Friday, 19 February 2016

A Land Of Springs And Little Rivers

Around here we call almost any watercourse a river. If you can step across it then it'll be a ditch, otherwise it will have the grandeur and distinction of riverhood. They may be baby rivers but they're rivers nevertheless.

I leaned the bike against the fence to photograph this farm pond at Shepreth - the place of sheep. And there are still some sheep to be found around the village.

Just across the road is the little River Shep, just a couple of yards wide and not very long either. It rises from springs in a strange nook of land between the villages of Melbourn (the mill on the stream) and Fowlmere (the mere of the birds).

These days the mere of the birds is a nature reserve, RSPB Fowlmere, though it has had other uses in the past and may have once been seen as less charming - an old document records it as Foul Mere ! Lets park the bike and have a wander around.

The shallow mere and the reedbeds surrounding it are a magnet for birds, mostly fairly common ones though you never know what might turn up. In the past this area was used to produce watercress. Springs bubble up here in many places making it ideal for wildlife.

The warden and volunteers have recently cleared and opened up many of the ponds and streams around the reserve. Robins and Blackbirds were singing in the bushes and close by I heard the pig-like squeal of the elusive Water Rail, a secretive bird of the reedbeds.

The Water Rails are here all the time, though you don't usually see them unless the mere freezes up when they become a bit reckless and venture from cover. Other birds like Marsh Harriers and Bitterns turn up from time to time.

This wet land is ideal for alder trees which provide food in winter for flocks of small birds including Siskins and Redpolls.

The clear streams are home to many small fish, at least until the Kingfisher finds them!

Some of the birds spotted today:
Wigeon, Teal, Snipe, Greylag Geese (noisy things!), Green Woodpecker, Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Siskin, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Barn Owl.....
I also saw some Fallow and Muntjac Deer.

Oh, and Mallards of course! But the sun was declining in the west so I climbed back on the bike and headed for home.

Take care.


  1. What a brilliant place to spend an afternoon. Great collection of photos.

  2. Glorious and not so far from home! Wonderful!

    Enjoy the weekend. I wish you fair weather for more adventures.

  3. We have many small named rivers in Notts, tributaries of tributaries. Some of the smallest ones still hold some very large fish, I'm told.

  4. Mallards are really beautiful

  5. My kind of place to walk about and explore. Lovely.

  6. What a beautiful, sunny day for a bike ride and a walk. Love seeing the river and the ducks.

  7. Another spot dear to my heart----wild places and birds! All the photos are lovely, but the stones with water flowing over them is really special and the sun setting behind the glowing grass is so nice.

  8. Another lot of interesting photographs and a lovely walk round with you John. We live near to the River Bain, which at one mile long is reported to be the shortest river in the country. Sounds as though it has rivals around you.

  9. What a lovely place to spend a few hours. Your last shot is great!

  10. Oh, wow, I did enjoy this series. Loved them all, but especially 1st, 3rd, and last.

  11. Looks like a very interesting place to explore!

  12. I would love to spend some time there. We are right now a land of many new Lakes and rivers too---Spring Rains---too much.

  13. thank you for taking us along. what an great spot. we have a love preserve near us, with great bird watching and abundant wild life.

  14. I think this is wonderful river. Many different places, but anyway, this is real river.
    Very lovely photos and there looks so spring style..

  15. I particularly enjoyed your walk as I am tied to the computer and meant to be working. I've never seen a Siskin and to see a Barn owl too, well I am envious!


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