Dippers are water birds that feed on caddis fly larvae, tiny molluscs and fish eggs. They operate along the entire length of the stream. You may hear their high-pitched call and catch site of them speeding along close to the water. They perch on stones and bob before plunging into the water.
Grey wagtails don't plunge into the water like dippers, but flit about chasing insects among the stones. They're easy to see, with their long tails and lemon-yellow underparts.
You'll be lucky to see an otter at Colby, but we know from their droppings or 'spraints' that they pass through the garden on a nightly basis. Look for spraints on stones or along the banks.
Long grass for wildlife
We allow the grass in the meadow to grow tall, only cutting it when everything has set seed. This means that it's rich in wild flowers and butterflies. You'll also discover field mice, voles, frogs and toads.
Whites, blues, coppers, browns: these are the colours of the grassland butterflies you'll see flitting about the meadow in summer.
Reptiles and amphibians
Frogs spawn in the stream, but you'll see them in the damper areas of grassland. We leave a few sheets of tin around the meadow - lift these carefully and see what you find. Toads, voles and maybe even a grass snake might be underneath.
About the woods...
- The valleys above Colby Lodge contain important oak woods
- The oak trees were grown to provide pit props for the coal mines
- They were coppiced, which is why they grow so tall and straight
- Sixty years ago people tried to replace them with conifer trees
- We've reversed this, removing most of the conifers
- Look for honeysuckle, heather, woodrush - signs of ancient woodland
- These woods are full of woodland birds including the rare wood warbler
- The dawn chorus in the high-sided valleys is deafening
Pond-dipping along the stream
Borrow some kit and try pond-dipping for yourself.