A short walk is full of nature’s little surprises

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Take a walk anywhere near to the reserve and stop and listen for a moment.

See if you can hear the rat a tat tat of the great spotted woodpecker drumming on a tree trunk. He is trying to attract a mate and the louder the drumming the better chance he has, so much so that he has even used the metal pylons to amplify the sound. Now that is clever.

Nuthatch and tree creeper and herons can all be seen around the car park area.

At Mixenden reservoir lots of excitement as 250 whooper swans descended onto the water creating a mass of white almost like a floating iceberg. This was a spectacular sight (pictures on Calderdale Birds website).

One of this month’s work parties saw fourteen volunteers turn up. After the health and safety talk from Robin we split into three groups.

One went to the far end of the reserve to tidy up areas that had been disturbed when we cleared trees from the sphagnum bog. This took all morning with a long walk there and back. Group two also had a bit of a hike as they went to all the gates and checked and oiled the locks.

Group three mended some bird boxes that were vandalised a while ago, then completed some unfinished boxes. Then it was time for lunch and a good natter.

After lunch the remaining eight set off with ladders and tools and put up a Kestrel box and four general purpose boxes.

Blue or great tits will no doubt take up residence as one moved in while we where moving the ladders. We also fitted four nuthatch boxes,

Our next aim is to erect a number of owl boxes.

On another work day some of our members met with a group called Treesponsibility at the reserve to plant 600 saplings.

Treesponsibility is a charity with the aim to educate people about the need for action on climate change involving local communities and groups like ourselves in tree planting.

Since its formation in 1998, the group has planted an average of five hectares every year – that’s more than 12 acres of new woodland per year and we would like to thank them for their donation of trees and hard work.

Another group to visit was the Halifax Scientific Society on its annual amphibian monitoring walk,

Good amounts of frogspawn were found - about 40 clumps at Tag Cut and about 100 at Pixie Wood but no signs so far of any toads.

A number of palmate newts were spotted and while in Pixie Wood a new species of bilberry (vaccinium myrtillis), which is surprising as the fly-ash is said to be alkaline.

The good weather we have had over Easter has started to kick everything into motion. Butterflies are starting to emerge with peacock, tortoiseshell, comma, small copper and Brimstone all seen on the reserve.

Birds are nesting all over with good views of the wrens collecting nesting meterial.

Chiff chaff are in good numbers. The first blackcap was seen on Friday and the first swallow of the year was spotted over Brighouse and the bluebells are also coming out.

Written by the Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group