Updated: May 16, 2021
A Lincolnshire gem
Snipe Dales is a tale of two halves, A country park offering a variety of woodland walks and a nature reserve that offers one of the few surviving semi-natural wet valley systems in the UK, but both give amazing views of the southern Lincolnshire Wolds. It is a beautiful place at any time of year but comes alive in the spring when the woods and valleys are alive with the sound of birdsong.
The walks in either are fairly easy going but there are some steep inclines and appropriate footwear should be worn as some parts can be muddy. Also, to note dogs are not allowed in the nature reserve part but are in the Country Park.
My wife and I took a couple of recent walks there at a weekend. On the Sat morning we got there early about 8.30. This I think is the best time, with less people about you are more likely to encounter something on your way around which is exactly what happened to us.
We parked in the Country Park (nature reserve car park closed), but access is available to all parts from here. We decided to walk the nature reserve part as we had not done that before, and it proved to be rewarding. After not very long we encountered a young rabbit at the edge of the path, it stayed for a min before it hopped away through the undergrowth, I jokingly said `what we need now is a Deer crossing the path`, we walked round the corner and there was a Muntjac Deer in a grassy/scrubby area at the side of the path. I think somebody was listening to me! As we walked round, we encountered some more signs of spring with returning summer migrants such as Willow Warblers singing in the treetops, Whitethroats perched on bushes and Chiffchaffs singing from up high. We also spotted some rather late winter migrants with a group of 5 Fieldfare flying over. Other birds seen on the walk include Blue Tit, Robin, Wren Rook and Chaffinch.
On the Sunday morning we arrived much later and there were a lot more people about, but it was warm and sunny, and I thought there might be a chance of Butterflies. I was right, it was perfect conditions for them, we saw several Brimstones (Yellow Butterfly), Orange Tips and my first Speckled Wood of the year. Birds were in full song in the nature reserve with lots of Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. I went off the path into the wood at one point and got lucky when I saw the white backside of a Roe Deer as it scampered off through the trees.
Snipe Dales is a wonderful place and if you have not discovered it, yet I suggest you give it a go and see for yourself just how wonderful the Lincolnshire Wolds really are.
Photos below: Speckled Wood Butterfly, Muntjac Deer, Common Whitethroat and a Great Tit
A Wild-Goose chase in Bedfordshire
Strictly speaking it was not a chase for Wild Geese but a `Twitch` for a rare bird in Biggleswade just down the road from the golf club. A Wild Goose chase is by definition a search for something that is unsuccessful or a waste of time because what you are looking for does not exist or is somewhere else.
Parking in the Dan Albone car park, I then proceeded to walk along the river Ivel and onto Biggleswade Common for a short distance until I could view a flooded gravel pit.
The bird in question was a Savi’s Warbler, a rare bird in the UK and the first time one had ever been seen in Bedfordshire. It frequents reedbed habitat usually with some bushes. On this occasion after waiting/looking for over an hour there was no sight or sound of the bird, maybe it was hiding as it looked like it was about to rain!
However, this little trip was not a complete waste of time. Along the river there were numerous other warbler species that occupy similar habitats to the Savi’s. Reed & Sedge Warblers were all competing for the best spot, a Cuckoo flew over (my first of the year) and landed in a tree very briefly. Sadly, no time for a photo. A single Swift flew over amongst the hundreds of Sand Martins all along the river. Reed Buntings were about too and someone else there spotted a Kingfisher flying along the river. This is a really nice area and the walk along the river Ivel is particularly good in the summer when Dragonflies are about.
Nature is amazing and much joy can be had from the commoner species when out on a walk as well as the odd rarity bringing a bit of excitement every now and again. Being around nature is good for your mental health, giving you a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Both photos below are of a Sedge Warbler, 1st one having an afternoon snack.