Softly Softly Catchee Monkey

I’ll tell you now, we didn’t catch a Monkey but we tried. Today I took my lean, mean, walking machine to the woods.

FizzWe are not going to any old wood. The woods that we were in on our last walk were very nice. English woodland, mostly Oak with some Beech. Very nice but my eyes see managed for timber production. The trees are all the same age, they are closely spaced and there is no significant dead wood, still it’s a nice place to walk.

Today we are visiting a cathedral. You have to walk with reverence around this place. It is beautiful. (but there are no Monkeys)

RSPB NagsheadNagshead is a 1250 acre nature reserve in the Forest of Dean. It is a collaboration between the Forestry Commission and the RSPB. I don’t know exactly where the FC come into it, there is no evidence of their management but I think that they might own the land and have agreed not to mess it up. (Which is very nice of them and I am grateful). Anyway they are not messing it up.

More than half of the reserve is nineteenth century Oak woodland. There are two ponds with viewing hides and quite a large meadow. There are also good, sign posted, trails around the reserve, a long and a short one.

The reserve is managed by the RSPB for birds obviously but it is just as well known for it’s butterflies and dragonflies. Boar and Fallow Deer also wander about the reserve but we didn’t see any today.

The RSPB understand that birds eat insects and so to create a habitat for birds you have to start with a habitat for insects. There is a lot of dead wood here. Whole trees lie on the floor and there are also dead trees standing. There is a lot of life in dead wood and it is very important.

RSPB Nagshead

RSPB Nagshead

RSPB Nagshead

RSPB Nagshead

RSPB Nagshead

RSPB Nagshead

RSPB NagsheadWe have been here about six times this year and the one thing that I have never photographed here is birds. I did take a few pictures today but the light was too poor. Part of the reason though is that just across the road from this reserve is Cannop ponds and that is brilliant for birds and just as well managed but with more water.

RSPB NagsheadFizz wants to go to the ponds. They have a very nice picnic area and she wants to eat. I don’t really want to go there because we have been walking for three hours, it will take at least two more to get home and the ponds can easily add hours to your day.

Eventually I gave in but just to go to the picnic area, no looking at birds.

Coot

Coot

Coot

Coot

Coot

Coot

CootOne Coot. Coots are irresistible. It was in the way, I had to shoot it to get past and then Fizz got her sandwiches.

I will just show you quickly a few images of the ponds then we have to go.

Cannop Ponds

Cannop Ponds

Cannop Ponds

Cannop PondsAt the top of the ponds there is another nature reserve, that one is wetland and marsh, we just don’t have time today. I wasted the time creeping about in the forest looking for big game, that was what I really wanted but not today.

When I started walking Fizz at the beginning of the year she was absolute rubbish on these long walks.

She was about three years old and had a huge garden to play in but she didn’t get walked regularly and dogs need that. She didn’t have her own lead and she didn’t have any idea how to play ball, it took a while to teach her that.

When it came to walking home she was like a little child. She would throw herself on the floor and try and convince me that she couldn’t go on.

Dead DogI need a carry!

Dead DogYou could drag me.

Dead DogThat was six months ago. Today at the end of a six hour walk she was as full of life as when we started.

FizzIt is really nice to see the difference that six months of basic training has had on her. I, on the other hand, have not got any fitter and I still feel whacked at the end of a long hike.

FizzShe has started calling me “Limpy Old Man.” As in, “Come on, limpy old man.” It’s a term of endearment, I think πŸ™‚

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26 thoughts on “Softly Softly Catchee Monkey”

  1. I know you’re not fond of the FC, but I’m not the RSPBs biggest fan. Once I used to do talks for them and raise funds, but after a while I became disillusioned by their PC attitudes and constant campaigning.

    Like any big institution they make a few mistakes, in Cornwall the focus on getting Bitterns at Marazion Marsh was so narrow minded it actually harmed the other species.

    They do have lots of good reserves, and great staff, but when they nominated Kate Humble as the face of the organisation I resigned.

    They seem to become obsessed with numbers, and their organisation more than birds.

    I recently rejoined after a lecture from a surly volunteer who asked me how much I wanted to pay, and then trying to tell me what would be appropriate.

    They get 10 out of 10 for the reserves, but the quarterly magazine is not as good as it was.

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    1. Thanks Stephen that was very interesting. I had a similar spat with Butterfly Conservation who were promoting the restoration of Sweet Chestnut Coppice to provide habitat for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary. In the process they were removing all of the woodland edge honeysuckle. We never had any PBF’s down there or any significant quantity of violets but we did have a thriving colony of White Admirals.
      The thing is though that these organisations are trying to do their best, even if they sometimes get it wrong. RSPB reserves are generally very well managed for conservation.
      Despite the fact that many species are protected by law there are no surveys done prior to granting a felling licence. If a species is not already recorded in that area then just get it done quickly and no one will be any the wiser. Surveying for bats, reptiles, Dormice etc. takes time and costs money and licences are granted in days. Even in areas were there is a strong likelihood that protected species would be present. Give me the conservationist approach any day.
      I do know that they sometimes make mistakes but at least they are trying.
      Thank you for that comment πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you Eliza πŸ™‚ I feel a bit guilty for it but I laughed at her dramatics too. Even then she was really enjoying her walks but now she is fit enough to enjoy them properly. It is so good to witness the change in her.

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  2. This has a special resonance for me. I used to take my late mother to Nagshead. She could walk around fairly well and I would look for Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, maybe a Raven even. It was a wonderful place. One of the few my mother would visit with me when I went birding. Here and Symonds Yat to watch the Peregrines. I have such good memories. Thanks for bringing them back, Colin.

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  3. Another beautiful Tramp…thanks for the great photos and I found Fizz amusing…really just like a small child unwilling to go further.
    I’m happy he has become eager to tramp long distances now.

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    1. Hi, thanks Sandi πŸ™‚ Fizz and I sometimes walk for ten hours but we don’t go very far, a youngster could hike it in three hours. We walk slowly so as not to disturb things and often sit still to listen to the forest. It is just being outside really. It still tires me out πŸ™‚

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      1. Thanks, Colin. I jogged 20 miles a week till I was 56. I never ran for speed and I would never run less than an hour. I love being outdoors, I’ve just gotten lazy. Walking the garbage to the end of the driveway wears me out. I admire you for your love of nature and taking little Fizz with you. Sitting in the woods and meditating is good for the soul. I did that as a kid. Now I sit on the front porch and meditate. Sometimes I walk the dog, but he’s so hard-headed I take him back ome so I can enjoy my walk! Happy Trails!

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  4. I laughed out loud at the photo of Fizz stretched out on the path refusing to walk. That’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do on a few hikes myself πŸ™‚

    … and Nagshead brought back memories for me too – except in my case it was the name of a very popular pub near the university where I went to school. ahhh – good times πŸ™‚

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