Andrew Bluett and Mike Smart visited the Cinderford Northern Quarter again for the second in a series of site visits and were joined by Colin Twissell (former Amphibian & Reptile Recorder), Ingrid Twissell (current Odonata Recorder), Mervyn Greening (Bird Ringer, Dormouse expert), Simon Glover (Forest of Dean Conservation Officer for Butterfly Conservation) and Derek Foster (Meadows Group and Dean Natural Alliance). (Apologies were received from other invited specialists).
The intention is to carry out a series of visits to the site through the coming months, to add to the wildlife records for the site, to monitor changes both changes through the seasons and as development progresses (assuming that it does so) and to raise awareness of the site and the wildlife that inhabits and uses the area. This was the first of these planned visits.
We again met in front of Steam Mills School at SO 646 159, walked across to the CNQ site and took a route through the grassland area, along the north side of the lake and up to the Northern United Colliery buildings, returning along the west and south sides of the lake.
In spite of the good weather there were no reptiles to be seen but other species’ activity was commensurate with the onset of Spring.
The flooding in the trees just to the west of the Steam Mills road was still deep and widespread, the outflow had reached a point where the track now sat as a barrier preventing further drainage into the brook so that the water will only dissipate once the ground allows for soak-away and the temperature and breezes encourage evaporation.
Butterflies were much in evidence with Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma recorded. Other invertebrates noted were White Tailed Bumble Bee, Gorse Shield Bug and Seven Spot Ladybird. Mammals were absent as is usually the case but Wild Boar and Muntjac had left evidence of their presence on and around the site.
Conversations with fishermen produced a list of species including Common and Mirror Carp, Barbel, Bream, Roach, Tench and Perch occupying the lake. In the water there were a number of Common Toads beginning their mating activity and a number of Freshwater Mussel shells were noted around several of the fishing platforms; clearly something is predating these, removing them from the water and crushing the shells to access the flesh within. Brown Lipped Snails were noted in the grassy areas.
Birds were the most numerous vertebrate taxa in evidence, Siskin, Robin, Long Tailed, Great and Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Jay, Buzzard, Jackdaw, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Meadow Pipit (overhead), Magpie, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, hybrid Duck, Wren, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Hawfinch, Canada Geese, Black Headed, Common and Lesser Black Backed Gulls were all recorded. One of the first of the incoming Spring Migrants was a Chiff Chaff singing strongly.