Every visit I make to Attenborough Nature Reserve is a trip down memory lane. One of my favourite spots is a park bench close to a bird table at the eastern end of the reserve only 200 metres as the crow flies from the house where I spent my first 16 years. As a youngster the ‘gravel pits’ ‘over the lines’ were forbidden territory that we couldn’t resist exploring. Now owned by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust the reserve is very different from its time as working gravel pits but the basic structure of the pathways is substantially unchanged. Near this favourite spot I remember there was a pond where we could often see newts and it was common when fishing with my dad to see water voles and the iconic great crested grebe that is the symbol of ANR today. Below are some images from my visits in February.
I usually put some bits of decaying wood and old mossy branches on the table to give a more natural setting for my pictures. I liberally sprinkle the table with sunflower hearts and then sit and wait, It doesn’t take long for bluetits to fly in and out in a split second with a seed in their beak which they clamp underneath their foot and peck away at the nutritious grain. Great tits and robins make up most of the other visitors but you can usually count on a nuthatch to turn up. Very occasionally a marsh or willow tit will come to the table. I can only recall one such occasion but I didn’t get a picture. Bottom right is a willow tit that I photographed somewhere else in 2016 to complete the quintet of likely visitors to my favourite place,