FIFTEEN Clitheroe Ramblers set off from Hutton, near Preston, on a clear, warm sunny day that belied the time of year and was very welcome.
Exploring an area new to many, they headed south along field paths, crossing the A59 at Mount Pleasant Farm and continuing to Little Hoole. On the early part of the walk a pair of chiffchaffs – the first of the summer visitors– were singing and there was an excellent view of a buzzard soaring above.
Skirting Much Hoole, they arrived at the banks of the River Douglas where the lunch stop was taken in the spring sunshine. There was a good selection of birds on Becconsall Marsh beyond the River Douglas, the most outstanding record was of a Great White Egret, a rare bird in the UK and a member of the heron family.
There were good numbers of shelducks and oyster catchers and a loose flock of 50 swans, too distant to ascertain whether they were Mute or Whooper. Lapwings were back on their breeding territories, skylarks were singing in their aerial display, whilst reed bunting, meadow pipits, teal and Canada geese were also spotted.
The warm sunshine also brought out the first butterflies – two peacocks, and a number of seven spotted ladybirds were found in the grass. A hare raced across in front of the party, and marsh marigolds were the pick of the early spring flowers seen.
After lunch, the party walked north along the river embankment, skirting Little Hoole Marsh, and then joined the Ribble Way for a mile before heading east though Westland farm fields, which were full of sheep with their spring lambs. Following a path beside Longton Brook, a great spotted woodpecker was also heard drumming, before they returned to Hutton. In all it was a walk of 11 miles, led by James Jolly, which had been really enjoyable.