Our first trip out for over a month to a site that I’ve only visited for social and business purposes – never for its natural history. Dave has passed it several times but on this occasion we did the full 13.5km circuit so new ground for both of us.

Passerines were very much in evidence for the first part of the walk, much of which, though definitely not the dam, is well wooded. Dave’s keen ears soon picked up invisible Siskin and Bullfinch but I had no problem with the equally elusive Nuthatches.

Stars of the day were Bank Voles. We had seen one quite well earlier but then this little chap was spotted next to the path.

Bank Vole

It is very unusual to even see a vole but to see one climbing right next to us was extraordinary – and to manage a short video makes for a real red-letter day. Though see later for the effect a Great Northern Diver had on a passing walker.

Not much in the way of wader habitat with the reservoir full to the brim but we saw a couple of Snipe, a Redshank and Lapwings.

Peewit or Green Plover

There are signs all the way around the reservoir forbidding entry to the ‘conservation areas’ most of which feature a lapwing and its alternative names of Pee-wit and Green Plover. In all my life of bird-watching I have never heard anyone use these names – they are universally known as Lapwings.

I’ve been swotting up on fungi courtesy of Peter Marren’s book, Mushrooms (number 1 in the British Wildlife Collection) and I brought home a small sample which produced a blackish spore print and I believe I pinned it down to being of the genus Hypholoma but, fool that I am, I didn’t get a picture.

Later though I took this one.

Unidentified fungus

Which of course I can’t identify as I don’t have the specimen.

Somewhere near Upperfield Farm, Dave spotted one of the Great Northern Divers that we knew were present and a little later on we were able to view it a little closer, only we didn’t, because a passing lady, one half of a husband and wife team, showed an interest in what had attracted our attention and she was more than delighted to observe the diver through my modest telescope. She said we had made her day, asked appropriate questions about its plumage, declared that she had wanted to see this wonderful bird since reading Swallows and Amazons, and thanking us profusely for fulfilling her wishes, declared that her dream had come true. I think she was going a bit over the top when she revived how momentous the event was, as she decided we had made her decade and I told her so. Nevertheless, it cheered us up to realise we had worked such magic, as she sprinted off up the hill to catch her other half who clearly had never read Arthur Ransome’s classic or at least had not been so affected by it: I tried reading it as an adult and I couldn’t understand the nautical terminology – and that was after spending 18 months on a trawler!

It was a long walk by my standards and when we both needed a rest we magicked up a little accommodation though Dave grabbed the armchair.

Wooden it be nice

A Goldcrest accompanied us for some of the way.