• A week in the life of Coombes Warden Interns

    This month's blog gives you a behind the scenes look at a typical working week for our hard working volunteer warden interns.

    (Kirsty and Charlotte current Warden Interns c/o Kirsty Forrester)

    Our general week:


    Checks. Each Monday we walk the trails around the two RSPB sites we manage at Coombes Valley and Churnet Valley. We check for litter, infrastructure and hanging branches over trail amongst other…

    • 5 Dec 2017
  • Making a good red-start

    RSPB Coombes Valley and RSPB Churnet Valley are both beautiful woodland reserves in North Staffordshire and are part of the Staffordshire Woods and Moors Futurescape.  The reserves are home to a wealth of wildlife such as the argent & sable moth, pied flycatcher, common redstart, spotted flycatcher and wood warbler. 

    In the UK, woodland birds are in trouble. The latest Breeding Bird Survey from the British Trust for…

    • 7 Nov 2017
  • Hay Day at RSPB Coombes Valley – celebrating National Meadows Day


    Did you know that a single, healthy meadow can be home to over 80 species of wildflowers and a wealth of other wildlife? Sadly, it’s staggering to learn that 97% of our wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s.

    That’s the reason for National Meadows Day, this year held on 1 July. It’s the headline event of Save Our Magnificent Meadows, the UK’s largest partnership project which aims to transform…

    • 27 Jul 2017
  • Ghosts & Dragons

    Stories are told of Coombes Valley that in the deepest, darkest woodland there are ghosts and ghouls. But these are not the only legends of the Valley. There is also another fearsome creature, one that has been in existence for over 250 million years. They are skillful aerial predators that use their barbed legs to catch and kill prey as big as themselves, in mid air! They have the largest eyes in comparison to their body…

    • 28 Jun 2017
  • Blogs and recent sightings

     Due to technical difficulties, we are currently unable to post blogs and update our recent sightings. Please refer to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CoombesValley

    • 18 May 2017
  • Big bug hunt day!

    The past few weeks have been really exciting here at Coombes. Every day something new and exciting seems to have appeared, from the pied flycatchers arriving at the end of April to greater butterfly orchids beginning to make an appearance at the start of this week. In amongst all this excitement we managed to fit in a Big Bug Hunt Day! Lots of families turned up and got stuck in with sweep netting, stream kick sampling…

    • 10 Jun 2016
  • Exciting sightings this April

    It's official, spring has arrived! The summer migrants are BACK and with lots of other wildlife sightings Coombes isn't short of exciting wildlife this time of year. One visitor described Coombes as chiffchaff woods last week, a sure sign of spring! 

    As usual the willow warblers were first to be heard, and seen, on April 15th. Soon after the redstart began making appearances down near Clough Meadow Cottage! Sunday…

    • 20 Apr 2016
  • A stroll through history at the Churnet Valley

    Over the past three months we have been braving the winter weather (we have been very lucky to avoid the rain) to enjoy guided history walks in the Churnet. Led by Byron Machin these walks proved to be very popular!

    There is so much to discover at the Churnet, both the natural and industrial heritage of this part of Staffordshire meant that we were never short on places to visit.  Bellpit meadows, our newly acquired land…

    • 18 Mar 2016
  • Churnet and Bellpit Fungal Foray

    The 8th of November saw the return of Fungal Punk Dave to help us out on our Fungal Foray. The walk took us through the Churnet reserve and up to Bellpit Meadows.  Thank you to everyone that came along, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!  With a total of 96 species there was plenty to discover throughout the walk. One of my favorites was blushing bracket, which we came across a few times as we walked up to Bellpit…

    • 20 Nov 2015
  • A very berry Coombes!

    Just outside the living room window of the intern accommodation here at Coombes there is a bird feeding station! It’s great to sit at the table with my breakfast and watch the great tits, sparrows, great spotted woodpecker and the occasional pheasant milling about the feeders. However, the past few days there has been a distinct lack of birds hanging about in the morning.

    It didn’t take long to work out why. After…

    • 29 Oct 2015
  • Bye for now Coombes!

    It is astonishing how quickly eight months can go by, especially when you’re having a fantastic time, and what a fantastic time I have had at Coombes. This is my last week as Visitor Experience Officer at Coombes Valley and I’m going to really miss the place!

    I have met some fantastic people at Coombes and being immersed in wildlife every day at work really cannot be beaten.  So for my last blog I thought…

    • 26 Oct 2015
  • Hello Coombes!

    So I spent my first day at Coombes exploring the reserve on a long walk around the Woodcock trail. I quickly realised that there’s so much to discover here.  With every minute there was something new and exciting to look at; from the various types of fungi, to the cool spider webs! And for those big kids (and little kids) amongst us, the play trail never stops delivering hidden gems. I was particularly enchanted…

    • 30 Sep 2015
  • Where has the summer gone?

    August: the hottest month of the year, the height of summer. Yeah right. So we may not have had the greatest summer this year (and certainly not at Coombes) but that doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot to appreciate.

    Even in August (the not-so-hottest month of the year) we are already starting to see signs of autumn. The swifts have sadly departed back to their wintering grounds in Africa, south of the Sahara…

    • 31 Aug 2015
  • Big wild sleepout - a great success!

