Wildlife Walks

On the first Wednesday of the month throughout the year, the Club organises a wildlife walk to local sites of interest.

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These walks are a wonderful way to discover our rich local natural history and meet other members of the Club. We are very fortunate to have a number of members with expertise across many fields including botany, entomology and ornithology who are only too willing to share their identification skills with those of us who in turn, are keen to learn. The walks provide an invaluable opportunity to record the flora and fauna.  Friendly and informal, new faces are always welcomed.  The walks are never too strenuous, good for young and old alike and most culminate with an optional visit to a local pub or café for lunch and a bit more socialising. If you fancy coming along to any of the walks below, there’s no need to book in advance – just turn up and enjoy and there is no charge for attending. We would be delighted to see you! All walks start at 9:30am unless otherwise stated and end about noon. Please wear suitable footwear as the terrain may be rough or muddy.

Upcoming Programme for 2018

NOVEMBER 7th – RIVERSIDE WALK, BARROW-UPON-SOAR – Led by Jim and Sue Graham – This is a walk which continues to prove popular with our group, providing much interest, even at this time of the year, particularly with respect to water birds and a surprising variety of plants. Meet in the car park, Barrow-upon Soar, just off the Kipper Roundabout at SK574173

If anyone would be willing to lead a walk, even just once a year, please contact Sue Graham (Tel: 0116-2366474 or email: jsgraham83@aol.com) if you might be able to offer any assistance. It is not as onerous as you may think. Thank you.

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PREVIOUS WILDLIFE WALKS IN 2016/17/18 

OCTOBER 3rd – GRACE DIEU WOOD – Led by Helen Ikin – Helen Ikin and Steve Woodward are currently working on a publication detailing the wildlife that they have identified in this extensive woodland over a considerable period of time. It promises to be an exceptional and comprehensive Natural History reference guide as well as a very interesting and informative read. Whilst we await this going to press, Helen will guide us through this beautiful and varied woodland and share with us some of her vast knowledge of this site. Meet in the Bull’s Head Pub Car Park, off Loughborough Road, Thringstone, LE67 8LR, SK430181

5 SEPTEMBER – SWITHLAND RESERVOIR AND RABBITS BRIDGE – Led by Helen Ikin – September is usually a good month to see both resident and autumn migrant species of birds on the reservoir. This, coupled with an easy stroll to and around Rabbit’s Bridge should provide us with some good hedgerow species and some late summer/early autumn insects to keep us occupied. Park on the Dam on Kinchley Lane, Swithland Reservoir, SK557148

1 AUGUST – CANAL TOWPATH, KEGWORTH – Led by Jim and Sue Graham – At this time of the year, there should still be plenty of plants and insects to hold our interest along the margins of the towpath and if we are lucky, we might even spot a Scarce Chaser Dragonfly, which has recently colonised this area. On this level, easy walk, numerous species of birds can also be found including warblers and terns and Peregrines are known to be breeding close by. Meet at the car park north- east of Kegworth, on Kingston Lane, SK494272

4 JULY 2018 – Swithland Wood – Led by a Bradgate Park Ranger – Swithland Wood is an ancient semi-natural woodland which dates back to 1512, when some of this area was farmed as ridge and furrow fields. A SSSI, this site contains some of the best remaining examples of oak-lime and Alder woodland in Leicestershire. It supports a wide variety of plants, butterflies, moths and birds, due to the continuity of woodland over hundreds of years. Periodic disruptions including quarrying, felling, construction of a water main across the site, clearing back of rides and paths and erosion from human footfall have all created different ecosystems, allowing the flora and fauna to evolve. It is managed by the Bradgate Park Trust primarily through coppicing and the walk will take us through the various compartments of the wood, including the flower meadow and one of the new woodland areas, recently acquired by the Trust and opened to the Public. Meet at Swithland Wood South Car Park, off Roecliffe Road, LE12 8TN. Grid Ref. SK536118. There is a small parking charge.

6 JUNE 2018 – FRISBY LAKES – Led by Russell Parry – Frisby Lakes are situated in the Wreake Valley, south-west of Asfordby, containing two mature gravel pits. Russell Parry, an active member of the BSBI and LROS, has kindly volunteered to lead this walk. If the weather is fine, this should be be a good location to observe dragonflies and damselflies which frequent the still waters and the adjacent River Wreake. Many of the plants around the grassy margins of the lakes should be showing at their best, in turn a haven for butterflies and other insects. There should also be good numbers of water birds to add interest to this varied site. Park on or near Mill Lane in the village of Frisby on the Wreake and meet at the northern end of Mill Lane, LE14 2NN, Grid Ref. SK697179. We plan to walk around the larger of the two lakes to the north-west of this point using a permissive footpath. This is a walk of about 2 Km on mostly level ground. It is likely to be firm at this time of the year. We will also cross and walk parallel to the River Wreake. Please note that the only nearby conveniences are in the village pub, which will almost certainly not be open when we first arrive!

