Saturday, 20 September 2014

Wild Afternoon - Coombes Valley


About a mile or so from home we're really lucky to have the most fabulous RSPB nature reserve nestled in the gorgeous Coombes Valley, part of the bigger Churnet Valley landscape that we call home. Today was the reserve's annual open day so when the rain had cleared and the mist had lifted, we popped over to have a look at some of the exciting new things we heard had been happening.

It was the most brilliant afternoon of discovery and exploration. A new trail has been laid, opening up access to some of the younger woodland that the RSPB manages, as well as new footpaths to make the site more wheelchair, pushchair and family friendly. It's quite a small reserve with tons of different habitats including meadows and native woodlands that cling to the hillsides.
Today it was great to get involved in all the extra activities so we pond dipped, finding water boatman, pond skaters and mayfly larvae as well as a lovely whirlygig beetle, before heading into the brilliant new yurt where the Staffordshire Bat Group had the tiniest pipestelle bat to show us. There was lots to learn as well from the woodland team at the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership who are working really hard to take care for this special valley.

Then we strolled around the woodland where you can make dens to your heart's content, search for bugs, explore the storytelling circle and see where, very soon, a new aerial walkway will give you the chance to get a bird's eye view of the woodland from the treetops! There's a certain eight year old who just can't wait for that!
I got quite over excited about these marvellous little fairy houses the volunteers have worked so hard to create. They're completely magical and I was totally absorbed in the detail of doorways, window frames, roof tiles and even lanterns and garden swings they'd made. Come nightfall there'll be a wonderful little party going on here!

We could really feel autumn upon us this afternoon, especially with the mist lingering and that dampness in the air that heralds the change of the season. My most favourite moment was when a huge flock of sixty or more goldfinches flew above our heads.

Coombes Valley is a truly special place and free to visit. The RSPB are doing terrific work improving the site and managing the landscape for wildlife and visitors to all get the most out of it. Thanks to all the staff and volunteers we met today who were really friendly and welcoming and helped us find out so much more about our lovely local reserve. We'll be back again really soon,

Where's your favourite wild place to visit?

19 comments:

Sue said...

How Fab Steph, Thank You for sharing I'd love to party with the fairies(tho' my hubby would say i'm already away with them)!!!
Best Wishes
Sue xxx

dottycookie said...

We live about a mile from an RSPB reserve too - it's one of the reasons we moved to this village and is well populated with water birds. We have regularly seen a kingfisher from the main hide. Love the RSPB!

...they call me mommy... said...

So beautiful! :) The fairy houses are delightful...I'm a lurker on your blog and in the USA...we have a botanical gardens near our home that I LOVE but don't get to enough. I need to make an effort!!!

**Anne** said...

What a lovely place for people to visit and explore.
Anne xx

Lisa said...

The fairy village is just so lovely, I bet sparks off the imagination for lots of little ones.
I like the idea of the pond inside the old tyre.
Lisa x

Clare Mansell said...

A lovely post. Places like these are very special and it's so nice that your boys are still at an age to enjoy them.

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...

It looks a great place to visit, Steph. I love those fairy houses, how magical! We love visiting Errwood Hall in the Goyt valley, the kids love making dens in the rhododendrons and paddling in the streams. x

Curlew Country said...

Oh hello Louise!! We totally loved pond dipping so thanks ever so much for all your help. It was busy wasn't it, brilliant though. Thanks ever so much for leaving a message, maybe I'll bump into you next time I'm up there? We were so impressed with everything and everyone was so friendly. Really hope you enjoy your volunteering. Lovely to have met you xx

Leanne Paxton said...

What a gorgeous place. Organisations like the rspb do such amazing work. I love the little fairy houses. It reminds me of a friend of mine. She has two little girls and has made a teeny tiny fairy house behind a false wall in her house. The door is in the skirting boards, and the girls can open it and look inside! It's so fab, and completely mad.
Leanne xx

SandyShoes Cornwall said...

A lovely autumnal post, and your two boys are very handsome I can see that they'll be heart breakers in later years!

I work for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and like the RSPB we love to get people involved, and hands on with nature. This is the first time I've seen fairy houses on a nature reserve though and I think it's completely inspired I love it! Hope you are having a great start to autumn x

Curlew Country said...

Oh Antonia you're so kind! We're big fans of the wildlife trusts too. I remember a fantastic day on the beach at Readymoney Cove a few years ago when we happened on Cornwall Wildlife Trust doing a beach scavenger hunt, beach art comp and other brill activities. It was one of the best days ever. Loved it! I follow you guys on Twitter & FB. Such a fab organisation. What do you do for them? I'd love to work for the Staffs WT xxx

SandyShoes Cornwall said...

I work with the Marketing and Fundraising team, but I started off as a volunteer so I would definitely recommend that you talk to Staffs WT to see if they have volunteer opportunities. It's a great way to get involved and helps you to get to know everyone. I volunteered with the same team I'm working with now, so it doesn't necessarily have to be on the nature reserves. Good luck! Antonia x

Happy Homebird said...

Absolutely love those fairy houses!

Curlew Country said...

Thanks Antonia - I work in Marketing/Comms too, used to do it or CPRE but now for the NHS (crazy!) the RSPB want to share my blog post so offering to write up some pieces for their reserve blog on a voluntary basis. A start I hope! Xx

Jennifer Hill said...

Bit late catching up with blog reading, but this looks a fantastic day! My girls are all teenagers now, but when they were younger we used to love visiting National Trust houses and doing the quizzes. Hands on activities are such fun, aren't they? Jen PS glad I can now comment on your lovely blog!

Gillian said...

This all sounds so much fun. It kind of feels like a perfect autumn activity, and I know my two would love it. Those little fairy houses, too cute! x

helloitsgemma said...

love the RSPB, they do some much brilliant and under valued work. this is looks fantastic, love the fairy houses (of course!).
hope you are well x

The House with the Blue Door said...

Lovely photos of what looks like a great day out :) I absolutely love the fairy houses and am inspired to make one for myself, erm, I mean for wildlife and insects, of course :) x