On the first Wednesday of the month throughout the year, the Club organises a wildlife walk to local sites of interest. Booking is advisable via our Outings Convenor, Peter Proudlove on tel. 07966-494935 or email him at: email@example.com
07 June 2023: Barn’s Charity Field, Desford, Led by Margaret McLoughlin and hosted by Nick and Pru Crowley.
William Barns who died in 1729 bequeathed £100, the interest of which was to provide apprenticing for the poor children of the village. This sum was used to purchase 14.5 acres of land in the Open Fields, and at Enclosure in 1760, two fields were allotted in its place between Station Road and Leicester Lane, adjoining Heath Brook. The fields were recognised as a ‘Local Wildlife Site of Grasslands’ with such a large assemblage of plant species which are now quite rare, based on the fields having a long history as an unimproved permanent pasture.
Meeting point to be advised upon booking this walk with Peter Proudlove.
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.
If anyone has any thoughts for new sites to visit or would be willing to lead a walk, even just once a year, or if you might be able to offer any assistance (it is not as onerous as you may think) please contact Peter as above.
05 July 2023: Details to be advised.
02 August 2023: Oakthorpe Picnic Site, Led by Peter Proudlove
Located in the heart of the National Forest, off the Donisthorpe to Ashby de la Zouch road, Oakthorpe Picnic Site comprises 14.8 acres (six hectares) of mixed habitats including woodland, semi-improved grassland and wildflower areas. The site is home to a wide range of both flora and fauna. There are surfaced paths suitable for all users (wheelchair users will require assistance due to inclines and pedestrian routes into the neighbouring 98.8 acre (40 hectares) Willesley Wood, managed by the Woodland Trust.
Meet on the Ashby Road, Donisthorpe, DE12 7QG, Grid Ref. SK3295114110
06 September 2023: Stanford Reservoir, led by Kate Moore Details to be advised in the next (June) Newsletter
PREVIOUS WILDLIFE WALKS SINCE 2016
3 May 2023: Cloud Trail, near Worthington, led by Steve Woodward and Helen Ikin.
This linear trail should offer us a good range of spring woodland flowers and views across the quarry might yield birds such as the Peregrine Falcon. This is a new location for the Loughborough Naturalists, so it will be interesting to see what we can find in this area.
Meet at the car park near Worthington at Grid Ref. SK407210.
5 April 2023: Dishley Pool. Led by Hazel Graves.
It is some time since we visited this substantial site on the northern edge of Loughborough. The large, reed–fringed pool is situated alongside the Black Brook and close to the River Soar. We will walk along the stream to the Pool and then further down to the Grand Union Canal and if time permits, a little way along. In summer, this is a good site for butterflies, dragonflies, waterside plants and a variety of birds including Kingfisher. It will be interesting to see what species we can find here in early spring For recording purposes, the VC County Border runs along the middle of the canal at this point.
Directions: from the A6 island on the Derby Road, Loughborough (SK523208), take Bishop Meadow Road (leading to the industrial estate). Turn left onto Weldon Road going past ‘Go Outdoors’ and follow the road round to the right. Turn left onto Cotton Way and follow through as far as it goes to park at the end.
Post Code LE11 5FJ, Grid Reference SK519211.
1 March 2023 – Hicks Lodge. Led by Peter Proudlove.
This is a Forestry England park which is part of the National Forest. It comprises a variety of habitats including a lake, woodland and grassland which should provide plenty of interesting flora and fauna. There is also an excellent café on site.
Meet in the car park, Willesley Woodside, Moira Road, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Swadlincote LE65 2UP. Grid Ref: SK328155.
1 February 2023 – Sence Valley Forest Park. Led by Peter Proudlove.
Part of the National Forest, this is a wonderful example of how a disused opencast working can be transformed into a woodland and wildlife haven. The 150-acre site contains woodland, lakes, grassland and a wildflower meadow. With over 150 bird species recorded and bird hides, it is excellent for birdwatchers. Surfaced trails provide good access. There is also a small mobile café on site.
Meet at the top car park off Ravenstone Road, Ibstock. Grid Ref: SK404113.
