Friends of Sherwood Heath

by | 15 August 2021 | Environment, Sherwood, Wildlife

On Saturday 15th May a small group of people braved the elements and ventured outside into the rain and cold in pursuit of knowledge. Yes, the Friends of Sherwood Heath were setting forth on their annual bird walk to see what they could see. They had the expert guidance of Mark Speck from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
So, what did they see? Chiffchaffs, willow warblers, tree pipits, garden warblers, blackcaps, blackbirds, buzzards, pied wagtails and swallows, among others. Many of these were small birds who had flown thousands of miles from southern Africa and some of these birds are now beginning to winter in Britain, probably because of the rise in temperatures, so it may be that we can expect even more variety in the future.
Buzzards are interesting. They are in part scavengers and so do not have the most attractive of reputations and they used to be common in Boughton Brake. They have a spectacular courting ritual, with the male soaring to a great height and then coming down in ever repeating circles in front of the female who remains still in the tree.
A genuinely rare bird has visited recently – a two barred crossbill which had come from Russia, presumably having lost its way. Maybe this is the precursor of other rare species? The Heath is an ideal place for bird watching because it is a heath and not a wood so there is plenty of open space where birds can be seen.
Of course, a bird walk would not be a bird walk without talk of other matters. The bluebells were out in force so there was much inconclusive conversation about British bluebells and Spanish bluebells, and there were a number of sheets on the ground intended to be places of refuge for reptiles whilst they were warming up. They should not be disturbed as they are essential for the wellbeing of the animals.
The next meeting took place on 19th June. It was a balsam bash which isn’t quite as it sounds. Balsam is a plant originally from the Western Himalayas and introduced into this country in 1839. It has an attractive pink flower, a sweet smell and a number of attractive names. All of which would make you think this plant should be encouraged and preserved, but balsam is so successful that it can kill off most other plants in the vicinity. It is not poisonous, merely very good at what it does. One plant can produce up to 2,500 seeds and can throw a seed pod up to seven metres away.
The next meeting of the Friends was a glow worm spotting walk on Thursday 22nd July and the August meeting will be a family walk (parents and children) on Saturday 21st August at 1.00pm. All are welcome.
The Friends hold meetings every month or more frequently. Guests or new members are welcome. They are possibly an eccentric bunch with a genuine interest in the environment but hopefully a not entirely serious approach to it. If you are interested in joining them call Bob Murray on 01623 836131, or contact Norman Barrows at tsbarrows@hamlynlodge.com or Lynn.Preece@newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk.