walk started around the historic manor house of North Wyke with Swift, House Sparrow and several other species, including bats nesting in the old dovecotes and crevices. It was also pleasing to see House Martin nesting against the eves. An active pair of Spotted Flycatchers were found to be using a gap in the woodwork at one end of the building for their nest.
Under Jerry Tallowin’s guidance we then proceeded to investigate the grounds and then down through several experimental fields. The Centre is an independent scientific research institute and the longest running agricultural research station in the world. Jerry explained some of the projects being carried out at the Centre as we moved from one area to another and would interrupt himself with “can you hear that Goldcrest? or Nuthatch calling!” We passed through woodland hearing Willow Warbler and several other species, close to where the Great Spot had been feeding young days before which had now fledged. Jerry showed us an area of woodland that had been planted solely with different types of willow which were now very established and providing good habitat. We also visited an area with two ponds with several species of dragonfly zooming around and nearby a Reed Bunting had a nest.
With the sun now hot on our backs we explored the wild flower hay meadows alongside the River Taw where Dipper and Kingfisher are seen regularly and we wandered around the two small nature conservation areas which had excellent mixed hedgerows before making our way back up to the wonderful setting of the old Manor where we picnicked in the grounds as the Swifts flew around us.
After lunch Jerry rounded off the meeting by ringing a brood of Blue tit pulli for the group. A very interesting and enjoyable outing with good company.