Trip reports

Washburn Valley

Washburn Valley
Paul Barrett

Sunday, 27 March 2016

It is nearly three years since our last visit to Lindley Wood in the Washburn Valley with our knowledgeable guides Peter and Ann Riley. On this Easter Saturday, we decided to begin our walk an hour earlier at 9am. While introductions were taking place, we were almost immediately rewarded with the sight of a tree creeper just a few yards away. Fourteen of us began to walk across the bridge next to the reservoir, but the poor weather conditions seemed to have sent all water birds for cover at this point. However, once we had crossed over the stile to walk alongside the reservoir, we found ourselves in the shelter of this beautiful valley.
Three red kites flew very closely overhead as we spotted the ever present mallards and moorhens on the water, as well as a pair of great crested grebes. Peter identified common gulls flying through on their way south and the odd cormorant could be seen.
We were again delighted to hear the distinctive song of the chaff chaff and although it was well camouflaged, we eventually caught glimpses as it flitted about in the woodland to our left. A pair of goldcrests, the first to be sighted in the Washburn valley this year, was also seen.
After listening to the repeating song phrases of a song thrush, the bird was seen perching at the top of a tall tree silhouetted against the skyline. He was still there, singing melodiously on our return, some two hours later!
Further on, as we followed the stream, a pair of grey wagtails appeared, making their way towards Dob Park bridge. These are the largest of the three British wagtails and are the ones most closely associated with water, especially fast running streams. They have been recently added to the Red list, but appear to be doing quite well in this area of the Washburn valley.
As we walked along a magnificent avenue of old oak trees, we again identified Japanese Butterbur, a herbaceous perennial plant, which was in flower. Also known as bog rhubarb, its leaves can grow to an enormous size. Marsh marigolds and katkins reminded us that Spring had begun and long tailed tits were seen flying into the bright yellow gorse bushes on our homeward path.
Only minutes before the end of our walk did we spot a wood pigeon! Just as we returned to our starting point, a dunnock was showing, taking our total of species seen and heard to thirty for the morning.

Red kite, tree creeper, chaffinch, great crested grebe, moorhen, pheasant, carrion crow, mallard, wren, blue tit, robin, common gull, cormorant, blackbird, goldcrest, song thrush, green woodpecker, chaff chaff, grey wagtail, jackdaw, black headed gull, great tit, long tailed tit, great spotted woodpecker, stock dove, curlew, wood pigeon, coal tit, dunnock, rook.