Trip reports

Loose Valley (Leader Robin Smith)

Loose Valley (Leader Robin Smith)
Lesser redpoll [Richard Hanman]

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

An ideal day with cerulean blue sky and a crisp nip in the air greeted the 12 members as they joined me for a stroll through the Loose Valley. Alas the lesser redpolls promised in the programme have long since deserted me. Perhaps later this year they will return again to light up my garden on the huge nyjer feeder I purchased for them several years ago.

The walk got off to a fabulous start with a grey wagtail paddling in the shallow Loose Stream oblivious to the fact that 26 eyes were observing it from a couple of metres away. A few moments later those same 26 eyes were treated to a long and protracted view of a kingfisher perched on a plant container on the stream edge. Seeing it through a telescope revealed it to be a female with a prominent red lower mandible. It occasionally plunged into the water but didn't appear to catch anything before returning to the same perching spot. After several minutes we were satiated with these fine views and we moved on leaving her to continue fishing undisturbed. A little grebe was present and continually dived out of sight in what I assumed was only a few centimetres of water.

After passing the ancient yew tree* we ambled into the church graveyard and the conifers there produced many goldcrests, in fact throughout the walk it was teeming with these tiny little jewels. The hot dry summer must have suited their breeding regime. Several redwings were in evidence eating the berries. From this vantage point we observed the pig seat at the top of the opposite field. This is a large tree trunk carved into the shape of a stylised pig**

As we wandered through the valley, we picked up little egret, green woodpecker and a buzzard being mobbed by some carrion crows.

A figure of eight walk ended up in Bockingford village (where the watercolour paper of the same name originated) by which time we decided to dispense with walking down into Tovil and instead headed up Corkscrew Hill and back home.

I got the impression that most of the members enjoyed the walk around Loose village and down into the valley conservation area. I have perhaps become a bit blasé about seeing the kingfishers on the Loose Stream as they are virtually guaranteed on every visit, so it was nice that they put in an appearance for the group to see.

Robin Smith

*It was recorded in the Doomsday Book so must have been reasonably large even then. It is considered to one of the oldest in the country.
**Loose gets its name from an old English word Hlose meaning 'place of the pigs'