As snow was falling in Rochdale and temperatures hovered around 0 degrees, members of the Rochdale Field Naturalists Society headed East in the hope of the better weather, that had been forecast, to the nature reserve of Potteric Carr.
Potteric Carr is the flagship of over 80 reserves managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust located on the outskirts of Doncaster. There are approximately 7 miles of trails and 13 hides spread over an area of 50 acres of open water, reedbeds, scrapes, woodland, marsh and small meadows, all of which create a wide diversity of wildlife, suiting all aspects of National History interest.
On arrival the group of 24 were treated to their first bird sighting of the day as a large flock of Long-tailed Tits flew over the car park.
The Reserve now has a new Visitor Centre, only opened twelve months ago and a few of the members relaxed in the Café area before wandering out on to the reserve. The remainder of the group set off in different directions to explore the various habitats and due to its large expanse were able to collectively cover most of the reserve, meeting up along the trails, sharing information of what they’d seen where and when.
Unfortunately, as there had been a very heavy frost the night before the visit, a lot of the areas of water were frozen but as the sun broke through, species of water birds were seen to include Pochard, Tufted Duck. Shoveler, Little Grebe, Teal, Gadwall, taking advantage of the thawed areas. A Whooper Swan was also quite at home feeding alongside the Mute Swans. A Snipe was seen busying itself feeding on a muddy area. A lone Dunlin was spotted on the Huxter Well Marsh area with several Gulls, Cormorants, Little Egrets and Grey Herons for companions whilst a Marsh Harrier hovered overhead looking for a tasty meal and Long- tailed Tits and Bearded Reedlings chased each other through the Reeds. A special treat was a female Reed Bunting that stayed for a long time feeding on all the delicious seed heads that the reeds are providing at this time of year.
The woodland areas provided sightings of Bullfinch, Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Fieldfare and Redwing all busy foraging for food. Flocks of Siskin were spotted high up in the canopy feeding on Alder and Stonechats were also busy in the Meadows.
The woodland also provided sightings of Roe Deer creeping along in the undergrowth and several species of fungi to include, Birch Polypore, Hoof fungus, Candle Snuff, Jelly Ear, Blushing Bracket, Cramp Ball, Turkey Tail and Ganoderma.
Surprisingly in spite of the very cold weather there were several examples of Flora to include, Ferns, Gorse, Red Campion and an abundance of Old Man’s Beard seed heads. Even Flag Iris was showing early growth in small pools.
Unfortunately, there were no sightings of the Bittern that had been recorded through the week but a special treat to end the day was as members headed for the Café for a much needed hot drink, to be surrounded by a very large charm of Goldfinches all calling in wonderful unison of song, drowning out any other noises of traffic etc around.