    So our Big Wild Sleepout event was on the 1st August and it did not disappoint! We had around 30 people stomping around the reserve in search of evening and night time critters, toasting marshmallows, playing games and catching moths. Bats even put in an appearance at the end of the night!

    We started with a romp around the reserve where we learnt a bit about some of our night time visitors, including foxes, badgers…

    • 16 Aug 2015
  • Woodlands are wild but they're even wilder at night! BWSO

    The sun begins to set and the woodland – well how can I describe what the woodland does? The woodland begins to buzz. It’s like the whole woodland and all of its creatures takes a collective, excitable intake of breath. Soon, it will be night.

    Coombes Valley Visitor Centre as the night draws in - Coombes Valley images

    Woodlands are wild - wild with all their roaming predators like badgers and foxes, trying…

    • 11 Jul 2015
  • Foamy Fun

    If you’ve spent much time outdoors exploring the woods and the fields at this time of year then you’ve probably come across this foamy substance.

    Cuckoo spit - Chris Calow

    Have you ever actually taken the time to stop and examine it, or wondered what it is and what produces it? I did and the answer is fascinating.

    It is often known as cuckoo spit, a rather misleading name as it is not produced by cuckoos…

    • 27 Jun 2015
  • Dead wood: bringing out the big kid in everyone

    So I am a big kid. I love rock pooling and building sand castles at the beach. If I see a tree with low hanging branches you can bet I’m going to try and climb it (and like most kids and big kids this doesn’t always end well). So you can imagine how much I love the fairy village on our natural play trail. I love it so much that I’ve started to see fairy houses all over the reserve. Most of these come in the…

    • 17 Jun 2015
  • Butterflies Galore

    May is over and the horrible wet and windy weather seems to have gone with it, at least it had until today anyway. So far June has brought beautiful sunny skies and with sunshine come butterflies. The meadows on the reserve are currently chock full of wildflowers, perfect habitat for butterflies.

    Within the last few weeks we’ve had sightings of numerous species including orange-tip, small white, green-veined white, dingy…

    • 13 Jun 2015
  • Deer Decorations

    In the volunteers accommodation here at RSPB Coombes Valley we have a rather unusual decoration. It’s not a shiny trinket or a small porcelain figure on the mantelpiece, it’s an antler, a red deer antler to be exact and a rather impressive specimen it is too.

    The antler from the volunteers accommodation - Chris Calow

    This particular antler has 7 points, or tines. So the stag would have had 14 points in…

    • 30 May 2015
  • You don't need to go far to see wildlife at Coombes

    The woodland is in full song now especially when the sun comes out! With the sun has come some very welcome song and even a couple of sightings of the wood warbler! A bird which is rarely seen on site has been on one of the main visitor trails, close to buzzard bank. Ask at the Visitor Centre for more details.

    A pair of mandarin ducks have been seen a number of times on the Coombes brook and we think they may be nesting…

    • 23 May 2015
  • A day in the life of a volunteer at Coombes: don't you fancy it?

    Ever wondered what it is like to volunteer on an rspb reserve? It is a fantastic way to meet new people, discover wildlife and be more active as Beth, one of our work party volunteers can describe:

    It's a cold and blustery morning for May with a forecast of heavy showers. But we Coombes Valley Volunteers set off cheerily along with resident interns Cara and Ryan seemingly to mend a kissing gate but actually keeping an…

    • 18 May 2015
  • Spring is in full swing!

    The pied flycatchers and redstarts have been back for several weeks now. Thankfully after many days of keen anticipation they have been joined by the third member of our migrant trio. We had our first spotted flycatcher sighting of the year on the 11th of May. This was followed by several more sightings over the next couple of days. So far they have mostly been spotted, no pun intended, down by the pooh sticks bridge, making…

    • 14 May 2015
  • What is this life? Chris' bumbling attempts to identify more wildlife

    “What is this life, if full of care,

    We have no time to stand and stare.”

    These words were committed to paper over 100 years ago by the poet W.H.Davies and are proudly displayed in a quiet and tranquil corner of our reserve. They seem especially apt on a reserve as tranquil and peaceful as this one. I know that I’ve found myself doing a lot of standing and staring since I arrived at Coombes Valley. I’ve…

    • 7 May 2015
  • Moths in abundance and not as boring as you may think!

    Spring has sprung and we’ve had the moth trap out more regularly here at Coombes!

    The days of capturing one lonely early moth, or the exciting day in early march when we caught a grey shouldered knott AND a dotted border, are over.

    Moths are abundant now and we see species like common quaker and the Hebrew character out in large numbers.

    This lovely specimen of the hebrew character below really brought a smile…

    • 27 Apr 2015
  • Scrambled eggs Easter trail and eggcellent feedback

    If you came down to Coombes valley over the Easter holidays you might have noticed a number of painted eggs hidden on the natural play trail. Don’t worry, we hadn’t lost them. They were for our Easter trail, an Easter egg hunt with a difference. I’m struggling to think of a more beautiful setting for an egg hunt; beautiful woodland, meadows alive with insects and the sound of birdsong all around. Clearly I wasn’t the…

    • 22 Apr 2015