Despite persistent rain yesterday, this morning was bright and clear. There was definitely a more spring-ish feel to the day. I still want to continue my surveys of the local badger setts but today I decided to venture a little further afield for a change.
Flitwick Moor has been called Bedfordshire’s most important wetland site. I’ve never actually visited it, which is inexcusable since it isn’t very far away. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a nature reserve, comprising woodlands, peat bog and grassland, with the little River Flit adding an extra element. A peculiarity of the site are the springs of iron-rich water – iron oxide gives the streams and pools a vivid orange colour. The water was believed to have health-giving properties and there was once a small but flourishing industry bottling it for sale.
I took Scarlett for a walk. An actual walk, not just in the baby carrier (not all the time, anyway). She’s got the hang of the whole bipedalism thing now and she wants to practice as often as she can. The latest piece of outdoor gear that I bought was a one-piece waterproof suit for her (in green camouflage, no less) so I can now let her roam happily and not worry about her getting muddy when she falls over.
And it was a grand morning to be out for a walk. For once the sun was shining and signs of spring were all around. I heard my first Great Spotted Woodpecker of the year drumming, while a Green Woodpecker yaffled somewhere deep in the woods. Great Tits and Chaffinches chattered among the trees. In a pond by the path were dozens of frogs, with clumps of frogspawn showing what they were doing.
But I must confess that there is another species that I really wanted to find signs of. The moor is home to otters – only a very small population, I believe, but otters nonetheless. Otters are high on my still-not-written-yet list of wildlife ambitions for the year. I’ve seen signs of otters in Wales but I never thought the day would come when I’d have a realistic chance of coming across them in Mid-Bedfordshire. It’s an indication of how far the species has recovered, although they’re not common yet.
I didn’t think I’d see an otter but I kept my eyes open for tracks. The muddy ground along the river was perfect for tracks, but it’s also a popular walking route and was covered in thousands of dog tracks, including a lot from otter-sized terriers, so picking out individual prints was difficult. I can’t claim to have seen any prints or scat that looked ottery, but I had fun looking. I did follow the trail of a badger for a hundred yards or so along the river. This was odd – I wouldn’t have expected to find badgers in such a low-lying and boggy place.
So, no otters but an enjoyable walk in an interesting place. And after all, this was only my first visit. I’ll be back here again, I’m sure.