2 MAY 2018 – CHARNWOOD LODGE – Led by Annie Smith LRWT – Lying 3km north of Copt Oak, this is one of the flagship nature reserves of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, consisting of some 134 hectares of mixed habitats including heathland, acid grassland, pockets of wetland, a reservoir, woodland and a number of small ponds. Collectively, these provide a rich ecological area which has SSSI designation, both for its flora and the numerous pre-cambrian rocky outcrops that punctuate the landscape. May should be a good time of the year to observe the many species of plants, insects and birds that occur here, including if we are lucky, Holly Blue and Green Hairstreak butterflies, Tree Pipit, warblers, orchids, and Lemon-scented and Hard Fern – two species which are uncommon in Leicestershire. Meet at the Reserve, grid ref. SK458155 which can be accessed from the farm track leading off Abbey Road, about 0.5 km from the Forest Rock Pub junction. Parking is possible along the track leading up to the Reserve entrance.

4 APRIL 2018 – GROBY POOL TO NEWTOWN LINFORD – Lead by Jim & Sue Graham – For a relatively small area, Groby Pool and its immediate surroundings plays host to a considerable variety of wildlife. It consists of a patchwork of open water, marsh, reed swamp, Alder woodland and wet and dry grassland. At this time of the year, we could see birds including returning hirundines and other returning spring/passage migrants. Wintering wildfowl should still be present, together with Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. This area has traditionally been a stronghold for Marsh Tit and Cetti’s Warbler has more recently been recorded here. There is also the potential to observe Peregrine flying through if we are lucky. The footpath from the Pool leading up towards Newtown Linford should also provide botanical interest including rushes and sedges, and if the weather is fine, a variety of insect species should be recorded. Meet at Groby Pool Main Car Park at SK525079 – there is no parking charge.

7 MARCH 2018 – ALBERT VILLAGE LAKE – Led by Bas Forgham – Please note a 10am start – a large water body with an extensive reedbed and surrounding grasslands.

7 FEBRUARY 2018 – HICKS LODGE – Led by Bas Forgham – Please note a 10am start – a former mining site in north-west of the county, it is now owned by the Forestry Commission with an extensive network of footpaths and a large lake. This should provide plenty of interest, especially of wintering wildfowl and the first signs of the emergent spring flora. Meet at the car park at SK329155, for which there is a charge.

10 JANUARY – SENCE VALLEY FOREST PARK – Led by Bas Forgham – Please note later start time of 10.00am and 2nd Wednesday of the month – Over 150 species of birds have been recorded on the 60 hectare site, which nature has reclaimed from a former open cast colliery. This should be the prime time for observing wintering duck and other wildfowl. Flocks of winter thrushes and finches may also be seen in the surrounding trees and grassland and there is also the possibility of glimpsing an Otter or Water Vole along the River Sence itself if we are really lucky. Meet at the Lower Car Park, Sence Valley Forest Park, located north of Ibstock on the A447 at SK400112.

6 DECEMBER 2017 – WATERMEAD COUNTRY PARK SOUTH – Lead by Jim & Sue Graham – Watermead CP is a popular area to visit at any time of the year, but it is a while since the Club explored the southern section of this considerable area, the lakes and water courses of which should host plenty of wintering wildfowl. There may also be a chance to see Redwing and Fieldfare alongside a wide variety of resident bird species. Meet on Whiles Lane, Birstall, SK599091. There is a small parking bay, suitable for two or three cars, but it is also possible to park anywhere on the road, alongside the River Soar.

1 NOVEMBER 2017 – THORNTON RESERVOIR – Lead by Helen Ikin/Steve Woodward – It is some time since we visited this reservoir, which can produce a surprisingly diverse number of wildfowl and wader species during the winter months. One of the advantages of this particular area is that the birds are never too far away to observe, both on the water and in the marginal trees and the reservoir can be circumnavigated easily on a level track. Meet in main car park, SK471074.

4 OCTOBER 2017 – BRADGATE PARK – Led by Helen Ikin/Steve Woodward – Early autumn is a fine time to visit this country park, with a variety of habitats including low heathland, bare rocky outcrops, small streams and woodland. Most of our summer migrant birds will be starting to move through, but it should still be a good time to observe a number of species across the Park and on the neighbouring Cropston Reservoir. Certain plant and insect species are also usually evident at this time of the year. Meet in Hallgates car park, SK542113, for which there is a £3.00 charge.

