Ten members and Kevin, who we hope will become a driver for us, enjoyed the long awaited sights of Spring on our journey north. We were welcomed at High Batts by Colin Slater, the reserve Chairman. We learned of the site development and management policy and the continuing gravel extraction programme. Colin then guided us around the different areas of the reserve drawing attention to features and answering our questions. The site is managed for nature not for man and nothing leaves the site except by its own volition.
The mildly alkaline soil supports a wealth of plants. Bluebells and Ramsons carpeted the floor in the more enclosed woodland. In the open ride areas the ground was spotted with Primroses, Cowslips, Dog violets, Ground ivy, Crosswort, Barren strawberry and Bugle. Maddie's spotting skills noticed a single stem of Wood stitchwort. Speedwells were well represented on the reserve; common field, slender, ivy leaved, wood and wall being recorded. From the large Bird cherries in magnificent bloom to the "going over" Star of Bethlehem there was so much to see. The gall on Dog Violet leaves is still to be identified
In areas one almost bounced on the cushion of moss, a reminder of how wet the land can be. The ponds were remarkably clear and alive with insect life including Large Red Damselflies mating on the edging plants. Water Horsetail dominated here and Yellow Water lilies were opening . While I botanized a newt and a frog appeared.
A lunch break in the "hotel" hide by the river afforded some of us with an electric blue flash as a Kingfisher flew upstream. From another hide we had close views of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker and of Marsh Tits. 22 other birds were recorded.
In response to the weather six butterfly species were flying: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small White, Speckled Wood, and a single Comma spotted by Colin.
Great interest was shown and many photographs taken of the Common Morel fungus. This was new to most of us, even to John, and something which returns annually to its particular area of the reserve. The moral here is don't shun new places!(Sorry)
High Batts is a hidden gem. We saw so much and are aware of more to be seen, so watch for a further visit on a future programme. Many thanks to Colin for generously giving of his time and expertise, to Steve for the initial suggestion and to Julia for driving.
See photos here.