January 2023 – No Walk planned
7 December 2022: Abbey Park, Leicester – led by Hazel Graves.
Abbey Park, situated between the Grand Union Canal and the River Soar, should provide us with easy winter walking on good paths. There are areas of open water, including the River Soar where we should have good views of the more familiar waterbirds, and always the chance of a surprise. The ancient walls can be interesting for their flora. As expected in a city park there are specimen trees which should be of interest, possibly fungi and some of the less manicured areas will probably still have a ground flora, including some of our more common species and some more unusual. There will also be typical ‘Park’ planting which should appeal, especially to the gardeners amongst us. City centres are good places to find ‘weeds’, for those more interested in ‘wild’ aliens. There is a café in the park where we could complete our visit at lunchtime.
Meet at 9.30am at St Margaret’s Pastures car park (Pay and Display).
From Loughborough head down the A6 to Red Hill Circle roundabout, then take Abbey Lane into the city. This becomes St Margaret’s Way. Cross the bridge over the river, drive along the side of the Park, (past the old walled boundary) and then turn left to access the road to the St Margaret’s Pastures car park. (This is before the road goes over the canal and before St Margaret’s Church). The left-hand turn is at SK583053.
2 November 2022: Watermead Country Park, Birstall Gravel Pits – led by Jim and Sue Graham. Over 200 species of bird have been recorded in this large site of flooded pits, extensive reedbeds, rough grassland and now mature woodland. The River Soar and Grand Union Canal flow through the Park forming a vital green corridor for wildlife. During the winter months, the resident wetland birds are joined by Wigeon, Goosander, Bittern and other visitors occasionally including Smew. Here too if we are lucky, we may be able to glimpse a Kingfisher, Siskin, Redpoll, Fieldfare or Redwing or even a Short-eared Owl, hunting over the rough grassland. The Park is also home to a variety of mammals which we may come across including Weasel, Stoat, Fox and Otter. Park along Whiles Lane, Birstall, LE4 4GD which runs alongside the River Soar. Grid reference SK599091. Refreshments are possible at the White Horse pub or in the village for anyone wishing to have lunch after our walk.
5 October 2022: Swithland Wood – led by Jim and Sue Graham. This SSSI site is a nationally important ancient oak woodland which is a remnant of the original Charnwood Forest. It comprises 170 acres of mixed native trees, primarily mature oak, birch, alder, hazel and small-leaved lime, which support a rich variety of birds, insects and wildflowers. In autumn, certain areas can also be very productive for ferns and fungi, particularly in Stocking Wood, a recently acquired segment by the Bradgate Park Trust. Park in Swithland Wood South Car Park, off Roecliffe Road, for which there is a small charge. SK536118.
7 September 2022: New Lount Nature Reserve – led by Margaret McLoughlin. This delightful Local Nature Reserve, designated in 1995, is managed by Leicestershire County Council. It is situated on the site of the former New Lount Colliery, which operated between 1924 and 1968. The mosaic of woodland, species-rich grassland and ponds make it a haven for wildlife including dragonflies, Grass Snakes and Bee Orchids. It is some time since our last visit to this reserve which should provide plenty of interest at this time of the year. Meet in the Car Park which is situated 0.3 miles north along Melbourne Road from its junction with Rempstone Road (B5324) at SK399186.
3 August 2022: Bagworth Heath – led by Hazel Graves. Bagworth Heath is an area of some 185 acres, on the south side of Heath Road, south-west of Bagworth village. It is managed by Leicestershire County Council and comprises woodland, grassland, heathland and ponds, traversed by a series of grass and surfaced footpaths. Following several successful visits to this area, we look forward to returning to this site to explore the wildlife that can be found here during the summer. Meet at the Bagworth Woods Car Park off Heath Road. Grid Reference SK456067.
6 July 2022: Holly Hayes Wood and Coalville Meadows – led by Peter Proudlove. A walk around Holly Hayes Wood and Coalville Meadows between Coalville and Whitwick. The wood is a maze of paths bordering the stream that comes from Bardon Hill and flows to Grace Dieu Brook. Coalville Meadows are part SSSI for their plant life and have recently been acquired by LRWT. Please park near the corner of Meadow Lane and Abbots Oak Drive, Coalville near LE67 4SB. SK448147. There is a layby on the south-eat side of Meadow Lane.