6 SEPTEMBER 2017 – COSSINGTON MEADOWS NATURE RESERVE – This large site can be so interesting at this time of the year that it could almost become a fixture in the Club calendar! This important large site is really one of the best local places to visit at this time of the year, when many bird species in particular are on the move. The late summer flora and insect fauna can also prove interesting. Meet at the car park next to Cossington Church at SK604137.

2 AUGUST 2017 – KELHAM BRIDGE NATURE RESERVE – Led by Bas Forgham at the later time of 10:00am – This interesting wetland site, situated alongside the River Sence, covering 8.1 hectares, has undergone great change and now consists of pools, reedbeds, shrubby and grassy areas attractive to a wide variety of wildlife. It is located just to the north of Sence Valley Forest Park and on the opposite side of the road. Bas has been involved with, and has given advice on, this site from its early stages when it was the local sewage farm and has kindly offered to show us around. He will open the gate at the entrance to enable us to park off the road in safety at SK406121.

5 JULY 2017 – BREEDON HILL – Led by Helen Ikin at the later time of 10:00am – It is many years since we visited this local landmark and carboniferous limestone hill in the north-west of our county. This is a good site for seeing Ravens and Peregrines and hopefully we should find some interesting plants and invertebrates. Helen has kindly offered to lead this walk and we shall meet at the Church car park near the summit at SK405234.

14 JUNE 2017 – ROTHLEY AND MOUNTSORREL COMMONS AND BUDDON WOOD SOUTH MOUND – This is an interesting area for wild flowers, birds and insects and let’s hope that this time we have plenty of time to explore the various sites! Meet at Granite’s Coffee Shop car park near the site of the old Nunckley Quarry and mineral line situated a short distance south of the entrance to Kinchley Lane at SK570142.

3 MAY 2017 – ULVERSCROFT NATURE RESERVE – It is always good to visit this favourite LRWT Reserve and especially so in May. Steve Woodward, the Reserve Convenor, has been involved with the management here for many years and has kindly agreed to lead this walk. Meet near the entrance on Whitcroft’s Lane at SK488126.

5 APRIL 2017 – BEACON HILL COUNTRY PARK, SUMMIT AREA – This early spring visit could produce some migrants such as Wheatears and Ring Ouzels, or warblers in the plantations where Primroses should be coming into flower. If the numerous Sallows are in flower, and the sun shines, insects may be active. Meet at the top car park, at SK509146, for which there is a charge.

1 MARCH 2017 – BIRSTALL GRAVEL PITS – Although we have visited here recently this place is so interesting at this time of the year with its breeding Grey Herons and Cormorants and easily approached waterfowl, some also starting to breed, that there’s much to see in this section of Watermead. Small birds in variety, including Cetti’s Warbler, can usually be relied on being present and, if the sun shines and the Sallow are in flower, a variety of insects, including butterflies out of hibernation. Meet at the car park off Meadow Lane, Birstall. From Birstall village, go along Wanlip Lane, turn right at Lambourne Road by the aquarium shop, first left and then immediately right down the road to the car park at the bottom.

1 FEBRUARY 2016 – SENCE VALLEY FOREST PARK, IBSTOCK – Bas Forgham has kindly offered to lead this walk, which will take us around the lakes and wooded areas of this 60 hectare former open cast colliery site. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded here and February should be prime time to see wintering duck and other wildfowl. We may also be able to catch up with flocks of finches and thrushes in the surrounding trees and grassland. The River Sence is now home to Otters, and Water Voles have also been recorded along its tributaries. We shall meet at the lower car park at SK400112. From the A511 Ashby Road, turn left at the roundabout on to the A447 towards Ravenstone and Ibstock. After about 4km, the park entrance is located on the right at the top of an incline just before Ibstock village.

4 JANUARY 2017 – SWITHLAND RESERVOIR NORTH and GRANITES COFFEE SHOP + NATURE TRAIL – We shall meet on the dam road at SK556147 and spend some time looking at the waterfowl out on the water and at anything of interest in the Waterworks Grounds or over Buddon Wood and then make our way back up Kinchley Lane from where we should be able to see the recent extension of the Buddon Wood South Mound on to the Kinchley Fields. On reaching Wood Lane, turn right and after about 200 metres turn right again into the new car park (near the site of the old Kinchley Quarry) where we can get a drink before walking the Nature Trail.

7 DECEMBER 2016 – WATERMEAD CP NORTH, INCLUDING REEDBED NATURE RESERVE – This is a good time of the year for seeing a variety of waterfowl and other winter visitors and the hides can prove useful in the event of bad weather. Meet at the car park just off the old Wanlip Road at SK607113. To find the entrance when approaching on the A6, turn eastwards on to the Western Bypass and at the second roundabout turn right, then at the second roundabout (near the Socatec Shop Factory), turn right again on to the old Wanlip Lane. Drive to the end and turn left through the entrance gate (£2.50 per car) and almost immediately right into the car park.

