In this three-part series we asked the Leica Sport Optics Ambassadors, and some close friend’s of Leica, what their favourite local walk is. Join Leica as we travel across the UK, uncovering new spots to inspire you to get outside and explore with fresh eyes.
Iolo Williams, Leica Sport Optics Ambassador
My favourite local walk is around a fantastic local Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust reserve called Dolydd Hafren. Situated at the confluence of 3 rivers, it has a lovely mix of wet grassland, river shingle, reed-fringed oxbow lakes, seed-rich meadows and scrubby woodland.
The wildlife changes through the seasons. In spring, breeding little-ringed plovers and oystercatchers are joined by yellow wagtails and boxing hares. By summer, hobbies are hunting dragonflies over the shallow pools and in autumn, the seed-rich meadows with their abundance of knapweed, thistles and arable crops, are attracting clouds of finches and buntings.
My favourite season to walk the reserve, however, is winter when wild weather can change the River Severn into a raging torrent and high winds rip the last few leaves from their branches. Flocks of fieldfare and redwing, visitors from Scandinavia, devour the bright red hawthorn berries and small numbers of wigeon and teal settle on the flooded oxbow lakes.
Foxes are regular visitors and the resident otters can often be seen fishing the river. Cormorants, goosanders and little egrets are daily visitors as are sparrowhawk and peregrine, no doubt drawn by the abundance of small birds.
Dolydd Hafren is not a famous reserve, and I’m sure it’s not on many people’s ‘Top 10’, but, armed with my Leica Noctivid binoculars and Apo-Televid telescope, it’s my local piece of wildlife heaven.
Check out the Leica APO-Televid range here.
Find out more about Iolo on his website: iolowilliams.co.uk
Nadeem Perera, Co-Founder of Flock Together and Friend of Leica
Richmond Park forever holds a dear place in my heart not only for the mental anguish it has lifted me from over the past 8 or 9 years (since I discovered it), but also for the beauty of its forest and meadows year round. The landscape, obviously rich in wildlife from badgers to tawny owls, to red kites to frog hunting crows, to red deer, manages to host vast areas completely devoid of people.
I recall spending 7-8 hours at a time exploring along the paths (and beyond) in the park and actively appreciating its value to me. The value derived from the feeling of having left London whilst being maybe a half hour drive from the capital’s busiest airport. The park really is stunning in all conditions but autumn offers great migratory species of bird (a dartford warbler this year) and truly humbling spectacles of the red deer rutting.
The Noctivid 10×42 are an absolute treat. Easy to manoeuvre and they give great clarity when observing the subtle difference between similar looking bird species.
You can buy the NOCTIVID 10×42 here.
Learn more about Nadeem and Flock Together on their Instagram page.
Mya Bambrick, Leica Sport Optics Ambassador
Around a 30-minute drive from my house is RSPB Pulborough Brooks, arguably one of the best nature reserves in the South-East. The reserve is a beautiful mosaic of habitats including wet grassland, woodland, and heathland, with amazing views across the South Downs. The reserve offers a lovely walk which boasts viewpoints over the Brooks, giving you fabulous opportunities to spot an array of wildlife throughout the year.
During the long Summer days, the air is buzzing with insects. Butterflies like the small tortoiseshell and peacock grace the wildflowers, and agile dragonflies like migrant hawkers twist and turn over the large ponds. Hirundines fill the sky and skim acrobatically over the remaining water. However, Winter must be my favourite time to visit. Hundreds of waders, ducks, and geese such as black-tailed godwit, lapwing, shoveler, pintail, and wigeon crowd the flooded grasslands to forage. The honking of geese, whistling of wigeon, crisp leaves underfoot, and chill in the air, offers an intriguing walk which allows you to immerse yourself in nature.
Whatever the weather and light conditions, my Ultravid 8×32 HD-Plus always offer me a sharp, bright, and vibrant view of the wildlife I’m lucky enough to spot.
You can buy the Ultravid 8×32 HD-Plus here.
Find out more about Mya Bambrick on her Twitter account @Myabambrick1
If you go on any of these walks, or if you’d like to share your own local walk, please tag us for a chance to be featured, and #LeicaNatureWalks.