1 June 2022: Ratby Burroughs. Led by Jim and Sue Graham – Ratby Burroughs is an ancient woodland site which sits on the edge of Charnwood Forest, managed by the Woodland Trust. It comprises an ancient woodland, unimproved grassland, hay meadows and a younger woodland to the south, planted c1996. In spring, Bluebells and other ancient woodland indicator plant species carpet the forest floor and there is a mixture of broadleaved tree species of diverse ages, including Oak, Ash, Rowan, Silver Birch and Cherry. The site was a trial for the ‘Forest of Flowers Project’. Many wild flowers have since colonised areas beyond the initial seeding sites and we should be able to observe some of these, together with a good variety of birds, butterflies and other insects. Our walk will take us through a cross-section of habitats. Refreshments are possible afterwards in Ratby. From Main Street in Ratby, turn onto Burroughs Road, pass the Plough Inn and proceed for approximately a mile. Park at the small car park on your right at Grid Ref SK497061.
4 May 2022: Charnwood Lodge. Led by Margaret McLoughlin – Unique in the county, this reserve under the stewardship of LRWT, and has two SSSI designations for both the Woodland but also the Heath grasslands. As one of the last truly wild areas in Charnwood Forest. Birds, bats, wildflowers, woodland butterflies, native trees, mosses and lichen all benefit from traditional, minimal management. Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk are now quite common, and there have been several sightings in recent years of Hobby. The large tracts of heath grassland are dotted with Bilberry, while marshes and boggy pools host wildflowers, such as Marsh Violet, Lesser Skullcap, Creeping Willow and Climbing Corydalis. Several locally rare ferns grow here, including Lemon-scented and Hard-fern, and there are rare species of sedge. The reserve is currently the only known site in the counties for several species of mosses and liverworts. Meet at Charnwood Lodge Reserve Grid Ref. SK458155, which is accessible via the LOCKED gate off Abbey Road about half a mile from the Coalville schools and Old Forest Rock pub towards Shepshed. You will be met at the gate for access from 9.15am and parking is possible along the track – follow to the end but please do not block the turning point.
6 April 2022: Ashby Canal. Led by Steve Woodward – A walk along the disused railway will get us to the canal, where we can take the towpath to Sutton Wharf. Whether the cafe there will be open, I cannot be sure. Then we can walk on the other side of the canal to Ambion Wood, and through the wood to the Battlefield Heritage Centre (another possibility for refreshments there). Then across the fields back to Shenton Station. Park at Shenton Station (small charge) at SK396003, where there are toilet facilities and a kiosk.
2 March 2022: Beacon Hill Country park. Led by Jim and Sue Graham – At this time of the year, the resident birds will be active and there may also be a chance of seeing winter visitors such as Brambling. We may also find emerging wildflowers in the woodland understorey and a few fungi to keep us occupied. Refreshments if so wished can be taken at the Beacon Hill Café after our walk. Meet at Beacon Hill Country Park (Lower Car Park, Breakback Road, Woodhouse Eaves), for which there is a charge, at 9.30am.
2 February 2022: Albert Village Lake. Led by Hazel Graves – Albert Village Lake is a large expanse of open water, reclaimed from historical coal and clay extraction activities and which now hosts a substantial variety of water birds. A level path leads all the way around the lake and good views of a number of bird species are possible at quite close quarters. At this time of the year, there should also be a good variety of mosses, lichens and fungi to see. Meet at the car park in Albert Village, Grid Ref. SK303182 at 9.30am. From Moira, drive north north-west along Rawdon Road. Take the left-hand fork onto Mushroom Lane and proceed to the crossroads in Albert Village, passing the lake on your left. Turn left at the crossroads onto Occupation Road. Continue on this road past Sankey Drive on your right and School Close on your left. Park in the village car park on the right-hand side of Occupation Road.
5 JANUARY 2022: Calke Park – Led by Steve Woodward – We will walk on public footpaths through Calke Park so this will be free of entry charge. We start on the reservoir shoreline where we should find some waterfowl then into the deer park where some large mammals are highly likely, as well as woodland birds. Along Mere Pond, then up towards the “Abbey” where we can get a cuppa and use the facilities. We return to Calke village along the drive, past the church. Park (for free) in the circular car park north of Calke village at SK375226. Meet at 9.30am.
1 DECEMBER 2021: Thornton Reservoir – Led by Peter Proudlove: This reservoir can produce a surprisingly diverse number of wildfowl 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, off Reservoir Road, 9.30am. Grid Ref: SK470074.
