• Summer migrants back again!

    The first sighting of a pied flycatcher has been reported here at Coombes Valley on Tuesday 14th April. A male was spotted and photographed close to the pond on the woodland valley loop on Thursday. The pied flycatcher was seen competing with blue tits for a nest box which the blue tits have already began building a nest in. Pretty cheeky flycatcher if you ask us! We’re not sure who is going to win that battle but clearly…

    • 18 Apr 2015
  • Trail cam tales

    So, following on from my last blog where I found lots of signs of mammal activity I decided to set up the trail cam I got for my birthday, which I had thus far been unsuccessful with. I placed it near a patch of bare ground surrounded by some trees, near where I had seen signs of mammals foraging. I was finally successful and got this shot of what I think is a red deer:

    Red deer wandering down a path through the reserve…

    • 12 Apr 2015
  • Introducing Chris Calow: our new Visitor Experience Intern!

    My arrival at RSPB Coombes Valley couldn’t have been more delightful. As I walked out onto the reserve on my very first day I almost immediately heard my first chiffchaff of the year, that delightfully familiar and uplifting noise which signals the arrival of spring. Or that’s the theory anyway; as I write this today, the visitor centre feels as though it is close to being blown down by the howling wind and driving rain…

    • 5 Apr 2015
  • What's about at Coombes: what have our visitors been seeing?

    As more and more people are out and about on the reserve, we’ve been asking them what they enjoyed and what they’ve seen around. Wayne Sullivan and his son had a lovely day out and it sounds like they saw and did loads:

    “Hi Katy,

    I had a wonderful day out with my little boy at Coombes Valley today. My little boy really enjoyed the children's den area.

    We saw some lovely birds today like the Blackbird…

    • 1 Apr 2015
  • Exploring Coombes: Mammal tracks and signs

    I love woodlands.

    The more ancient the better as they tend to have increased biodiversity and lots of microhabitats. This means they change character from one place to another and there’s always something new to see each time you go. That is why during my interview for this internship, Coombes Valley was my first choice. Parts of Coombes Valley have been wooded for hundreds of years so are classed as ancient woodland…

    • 20 Mar 2015
  • Spring inklings!!

    So Coombes Valley had its first day of actual spring-like weather last week! Saturday the 7th was a beautiful sunny day and it was great to see so many people jumping at the opportunity to take advantage of it! This got me thinking - it seems like everyone is spotting signs in their gardens or on their local patch. I decided it was about time I enjoyed some of those first spring moments too and decided to explore the…

    • 12 Mar 2015
  • The life of an RSPB Intern: Heather’s Coombes adventure!

    What does your back garden look like?

    Well for the past 6 months I have had an RSPB woodland nature reserve as mine!

    Take a peek at my little slice of the RSPB world...

    Magical snowy woodlands – Heather Watkin

    Living and working on a woodland - it’s the stuff of Disney films isn’t it? Well before you start conjuring up some images of Snow White this is the life of a Coombes Valley RSPB Visitor Intern!…

    • 4 Mar 2015
  • Tree felling: Warden diaries

    Whilst strolling around the young woodland or our extended woodcock trail, you may hear the sounds of petrol engines emanating from the woods.

    Maybe even a slow creaking............. followed by a satisfying crash!!

    These are the sounds of woodland thinning, currently being undertaken here at Coombes Valley.

    Trees in close proximity compete with each other for natural resources, including light, resulting in stunted…

    • 27 Feb 2015
  • Coombes is waking up...

    Walking out onto the reserve this morning I was greeted with the usual chirps and trills of bird song. It is wonderful detecting the first tell-tell signs of spring returning to our gardens, countryside and reserves. However, another sound struck me as I took those first steps onto the reserve; not quite harmonising the chirps and trills were squeals, laughs and cries of delight.

    Hordes of families were making the most…

    • 21 Feb 2015
  • Pond Dipping: It’s a pond life for me!


    I don’t know of any one person who’s tried pond dipping and not loved it.

    In fact I challenge you to not enjoy it!

    That thrill of heading off with a net and bucket in hand with that sense of anticipation and discovery, is one I had nearly forgotten about.  

    However, yesterday a lovely group of visitors came to Coombes Valley and got curious about it. I found them some nets and buckets before marching excitedly…

    • 19 Feb 2015
  • The Coombes Concert - conducted by Heather Watkins?!

    Don’t be fooled by the quietness of our woodland valley in the heart of winter. There is lots of life and as spring nears, the woodland appears to ‘wake’as the birds become vocal again.

    Even now, in snowy February, it is impossible not to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the woods. An early morning walk will see you transported into a concert.

    Just the other morning I went for a stroll…

    • 8 Feb 2015
  • Volunteering at Coombes: What have you got planned for 2015?

    Do you have the right aptitude and enthusiasm?

    Want to build skill and experience to get a paid position with the RSPB?

    We’ve got a wonderful opportunity for an enthusiastic and innovative individual to come and live/ commute daily to Coombes Valley as a Visitor Officer Intern.

    This 6 – 12 month opportunity will help take you to the next level and boost your conservation career to get to where you want…

    • 31 Jan 2015
  • What's about at Coombes: A Wintery Wander


    Our guest blogger Paul tells us about his woodland wonderings through the reserve. If your wondering what's about at Coombes, read on...


    What’s about at Coombes: A Wintery Wander

    Just a quick walk through Coombes Valley to stretch my legs and get some fresh air in my lungs. It’s sometimes hard to motivate yourself to get out of a warm bed on a cold winters day and work off that Christmas turkey! Well…

    • 28 Jan 2015
  • What lies beneath??