2 NOVEMBER 2016 – BEACON HILL COUNTRY PARK, SUMMIT AREA – The autumn looks like being a good one for Rowan berries and Beech mast which hopefully may attract good numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare and Brambling to this site. This is also an excellent place to find those fungi associated with Beech, oak and birch trees and for seeing birds of prey and Ravens. Meet at the top car park, SK509146, for which there is a charge.

5 OCTOBER 2016 – RIVER SOAR AND GRAND UNION CANAL, QUORN/BARROW – It is several years now since we did this riverside walk so it will be good to note any changes that may have taken place. The river and canal here support many aquatic and riparial plant species and the invertebrate fauna can prove interesting. Meet at the Old Station car park, at the top of the hill in Barrow, at SK574173.

7 SEPTEMBER 2016 – COSSINGTON MEADOWS NATURE RESERVE – My apologies for yet another visit to this important large site but this is really one of the best local places to visit at this time of the year, when many bird species in particular are on the move. The late summer flora and insect fauna can also prove interesting. Meet at the car park next to Cossington Church at SK604137.

3 AUGUST 2016 – NATIONAL TREE COLLECTION, BEACON HILL COUNTRY PARK – The woodland here with its maturing trees and shrubs (including all the British species) is an amenity and resource we have not made enough of in the past and this visit hopefully, should enable us to take a closer look. The margins of the rides in the more open areas support a wealth of wild flowers including various umbellifers known to be attractive to many invertebrates. We should also have time to look at Wileman’s Pond, near the car park. Meet at the Lower Beacon car park at SK521148, for which there is a charge.

13 JULY 2016 – CLOUD WOOD SSSI near Breedon-on-the-Hill – This visit has been arranged in the hope of seeing the Silver-washed Fritillary (now apparently established here) and the White-letter Hairstreak, but also the diverse summer flora and varied bird life. Meet at the lay-by at SK419214, adjacent to the wood on the road between Gryffydam and Tonge.

8 JUNE 2016 – MOUNTSORREL & ROTHLEY COMMONS AND BUDDON WOOD SOUTH MOUND – During this visit it is intended to do a circular walk pulling in Castle Hill, Broad Hill, Mountsorrel and Rothley Commons and Buddon Wood South Mound. Some of the walk will be along recently opened footpaths where interesting plants and other wildlife occur. Meet at the Mountsorrel Memorial Hall car park in the Main Street, opposite The Green at SK584147.

4 MAY 2016 – THE OUTWOODS SSSI near WOODHOUSE EAVES – We should find plenty to interest us on this May Day morning in this large area of mixed woodland between Woodhouse Eaves and Nanpantan. Meet at the small car park at the top of the hill, near The Cottage, at SK515159, at which there may be a charge.

6 APRIL 2016 – DISHLEY POOL AND RIVER SOAR AND MEADOWS – It is several years since we visited this interesting site on the northern edge of Loughborough. The large, reed-fringed pool is situated alongside the Black Brook and close to the River Soar. The area supports many willows and sallows and some herb-rich grassland while the Brook is a favoured haunt of Kingfisher and in winter, Water Rail. Directions: from the A6 island on the Derby Road, Loughborough (SK523208), take Bishop Meadow Road (leading to the industrial estate), then turn left at the ‘Go Outdoors’ sign, right at Weldon Road and left at ‘K.S.B’ sign to car park.

2 MARCH 2016 – BRADGATE PARK – NORTH-WEST SECTION – During this visit it is intended to look at the area around Old John, the highest part of the Park and the section we have visited the least. We will note any bird activity in the mature woodland near the car park and any activity on the open heath around Old John. Given a sunny morning an early Adder would be possible. Meet at the Old John (Hunt’s Hill) car park, opposite Benscliffe Road, at SK523116, for which there is a charge.

3 FEBRUARY 2016 – BIRSTALL GRAVEL PITS – This large site of flooded pits and now mature woodland is good for allowing close views of the varied waterfowl and some years attracts flocks of Siskin and Redpoll in addition to the usual resident bird species. Meet at the car park off Meadow Lane, Birstall at SK602095. From Birstall Village go along Wanlip Lane, turn right at Lambourne Road, by the aquarium shop, first left and then turn right down the road to the car park at the bottom.

6 JANUARY 2016 – CADEMAN WOOD AND MOOR – A winter visit to this interesting piece of the Charnwood Forest to see if we can locate the colonies of Bilberry and Heather some of which we have found difficulty in locating recently because of the spread of seedling trees. Also, of course, anything else of note! Meet at the car park off Swanymote Road, below High Cademan at SK443168.