3 NOVEMBER 2021 – Bradgate Park – Led by Steve Woodward: Any time of the year it is well worth a visit to this country park and early winter is no exception. With a mosaic of habitats to explore including low wet and dry heathland, bare rocky outcrops, small streams and woodland, there is always something of interest. Most of our winter-visiting birds should have arrived, including Fieldfare, Redwing, Siskin and Redpoll adding to the variety of resident species. It will be a good opportunity to observe a number of fungi, lichens and mosses across the Park and although late in the season, with a keen eye, numerous plant and insect species characteristic of this SSSI site may still be observed. Meet in Newtown Linford car park, 9.30 am. Grid Ref: SK523098, There is a parking charge.
6 OCTOBER 2021 – Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Woods, Heather – Led by Margaret McLoughlin: This 460-acre woodland in the middle of the National Forest near to Normanton le Heath was created in 2012 on a former opencast mining site and incorporates a lake, some ancient woodland and old hedgerows. It is managed by the Woodland Trust and a total of 300,000 new native trees have been planted including Oak, Ash, Field Maple, Silver Birch and Hornbeam. Historically, we have made several visits to this site and it will be interesting to see how this is maturing with time and how many different species of wildlife we can find. Meet at the main car park, off Heather Lane, between Heather and Normanton le Heath, 9.30am. Grid Ref: SK383119.
1 SEPTEMBER 2021 – BAGWORTH HEATH COUNTRY PARK – Led by Hazel Graves: Bagworth Heath is an area of some 185 acres, managed by Leicestershire County Council. It comprises woodland, grassland, heathland, lakes and ponds, traversed by a series of grass and surfaced footpaths. The diversity of maturing habitats in this area should ensure plenty of interesting flora and fauna for us to observe and record. This site lies immediately to the south-west of Bagworth village to the south side of Heath Road. Meet at the Bagworth Woods car park off Heath Road, 9.30 am. Grid Ref: SK456067.
01 JULY 2020 – CANCELLED – BAGWORTH HEATH COUNTRY PARK – Led by Hazel Graves: Bagworth Heath is an area of some 185 acres, managed by Leicestershire County Council. It comprises woodland, grassland, heathland, lakes and ponds, traversed by a series of grass and surfaced footpaths. The diversity of maturing habitats in this area should ensure plenty of interesting flora and fauna for us to observe and record. This site lies immediately to the south-west of Bagworth village to the south side of Heath Road. Meet at the Bagworth Woods car park off Heath Road, 9.30 am. Grid Ref: SK456067.
03 JUNE 2020 – CANCELLED – DISHLEY POOL – Led by Hazel Graves: It is some time 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. We will walk along the stream to the Pool and then further down to the Grand Union Canal and if time permits, a little way along. It is a good site for butterflies, dragonflies, waterside plants and if we are lucky, Kingfisher. For recording purposes, the VC County Border runs along the middle of the canal at that point. Directions: from the A6 island on the Derby Road, Loughborough, take Bishop Meadow Road (leading to the industrial estate). Turn left onto Weldon Road going past ‘Go Outdoors’ and follow the road round to the right. Turn left onto Cotton Way and follow through as far as it goes to park at the end. Post Code LE11 5FJ, Grid Reference SK519211.
06 MAY 2020 – CANCELLED – CHARNWOOD LODGE – Led by Margaret McLoughlin: This beautiful LRWT SSSI nature reserve provides all year-round interest, but none more so than in springtime. We will explore the heaths, boggy pools, woodlands and fields in search of orchids and other plant specialties such as Bilberry, Lesser Skullcap, Creeping Willow and Lemon-scented Fern. The Reserve is also home to an impressive variety of butterflies, such as the Holly Blue and Green Hairstreak, moths and various other insects, mosses, liverworts and many other interesting species, some of which can be rarely found elsewhere in the County. Meet at the Reserve, Grid Reference 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.
01 APRIL 2020 – CANCELLED – ASHBY CANAL – Led by Steve Woodward: Opened in 1804, this canal originally serviced the Leicestershire coalfields, but by the 1830s had largely fallen into decline. It follows the contour of the land for some 31 miles from near Moira to the Coventry Canal and therefore has no locks along its length. Historically, it suffered heavily from subsidence, resulting in several closures so that today, only 22 miles of water remain navigable by boat. The Ashby Canal Trust was set up in 2000 to help restore the canal for navigation, but to date there are still areas which remain valuable to a range of wildlife, from aquatic plants, animals and birds to dragonflies, butterflies and a rich variety of hedgerow flora. Meet at Sutton Wharf Car Park, (Pay and Display) Wharf Lane, Sutton Cheney, Ashby Canal Bridge Number 34, nearest postcode CV13 0AL, Grid Reference SP411994.
