It’s nesting time…

Spring has arrived in the nature reserve and the first swallow in Clara Vale was spotted on Sunday 17th April. Warblers and chiffchaffs can be heard and will continue to arrive over the next few weeks from the Mediterranean and West Africa. It’s a very busy time for the resident and visiting bird population and we want to give them the best chance to raise their young.

Please can you keep dogs on leads and keep to paths in the reserve in the next few months to make sure that we give our visitors a good chance to breed successfully.

Posters are also on the entry gates.

Don’t forget the Woodland Hide

With the Nature Reserve and particularly the bird sanctuary becoming more popular, the Alex West hide in particular can be busy at times. The Committee are aware that sometimes visitors can be a little put off by large numbers of other people and equipment in there. A poster has been put up in the hide to encourage visitors to share the best positions at busy times.

But, don’t forget the Woodland hide. The outlook does not get as much light as the Alex West hide and therefore it is less popular with photographers, yet it offers close-up views of many birds found at the Alex West hide (Kingfishers apart).

Here’s a list of recent sightings from the Woodland hide, situated to the left of the playing field gate:

Blue tit
Great tit
Marsh tit
Long tailed tit
Female black cap
Greater spotted woodpecker
Stock dove
Wood pigeon
Yellow hammer
Tree sparrow
Grey squirrel

The (not so common) Common Crane

There was excitement amonst lucky villagers in early May who spotted a Common Crane flying over the village early one evening. It is very unusual to see one this far north and the first time one has been observed from the village.  Here’ s what the RSPB says:

‘The crane is a huge, graceful, mainly grey bird with long legs, a long neck and drooping, curved tail feathers. Small numbers pass through Britain in spring and autumn, and there is a tiny breeding population in eastern England. Numbers in Europe have declined over the last 300 years because of disturbance, shooting and drainage.’

Although we didn’t get any great photos, here’s a video to give you an idea what all the excitement was about:



Recent visitors to the bird hides in the Reserve might have been treated to a glimpse of this impressive predator, skimming and dodging obstacles at low level, ferociously chasing its prey at high speed.

The agile Sparrowhawk is a handsome bird with distinctive barring across its front and long, thin yellow legs. It is an expert in short fast low level flying over short distances and like other birds of prey will also soar looking for targets. It feeds on smaller birds, mice, frogs and insects.


With thanks to Bill Cowing for capturing these photos of both an adult Sparrowhawk (above  and juvenile Sparrowhawk (below) in the Reserve during March 2016.


Clay Figures Appearing in the Reserve

Sixty children from Crawcrook Emmaville Primary School visited the Clara Vale Nature Reserve on Wednesday 10 February to explore the environment and learn more about textures and colour.

The children visited the bird hide in small groups and saw many birds including a Kingfisher and Heron. In the grassland and woods they spotted spring flowers, catkins and sticky buds.

If you see trees decorated  with clay faces, these were made in the Village Hall during the childrens’ visit. Have a walk through the Reserve and see if you can spot them, along with the other signs of spring!




RSPB Big Birdwatch Results


Thanks to everyone who took part in our 1 hour Birdwatch on 31st January, we’ve submitted our results for the Clara Vale Reserve to the RSPB.

We recorded a total of 19 species from both hides:

Blue Tit
Coal tit
Tree sparrow
Greater Spotted Woodpecker
Great tit
Long tail tit


RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

This annual national event takes place on the weekend of 30th/31st January as people all over the British Isles take part in observing and recording nature for one hour. The RSPB collate the results to provide a snapshot of UK nature.

We will be logging the birds at both hides in the Reserve on Sunday 31st January between 10 and 11am. There will be at least one birdwatching CVCG member on hand at each hide to help with identification, so do come along at 9.45am for a quick run through on how the survey works – you might be surprised at what you see!

You can find out more about this year’s event on the RSPB website.