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What a beautiful winter”s we woke up to. After the grim weather of late, to see a cloud free sunny morning made the decision to go out an easy one. However with the ground soaked to beyond flooding we didn’t want to travel too far or risk anywhere that would be underwater. We hadn’t been to Priory Woods before but the hardcore paths offered some hope of not needing a dinghy.

We parked up at Swan Pool and put a few extra layers on. The only time I had been to Swan Pool the wind was cutting and we didn’t hang around to get back in shelter, this time, properly clothed we could take some time to admire the views and take notice of the wildlife. Straight off we saw a Cormorant fishing for his dinner and a Great Crested Grebe and some Pochard, not a bad start. The entrance to Priory Woods isn’t signposted, well not that I noticed until you get to the gate to go in. Almost immediately you come across the largest of the three main ponds. It was alive with wildfowl, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot,  Mute Swan and more Pochard, the second pond wasn’t as populated busy and the third and smallest pond was empty. This wasn’t a disappointment as there was a mass of activity in the canopy.  We stopped a while and watched the Long Tailed Tits going about their rowdy business, lower down the trees we saw three Nuthatch, a Treecreeper, a Jay and a first for me, a Goldcrest. I actually  laughed with joy at spotting him. For something so small it left a big impression. We stopped to lighten the flask  and then moved back to the little pond, the light was starting to fade, well the sun was just as bright, just a lot lower, casting a golden glow over everything. We stood looking for an elusive visitor rumoured to frequent the pond and there it was. Linda pointed out at him and in a flash the Kingfisher was off, the blue plumage almost neon in the sunlight. We tracked him over to the far side of the pond just as he decided to call time on the demonstration. I watched open mouthed as he flew across the pond and away from view. There was no way this could be topped and we made our way back to the car park feeling on top of the world at the sights we had taken in.

Priory wood is another jewel in the crown of the Black Country and considering the proximity to the M5 is all the more amazing. With so much beauty around us we don’t need to go far to be amongst it.

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