04 MARCH 2020 – CANCELLED – BRADGATE PARK – Led by Steve Woodward: The varied heathland, woodland and valley habitats of this SSSI Site provide plenty of interest for the Naturalist, at any time of the year. On this occasion we will visit the upper reaches of the Park and explore the wildlife around the rocky outcrops, wet heath and wooded enclosures, in search of emerging plants, birds and other animals which should start to become more active into early Spring. Meet in the Hunt’s Hill (Old John) Pay and Display car park, Sharpley Hill, entrance opposite Benscliffe Road, Post Code LE6 0AH, Grid Reference SK522117.
05 FEBRUARY 2020 – THORNTON RESERVOIR – Led by Helen Ikin: This reservoir provides a wide variety of habitats, particularly for birds at this time of the year. We should expect to see good numbers of wildfowl and several species of woodland birds as they prepare for the coming breeding season. The circular, two and a half mile surfaced path around the reservoir is pleasant to walk and we might also be able to observe some early spring flowers and insects in the surrounding fields and hedgerows. Meet in the main car park, off Reservoir Road, Thornton. Grid Ref: SK470074.
08 JANUARY 2020 – QE2 DIAMOND JUBILEE WOOD and LONGMOOR LAKE – led by Helen Ikin and Steve Woodward (please note the 2nd Wednesday of the month): This extensive area near to Normanton-le-Heath was created by the Woodland Trust in 2012, comprising an old opencast mine, a large lake, arable land, native woodlands and hedgerows. At this time of the year there should be plenty of birding interest including geese and duck on the water and winter flocks of Redpoll, Siskin, Redwing and Fieldfare in the surrounding fields. If the weather turns inclement, there’s always a warm welcome at Cattows Farm for refreshments! Meet in the main car park, off Heather Lane halfway between Normanton-le-Heath and Heather (nearest postcode LE67 2TD), Grid Ref: SK383119.
04 DECEMBER 2019 – WATERMEAD CP NORTH – Led by Hazel Graves: This is an excellent wetland area of lakes and ponds, with extensive reedbeds, and five bird hides. The River Soar and surrounding area is a hotspot for Goosander, Shoveler and a wide variety of wintering waterfowl. The network of surfaced paths provides easy access in all weathers. Meet in the car park at Grid Ref: SK606106. This is off Fillingate. Follow the signs to Watermead Country Park North from the A46. There is a charge for the car park.
06 NOVEMBER 2019 – ALBERT VILLAGE LAKE – Led by Peter Wilkinson: Albert Village Lake is a large expanse of open water, reclaimed from historical coal and clay extraction activities and which now hosts a substantial variety of water birds. A level path leads all the way around the lake and good views of a number of bird species are possible at quite close quarters. Meet at the car park in Albert Village, Grid Ref. SK303182. From Moira, drive north-west along Rawdon Road. Take the left-hand fork onto Mushroom Lane and proceed to the crossroads in Albert Village, passing the lake on your left. Turn left at the crossroads on to Occupation Road. Continue on this road past Sankey Drive on your right and School Close on your left. Park in the village car park on the right-hand side of Occupation Road.
02 OCTOBER 2019 – ULVERSCROFT NATURE RESERVE – Led by Steve Woodward: This splendid reserve is managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and consists of a variety of habitats including woodland, heathland, marsh and species-rich grassland. It will be interesting to see what we can find here on an Autumn visit. We are fortunate to have Steve Woodward, who has had a long association with this reserve, to lead this walk. His expert knowledge about the flora, fauna and conservation management of the area promises to make this a most enjoyable trip. Meet near the reserve entrance on Whitcroft’s Lane at SK488126.
04 SEPTEMBER 2019 – NEW LOUNT NATURE RESERVE – Led by Margaret McLoughlin: This delightful Local Nature Reserve, designated in 1995, is managed by Leicestershire County Council. It is situated on the site of the former New Lount Colliery, which operated between 1924 and 1968. The mosaic of woodland, species-rich grassland and ponds make it a haven for wildlife including dragonflies, Grass Snakes and Bee-Orchids. Meet in the car park which is situated 0.3 miles north along Melbourne Road from its junction with Rempstone Road (B5324) at SK399186.
