During nature wanderings in the last couple of weeks I finally discovered the hidden oasis that is Ladybelt, 21 hectares of reclaimed gravel and sand workings . The site is only a few miles from Hethersett at Ketteringham but has eluded me for years and looks from the road like a private drive to a gravel works which of course it still is in part.
The carpark to the site is set in a predominantly pine wood and was ringing with the calls of coal tits despite it being the quiet part of the birding year. I imagine it would be very noisy in spring. The wood is full of bat and bird boxes and on my first evening visit it was not difficult to spot pipistrelle bats hunting through the trees.
One of the most obvious birds at this time of year as I entered the 14 hectares of open grassland was the green woodpeckers which clearly thrive and called and flew backwards and forwards with their characteristic bounding flight. In summer the signage promises singing skylarks but the only obvious singers were a few wren and robins and a delightful flock of linnet. Having checked the collective name for a group of linnets it is apparently a parcel of linnets so I will probably stick to a small flock.
At the far end of the park is a wooded area which is home to an old but lovingly refurbished Ice house. Presumably this once had a job to do for a local manor but I could not find anything out about its history. The area around it was full of blue and great tits and the occasional crow and woodpigeon. During the winter the cool dark recesses of the ice house provide a hibernation spot for Daubenton’s bats.
Working our way back across the meadows we were treated to a group of house martins (collective noun a circlage) and swallows (collective noun a kettle) wheeling around the quarry buildings. They were joined by a couple of swifts which I thought would be the last I would see this year, however three more appeared over the village on the 24th which is very late but again a delight as a late summer spectacle. Also on the meadow was a ghost butterfly which delighted my young companion as it fluttered in front of us in the evening light.
Our walk ended whilst still light with the call of tawny owls from the woods heralding the onset of Autumn and their breeding season. I had intended to bring the first ever aerial video of the park as a climax to this post however it turns out that flying a drone is not that easy and turning the video on even more tricky for the novice pilot so instead I leave you with photo of a suitably unimpressed tawny owl.