With the weather forecast looking to turn later on the weekend, Bev and I decided to make the most of the sunshine and do a walk at Devil's Spittleful/Rifle Range Reserve. This area of lowland heath is split into two reserves the Devil's Spittleful which is owned and managed by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Rifle Range which is owned an managed by Wyre Forest District Council. Jointly they have worked to preserve this wonderful fragment of lowland heath that lies between Kidderminster and Bewdley.
We started our clockwise walk on the Rifle Range side where we encountered good numbers of fruiting bodies of Birch Polypore fungi. A few butterfly species were enjoying this rare moment
of sunshine with 3 Small Coppers, 2 Red Admirals and a Speckled Wood noted on this side. A number of Harebells with their delicate blue flowers were also noted.
Much work has been done on the reserve to clear invasive scrub and reduce numbers of trees to aid the promotion of heather growth. This combined with livestock grazing has, in my opinion, already had a positive effect on preserving this scarce habitat. Although some locals and dog walkers would disagree and moan about such tree felling. All I can say is on this subject is that heathland is a man made habitat that needs protecting and managing in order to preserve and protect the wildlife that is reliable on it. There are many areas of woodland in the county (especially dense Silver Birch woods thanks to the Harris Brush company) but few areas of heath land. It is a worthy trade off to remove some of the trees in these areas in order to protect it for the future. There are still selected stands of mature trees present on the reserve which our avian friends are using.
On the Devil's Spittleful stretch we encountered more fungi in the shape of Parasol Mushroom and Common Earthball. 2 Small Heath butterflies were noted as were 3 more Red Admirals and 2 Small Coppers. A single mature ♀ Common Darter dragonfly was also observed.
Birds of interest today included 1♀ Sparrowhawk, 1 ♂ Kestrel and 5 Jays.
The reserve runs alongside the Severn Valley steam railway and it really adds to the atmosphere when a steam locomotive comes chugging past. We sat and ate our lunch whilst one such train went by and it really felt like you had been transported back to a different age.
Locomotive No. 34053 - "Sir Keith Park"