07 AUGUST 2019 – CLOUD WOOD SSSI, (Near Breedon-on-the-Hill) – Led by Bas Forgham: This ancient semi-natural woodland has SSSI status, based on its rich diversity of ground flora, some of which is rare in Leicestershire. Geologically, it is a key site for exposures of limestones and dolomites from the Lower Carboniferous Period, largely overlain with deposits of Keuper Marl and Boulder Clay. The resulting mix of soil types and moisture levels yields a wide variety of species including Orchids such as Broad-leaved Helleborine and Violet Helleborine, which grows here at the extreme north-east of its range in Britain. Silver-washed Fritillary and White Letter Hairstreak are also present here, together with a wide variety of bird species. Meet at the lay-by (SK419214), adjacent to the wood on the road between Gryffydam and Tonge.
03 JULY 2019 – SWITHLAND WOODS NORTH SSSI – Led by Helen Ikin and Steve Woodward: Further to a very successful Ranger-lead walk last year, an exploration of this SSSI in July should provide plenty of insect and botanical interest as well as being a valuable habitat for birds including the Spotted Flycatcher, a Red Data species which has suffered a 90% decline over the last 40 years. Covering an area of c170 acres, it is one of the best remnants of native woodland in Leicestershire. Adjoining the wood is also one of the finest remaining wildflower meadows in the County, the hay from which is traditionally harvested to help feed the deer in Bradgate Park. Meet at Swithland North car park, for which there is a charge of £2.00, on Swithland Road at SK537129.
5 JUNE 2019 – GRANTHAM CANAL near Stathern Bridge – Led by Jim and Sue Graham: A leisurely stroll along the side of the canal. There should be plenty of butterflies and dragonflies to keep us interested and with a bit of luck Hairy Dragonfly. There will be plenty of birds in evidence including good numbers of Sedge and Reed Warblers and with Red Kite also evident. Meet at the Dove Cottage car park at SK754324 where we will be taking lunch after our walk.
1 MAY 2019 – CHARNWOOD LODGE – Led by Margaret McLoughlin: 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.
3 APRIL 2019 – BAGWORTH HEATH – Led by Jim and Sue Graham: Bagworth Heath Country Park has been transformed from scarred industrial landscape of Desford Colliery into a valuable recreational resource, made up of woodland, grassland, heathland, lakes and ponds. There is a network of grass and surfaced paths throughout offering relaxing walks through varied habitats and extensive views. Meet at the car perk on Heath Road, Bagworth at SK458067 which is free of charge.
6 MARCH 2019 – THE OUTWOODS SSSI – Led by Jim and Sue Graham: We should find plenty to interest us on this March 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 is a small charge.
6 FEBRUARY 2019 – BRADGATE PARK – Led by Helen Ikin and Steve Woodward: Please note change of Walk. Meet at the Newtown Linford Car Park, SK524097 for which there is a charge. At this time of year we hope to bump into flocks of wintering birds including Redwing, Fieldfare, Siskin and Redpoll plus a variety of resident species.
9 JANUARY 2019 – QUEEN ELIZABETH DIAMOND JUBILEE WOOD – Led by Helen Ikin and Steve Woodward: This 460 acre woodland in the middle of the National Forest near to Normanton le Heath was created in 2012 on a former opencast mining site and incorporates a lake, some ancient woodland and old hedgerows. It is managed by the Woodland Trust and a total of 300,000 new native trees have been planted including Oak, Ash, Field Maple, Silver Birch and Hornbeam. It will be interesting to see how this site is maturing and how many different species of wildlife we can find. Meet at the main car park, off Heather Lane, between Heather and Normanton le Heath at SK383119.
5 DECEMBER 2018 – THORNTON RESERVOIR – Led by Helen Ikin and Steve Woodward: From 1853 to 1871, Thornton Reservoir served as the main water supply for Leicester’s population of 58,000. It was eventually taken out of use in 1982 and was opened to the Public in 1997, with a two and a half mile perimeter level footpath and a trout fishery. In 2005, it was designated a Local Wildlife Site for its diversity of wildlife. Fine views across the reservoir are afforded from the path and there is usually plenty of interest on the water with wintering wildfowl and waders. The surrounding woodlands and fields form a species-rich mosaic of habitats for us to explore. Meet at the main reservoir car park off Reservoir Road at SK470074.
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
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 – CANCELLED DUE TO EXTREME WEATHER: 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 2017 – 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.