> Guided River Walk Report

It’s funny. The last report I wrote for Nature Watch Corfe Mullen in July (just after the Nightjar & Glowworm Walk) started with me worrying about the weather. No changes there then! The Guided River Walk along the Stour at Bear Mead looked like it was going to be a complete washout. More “river” than “walk”…

The Entrance to Bear Mead
with John’s hastily made sign

On Friday (the day before) the weather was REALLY atrocious. All day long the rain pelted down in hard straight lines. My garden pond overflowed, the trees groaned in the wind and fallen leaves whooshed around as if caught up in some kind of mini-tornado. I was not happy!

Saturday arrived. I was up at 6am gloomily staring out of the window at the grey overcast sky. By 9am it was raining again. No one would turn up for a walk in this weather.

I set off from the house at 9.40am (still raining) and met my wildlife-watching friend Jo and her grandson Connor outside the Co-op in Corfe Mullen. Dressed from head to toe in waterproofs and wearing wellies, we strode off in the direction of Bear Mead and the River Stour. No turning back now.

People arriving for the walk – notice the BIG puddles!

To my total amazement people were already arriving when we reached the entrance to Bear Mead. I stood at the gate and directed people down the bridleway to where I hoped Amanda Cooke and Sarah Williams (Dorset Wildlife Trust) and John Palmer (the owner of Bear Mead) were already waiting to meet them.

The rain stopped! I made my way to meet the others and, after a few introductions and a quick safety briefing, we set off towards the river – all 43 of us! Yes, 43… fantastic! I’d expected about 5!

Along the way Sarah Williams spoke to everyone about the ecology of the river, it’s importance to otters and water voles, and how the river is affected by rainfall (good one Sarah… very apt in the circumstances!).

Sarah (DWT) tells us about otters & water voles

As we made our way along the river bank a roe deer made a dash for it across one of the fields, disappearing through a hedge. I think most people saw it; at least I hope they did. There was a lot of pointing and ooo’ing and ahhh’ing.

A couple of people thought they saw an otter… disappearing under the water on the far bank. I hope it was. No reason why it wasn’t they are found all the way along this stretch of river.

Some of the kids found moths, grasshoppers and fungi and we all had a good munch on the blackberries as we returned to our starting point via the hedgerows.

Connor shows off his mushroom find!

My thanks have to go to everyone who turned up for the walk. I really hope you enjoyed it. Also, thank you to Amanda Cooke, Sarah Williams, Nicky Hoar and John Palmer for helping to make it all happen.

All in all it was a great morning. Who cares if it rained a bit? As someone said to me as we walked back “we’re British, you just have to get on with it”. I agree. I’m glad we “got on with it” I will certainly be asking John if we can come again next year and “get on with it” some more!

By Jane Adams
Nature Watch Corfe Mullen

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4 thoughts on “> Guided River Walk Report

  1. It was lovely to see so many ‘Corfers’ at Bear Mead. The swan family of 6 cygnets are now flying but are still with Mum and Dad.
    Number 7 was lost in the near flood of 10 July and never returned.
    The 26 willows planted in 2005 (in honour of our Test win over the Aussies) are growing like mad. The big interest this winter will be the Old Mill Stream, restored last year from a silted ditch to flowing water when the river is high. Old maps show there was a mill with waterwheel here in 1800, called Gillingham’s Mill (but none of the experts has heard of it). The running water has encouraged all kinds of water-loving plants to grow in the mud, we need an expert to name them. New otter prints are seen by me almost every day, but I’ve never seen an otter (not enough patience?). There are 2 resident Little egrets and 3 grey herons, all still rather nervous of me. The second commonest fish found in the Fish Survey this year was brown trout. This time of year we often have very fine sunsets, but I still haven’t spotted any Noctilucent Clouds. I talked to the previous owner of Bear Mead recently, he said he had never noticed the Monolith of Purbeck Stone (1,000 kg) which I managed to raise in August to the vertical. Underneath I found old wire used in the Inclosures of 1815.

  2. Hi John. Thanks so much for the update – really informative! I really must come down and do a proper otter survey. It sounds like they are visiting you on a regular basis. Really interesting regarding the monolith having the old wire underneath. Thanks for your comment! Jane

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