Fun times at Old Moor
I wanted to write about our most recent day out at Old Moor RSPB reserve whilst it was fresh in my head. Unfortunately that means trying to blog between ironing, feeding people and suffering kids T.V while I write. Oh and of course sorting out any squabbles that occur! So although it may be fresh in my head, it may be slightly jumbled up as I keep coming and going from my writing. However we had such an amazing day I feel it is only fair to share our experience and encourage others to follow suit.
A change of direction
Ordinarily my main aim when we attend any RSPB reserve is to spot and photograph birds. However, due to other commitments, illness and general 'life' getting in the way we hadn't managed to get the kids out much. (Yes it sounds like I have a pair of dogs! In fact we often refer to our 12 year old as a terrier, give him a pat on the head; the odd treat and let him out for a run and he's happy.)
On this visit to Old Moor we decided to take a different tack, and borrowed the pond dipping gear. As an RSPB member this is free, I think there may be a small charge for hire otherwise.
So off we went with nets, advice, a map of the 4 ponds to dip in, a shallow tray and an information sheet. The last time we attempted this (early spring) we didn't catch much so our expectations were pretty low at this point.
The first pond (we might get a bit Goldilocks here!) was quite small, but we managed to find pond skaters and Giant Pond Snails, which sound a lot grander than they are but nevertheless everyone felt a small sense of achievement. We moved on to a larger pond with a dipping platform allowing you access to reed beds, shallows and some slightly deeper water.
The children began dipping. My husband (clearly not expecting much) hadn't even filled the tray with water when my son shouted with delight "I've caught a fish!" We quickly added water to the tray and gently managed to get the little guy settled in his temporary home so we could take a good look. He was very small and shimmered gold in the sunlight. Two seconds later my son shouts again "I've caught another one!" Quick to cotton on my 7 year old daughter elbowed her way into the prime pond dipping location.
"I've caught something" she shouted immediately, "I've no idea what it is! It's not a fish but it is cute!" We all gathered around to see. Sure enough now in the tray were two beautiful fish and a gorgeous reddy-orange newt tadpole, with super cute ear fronds (no idea what the technical name is for these!) wafting in the water. Less than a minute later and my son had caught a slightly bigger newt tadpole too, and my daughter another fish!
By this point we were all feeling there was a little 'Steve Backshall' about us! We decided to pop the creatures gently back into their original habitat where we watched them swim and dive for cover and we moved on.
The third pond was no less surprising, this time finding not only Giant Pond Snails (which were bigger and more impressive than the initial ones we found) but also some splendidly large Ramshorn Snails too, as well as the odd looking dragonfly lava.
Hop scotching our way back to the largest of the ponds we dipped and came up with some more fish, water boatman and saw damselflies, and some huge dragonflies. It was a super day for pond dipping!
Birds were a little harder to see possibly due to the heat so we headed to the Family Hide where it was cooler. There we spotted, Greylag and Canada Geese, Swans with their Cygnets, Lapwings and a variety of Gulls. After our cool down and a snack we of course then had to spend some time at the play area. The most abundant creatures here were insects, many butterflies - common blues, cabbage whites as well as peacocks, and of course lots of wonderful buzzing bees. We really did manage to see a diverse array of creatures and had a fantastic day out! Thanks Old Moor RSPB!