Sunday 26th February 2012

Natural History Walk at Chew Valley Lake

On a very sunny day for February, but only a cold 10 degrees centigrade, eleven members met at the main car park and picnic area, which was extremely busy with people and cars and even what appeared to be a VW campervan get together.

We made our way from the cafe parallel with the road towards another car parking and picnic area noting mallard, black-headed gulls, coots and moorhens. In the wood as we passed by on our way towards Denny Island, rooks, crows and robins were seen. As we carried still further on to enter the figure of eight path and eventually a bird watching hide, it was noticed that there were no grey herons nesting on the island this year.

From the hide in the creek could be seen teal, golden-eye, Canada geese and more mallard and coots. On leaving the hide to return we followed a raised a wooden path through a fallen tree marshy patch where there were moss, red dog-wood and ferns. Here too, we found on the bare trees yellow/orange lichen which grows most actively when trees are not in leaf. This lichen was thought to be Xanthoria parietina. Also spotted on the logs partially submerged in the water were red caps, one of the cup fungi. It was most likely Sarcoscypha coccinea, which is particularly common in the West Country growing on decaying timber on damp ground. Cup fungi produce their spores within the cup itself so cannot fall out, only being dispersed when the cup is knocked sharply.

Having left the figure of eight trail, mute swans, a wren, pied wagtails and some lesser black-backed gulls were spotted on the way back to the cafe and car park.

We enjoyed a hot drink before leaving at 4.30pm, some celandines and snowdrops were seen on the way out.

Malcolm Marston (Natural History Secretary)