Shaun, Alan and Maureen, Martin and Carol, Bob and Judy, Bob H and Sue, and Bob P and Sue P met Alan Loweth, who had very kindly agreed to lead us on a guided tour of the Reserve. Alan was an excellent guide, being both expert and enthusiastic. It was interesting to hear of the continuing restoration work which has so transformed the area, which now consists of approximately 450 acres split almost fifty/fifty between woodland and heathland, having previously been largely given over to conifer forest.
Alan explained that there were approximately 50+ dormice resident in the Warren, which make use of some of the many dormice boxes provided, and that the Warren was the only U.K. reserve with such a number.
We had hoped to see adders and grass snakes, but despite Alan checking nearly all the refuges, none were seen.
It wasn’t an ideal day or time of year for birds, but avian highlights were buzzard, kestrel, treecreeper, stonechat, whitethroat, goldfinch, goldcrest, chiffchaff carrying food, grey wagtail and spotted flycatcher. The restored heathland provides ideal conditions for, e.g., nightjars, wood larks and tree pipits.
There were plenty of butterflies about, including green veined white, silver washed fritillary, small blue, red admiral, gatekeeper, small copper, speckled wood, and many meadow browns. Other interesting insect species noted included a spider with its funnel web, a long horned beetle believed to be Strangalia maculata, and a handsome Dor beetle. Dragonflies seen included a fine male Emperor.
Another interesting area once entirely hidden by rhododendron is an old sandstone quarry. The apparent rock face is in fact now just sand; it does offer the possibility of a sand martin bank in the future, once further tree felling and clearance has taken place.
Many thanks to Alan for sharing his time and knowledge so generously.