(Above) Long Tailed Tit (Below) Green woodpecker © Jane Adams
Late autumn and winter is a wonderful time to explore Kingcombe meadows nature reserve. It is the perfect time to wander around the reserve, taking in the intimate sounds and peace across the valley.
Take a walk along the river valley and you will hear the slow, gentle, tap-tap-tap of a nuthatch searching for insects on the rotten trees, bashing away at the bark to reveal its dinner. This lovely, sparrow sized bird, has a steely-grey back, with rich red flanks and a huge long dagger-shaped bill. Stand still and you might be treated to superb close up views of this acrobatic creature, often seeming to defy gravity as it hangs head-down, searching for food.
If you want to spot Green woodpeckers, they can be found looking for their favourite food ants- in fields full of ant hills, with nearby trees for cover. Fields along the river are a great place to find these colourful birds. Their flight is unmistakable, flapping their wings and gliding downwards for a short way and then climbing back up again created a bounding, bouncy flight that distinguishes them from every other bird. If in any doubt, the mad, cackling laugh they give as they fly away from you helps!
The bare tree branches also make bird spotting in the trees easier at this time of year. Listen out for the high pitched rippling, trilling calls of flocks of long-tailed tits, rolling through the trees and hedgerows, looking for spiders and other bugs in the tree tops. With a body not much bigger than the top of your thumb, and a tail twice as long, these lovely pink, white and black birds really deserve the name ‘flying lollypops’!
Over the Christmas holidays, why not pop over to Kingcombe, walk off some of that festive food and catch up with some of the (avian) locals!