As you can tell from this blog, we love Coombes Valley nature reserve - the changing seasons, colours and sounds. Working here helps us get fit - so why not come and join us on a walk and enjoy the rewards of the landscape too?
Walkers are set to enjoy a scenic route thanks to a newly formed partnership between a healthy walk scheme and the reserve.
Walk North Staffordshire will be staging a two-mile walk here at Coombes Valley every month.
The walks will take place on the first Sunday of every month, starting on December 5. There is no need to book a place, just turn up at Coombes Valley visitor centre at 1pm.
The route will cross the reserve's stunning landscape; through woodland, wild meadows and meandering streams. The partnership walks, led by experienced local guides, are free of charge but donations towards the reserve will be gratefully received.
The planned route takes around two hours and the path is steep and uneven in places. As the paths are often muddy at this time of year, sturdy footwear as well as waterproof clothing are advised!
Walk North Staffordshire is funded by NHS North Staffordshire and is one of many projects developed in partnership to help support local communities to become more active and to support healthy lifestyle changes.
Shaun Stanley, WNS coordinator, said: “Gentle walking is recognised as being one of the best forms of exercise. It is a great way to get outdoors, become healthier and meet new people.
We cater for, support and encourage people at all levels of fitness and urge anyone interested in improving their health to come along. It is absolutely free, there is no pressure, just an enjoyable walk which could help you have a fitter future.’’
For more information, please contact Shaun Stanley on 07967662001 or the RSPB’s Coombes Valley team on 01538 384017.
On your walk, keep your eyes peeled...you might be lucky and see a buzzard soaring overhead!
This week I’ve been visiting several schools in Stoke-on-Trent as part of the RSPB’s Bird Friendly Schools project. The project aims to get children interested and excited about birds. It will also make the school grounds more 'bird friendly' as the participating schools get some great resources including a feeder and nest box as well as posters and I.D. charts.
I’ll be visiting the schools again in January to work with the children, introducing six common birds including blue tit, blackbird and robin. Once the children are familiar with those, we’ll go out to the school grounds and hopefully spot some real ones! The data will be sent in and compiled so we have an idea of what birds are visiting school playgrounds. Last year the top three were blackbird, starling and woodpigeon.
If you’ve taken part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, then this is the same idea only in schools!
In April/May I’ll then do a follow up visit, to see what the children remember about our birdwatch in January and to do some activities about adaptation and habitats.
Education is a really important part of the RSPB’s work and at Coombes Valley we have a great education programme. Our fantastic team of field teachers take children out onto the reserve all through the academic year to try pond dipping and mini beast hunting amongst other things. They cater for all ages and educational programmes. For more information about bringing school groups to Coombes see:
It's getting chillier here at Coombes Valley and, as most of the leaves have fallen to the ground, it's much easier to spot birds! As well as lots of activity on our peanut feeders, recent sightings by eagle-eyed volunteers include a green woodpecker down the main track and in the Dexter field, woodcock and our fair share of wintering migrants including redpolls, redwing and fieldfare.
Our cattle will be coming off the reserve this week and returning to their respective farms over winter. The three Dexter cows have been moo-ved onto Belmont pastures, part of our land holding in the Churnet Valley, to join others that have been there for a few weeks. Holly, Lizzie and May made a real impact on the overgrown vegetation, just by being cows! They've been eating and trampling the bracken and saplings and fertilising the ground at the same time. With a bit of extra help from work parties, that area is looking much more like a meadow so hopefully we will see some interesting regrowth and lots of butterflies and insects there in the next few years.
Thanks to Tina Hanak (Group Leader, Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers) for this round-up of today's brilliant work party day. Thanks to all those involved for your hard work and enthusiasm.
Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers returned to Coombes Valley today for a morning of activities and conservation work.
The Wildlife Explorer group (under 11s) thoroughly enjoyed investigating the reserve in autumn - looking at creatures they discovered under logs and in leaf litter and making minibeast sculptures and smelly cocktails. They also collected autumn leaves of many colours and Susie made a great owl collage.
Our Phoenix group, plus some reserve volunteers and members of Macclesfield RSPB local group, tackled a spot of conservation coppicing. Phoenix were also delighted to meet the pair of Dexters who were both very curious as to what was going on in their stomping ground! After a couple of hours hard work clearing birch our taskmaster Heather led the group back to base for a well earned barbecue lunch (actually I think it was Mums and Dads that most needed the break!)
The hardworking Phoenix group
Whilst the sausages were sizzling everyone joined in making the fantastic hibernation hotel: a superb 5 star, multi-storey, invertebrate habitat that will also provide lots of accomodation for hibernating small mammals and amphibians too!
We had a fantastic day and really appreciated the hospitality at the reserve! Perhaps its time to start planning the next one...
Dexter cow Lizzie loved all the attention!
New residential volunteer Duncan and I went for a walk this morning in the very soggy and muddy valley to check on the cows. At the bench which looks into the woodland canopy, Duncan pointed out a flock of redwing flying overhead. The sound of the brook crashing through the bottom of the valley was really impressive. We also heard several bullfinch and long tailed tits.
The best was yet to come as at the end of our walk we stood on the viewing platform and saw a barn owl flying over the meadow...beautiful!