At 11.00am, I picked my Mum up for a quick walk around Apedale country park, a nature reserve only 5 minutes away from where I live. Well, a quick walk turned into over 6 hours of walking and exploring!
A beautiful sunny day in Staffordshire and yet, we were surprised to see the nature park so quiet. This isn’t unusual though. It is very rare to see the park buzzing with visitors. But I ask myself why?
I am sure people travel for miles to see great wildlife, totally unaware that there is a park bursting with wildlife right on their doorstep. But it just requires a bit of patience and perhaps a walk off the usual visitor pathways.
Speaking to Geoff, a volunteer at the park, he told us that he met a lady who was not even aware that there were two car parks at the nature reserve, two visitor centres selling good old fashioned staffordshire oatcakes, and a variety of nature trails.
We explored most of the reserve on this particular day, and taking the time to not only look but listen too, we saw a huge variety of wildlife.
The field near the visitor centre on Blackbank Road is a haven for nesting skylarks…
Thank you to Geoff, I was able to photograph a swallow nest in the Blacksmith building just behind the Heritage Centre…
Walking through the Apedale woods, we heard the definite sound of baby chicks. Feeling intrigued, we followed the sound to a hole in a tree which my Mum spotted. Could this be a woodpecker nest? Patience paid off and we were lucky enough to see a great spotted woodpecker arrive carrying insects. This moment brought a tear to my Mums eye. Proof that the best things in life really are free.
Who lives in a noisy nest like this?! …
There are plenty more birds and wildlife to see at Apedale including green woodpeckers, tawny owls, goldfinches, blue tits, song thrushes, mistle thrushes, butterflies, tadpoles, grass snakes, moorhens, butterflies and rabbits to name but a few.
Time was ticking on and we realised we had missed lunch. Watching wildlife certainly does make you lose track of time. We decided to call into the cafe at the Heritage Centre for some well earned, good old fashioned Staffordshire oatcakes.
We managed to see a pair of great tits nesting in an ornamental kiln by the cafe before the rain came at about 5.30pm.