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Saturday 18th October 2008
Newdigate brickworks nature reserve

After a very heavy week's work I was far too tired for a long walk, so instead we had a small exploration of the nature reserve at the old brickworks at Newdigate, before strolling on to an open day of the Surrey Barn Weavers to see how to spin wool and weave it.
The last time we came to the brickworks was as trespassers years ago when it was still private land. That time we got in via a hole in the fence. Now it is a welcoming reserve that contains two lakes, one of which has an island and a wooden jetty and a smaller one that is more overgrown and secluded. We watched a kingfisher on the edge of the main lake as it repeatedly dived into the water to catch fish. We also found a hornets nest in a hole in a Sweet Chestnut tree (Castanea sativa). We stood as close as we could with these large tawny and yellow insects flying around us, but they seemed very peaceful and only got upset when another insect came close to the nest entrance. We mentioned the hornets to the elderly couple at Horsielands Farm who sold us some Surrey honey (Oh yes, we had stepped over the border once again). They told us that hornets (which often raid bee's nests) cannot fold their wings like bees, so the small entrance hole to the farmers bee hives stops them from getting in.
The weavers open day was really interesting, particularly their store cupboard which was full of fascinating old wooden tools and contraptions. Weaving seems to be a very difficult, complicated affair that takes an eternity to set up before you even get round to doing any weaving. It looks like there would be a lot of swearing involved too.

We parked at St Peter's church which was being decorated for a wedding

Common puffballs in the churchyard

A perfect autumn day on the reserve

The main lake at the reserve. It was teeming with fish and we could clearly see schools of rudd.

Here is the smaller lake, the fringes of which were full of birds.

A trooping funnel (Clitocybe geotropa). It looks scary, but it's actually edible.


A hornets nest that we found in an old Sweet Chestnut