    By Madeleine Pashley 

    Its winter! The woodland landscape here at Coombes has surrendered to a mosaic of brown hues and silhouetted branches. Although, at this time of year, nature composes itself in a somewhat concealed and obscure demeanour, don’t let that fool you! There are weird and wild things to be discovered at Coombes Valley.



    Coombes Valley woodland view from the Treetop view point

    By Madeleine …

    • 20 Jan 2015
  • Our Woodland Jewel: A poetic January wonder...

    Semi-ancient woodlands are truly magical places. A simple stroll through will see you transformed into a secret ancient world, crammed with wildlife wonders for you to explore.

    Come with me as we venture through Coombes Valley together on a poetic adventure...


    A Crunchy leafy carpet – Lizzie Ingram


    The crunch of leaves and decaying wood beneath your old muddy boots,

    Wise old oak trees stretching high…

    • 15 Jan 2015
  • Winter flowers get hot!



     Foxglove – David Austin (RSPB-images)                            Dead tree on skyline – Jarrod Sneyd        


    Heather and I went for a catchup and a walk around the reserve yesterday – the light was fading so it was too late to make out any flowers!  I just captured this shape of a dead tree against the skyline – it’s on the Woodcock trail and is a favourite with drumming woodpeckers (though I’ve not heard them…

    • 13 Jan 2015
  • The BBC headlines - and Happy New Year too!

    Sorry for the lack of blogs - the Christmas period and people having the dreaded lurgy has put us out of sorts!

    At Coombes we have a dream.  And it’s all about  .

    So, what does that mean?  Well,   is the term we use to energise us – it helps us to be FOCUSSED and PASSIONATE – and know what the light is at the end of the tunnel. 

    All the time,   is ringing in the ears of the team.  I don’t stop talking about…

    • 9 Jan 2015
  • Wintery Wildlife Tips


    Winter is a beautiful time of year.  With all the fallen leaves, muddy puddles, bare trees and holly berries there is so much natural beauty to draw us outside.

    So what are you waiting for? Wrap up warm and head out for an explore!

     Busy exploring! – David Tipling (RSPB-images)


    Below are some fun Wintery Wildlife tips for you to do this winter...

    Be a detective:

    Muddy paths or snow covered trails are perfect…

    • 20 Dec 2014
  • 'Twelve Coombes wildlife highlights of Christmas'... The Final Countdown!

    The Twelve Coombes wildlife highlights of Christmas!

    Get ready for our final Christmas countdown blog...



    ...four holly trees...

    Holly is a true icon of Christmas. We use it to decorate our homes during winter, but I wonder how many of us actually know why?

    Well there are loads of superstitious reasons. Firstly holly is evergreen so keeps its green spiky leaves all year round. In times past holly was thought to…

    • 20 Dec 2014
  • Twelve Coombes wildlife highlights of Christmas... continued!

    Ready for the second installment of Twelve Coombes wildlife highlights? Here we go...!

    ...eight shrews ashrinking...

    Shrews can’t hibernate. Their small body size, and the fact they need to eat every 2-3 hours, mean they wouldn’t be able to take on big enough fat reserves. So instead they carry on hunting, searching for insects, slugs, snails and earthworms in amongst the leaf litter.

    However, shrews…

    • 16 Dec 2014
  • Twelve Coombes wildlife highlights of Christmas!

    To celebrate the wintery wonderfulness of Coombes we have wrote a series of Christmassy nature facts to get you in the festive spirit.

    Nature is amazing and we were hard pressed to condense it down to just 12 facts. But we think we've cracked it and now we’re bringing you the first countdown installment  to our 12 favourite Coombes wildlife stars of winter.

    Get singing everybody!


    The Twelve Coombes wildlife…

    • 8 Dec 2014
  • Winter tree-tastic treats!

    Trees. Where WOULD we be without them?

    They act like our constant guardians absorbing CO2 to provide us with the clean air we breathe. They quietly sit and watch as generations go by. They can live for hundreds of years, solving their own problems and adapting to the environment around them. I often wonder what a tree could tell us... if only they could talk!

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget to appreciate our trees. From…

    • 3 Dec 2014
  • Coming out to play?

    Think back to your childhood; do you picture a long drizzly Sunday, sat bored indoors on the sofa? No of course you don’t! All the best memories and adventures begin with the great outdoors.

    As a child there is nothing more satisfying than sticking your wellies on and heading out into the big wide outside world. And why shouldn’t you be excited, there is so much to do!

    Natural play is the best way to learn…

    • 27 Nov 2014
  • What’s on the menu ... if you go down to the woods today???!!

    Our mud kitchen at Coombes Valley has won over some more mud-pie seekers! Have a read of SylvaFaes guest blog about her children’s muddy makings...

    Muddy hands – SylvaFae

    Our girls are natural mud magnets, if there’s a puddle to stomp in, a muddy hillside to slide down or mud pies to be made, then our mucky rascals are in their element. Western culture has its four elements: earth, air, water and fire…

    • 13 Nov 2014
  • Fabulous Fungal Foray

    On Sunday 26 October we ran our annual Fungal Foray walk. Lead by the brilliant Fungal Punk Dave our large group of courageous explorers set out from the yurt in the search of fantastic, funky, flamboyant and frankly fantastic fungi.

    The fungi crew! – Lucy Hodson

    With so many sets of eyes scouring the fields, trees and dead logs, we amassed an impressive hoard; 81 species were recorded by Fungal Punk Dave. For…

    • 9 Nov 2014