Colin Dibb led with Fred Taylor as co-leader and Martin Sell who had been specially invited for his bird expertise. Nine others attended including a number of volunteers who had seen the walk details in the newsletter and all completed the 2.5 hour route.
Birds seen or heard included pheasant, song thrush, wren, goldfinch, wood pigeon, swallow, chaffinch, buzzard, blue tit, blackcap, blackbird, greater spotted woodpecker, great tit, garden warbler, chiff chaff, robin, green woodpecker, crow, jackdaw and nuthatch. Notable ‘absentees’ were cuckoo – first heard on 12 April – and red kite. Nuthatches were very quiet in contrast to previous walks when they were numerous and vociferous. A bird box on the left along the Pheasantry and another in the Japanese larches were both occupied by blue tits feeding young.
The hidden valley showed three of its treasures; the common spotted orchid leaves and early stage stems were evident near the seat and in the bottom corner, frequent plants of adderstongue fern were easily seen in the sparse growth of grass. Wild parsnip was showing its basal leaves throughout the valley bottom. Elsewhere, bugle was tending to senesce in the dry conditions but the pink campion was very evident on the higher ground. Common figwort was appearing in the woodland. Yellow pimpernel was found in two locations. The common gromwell was in flower amongst the seed heads from last year. An attempt to find the previously seen star-of-Bethlehem flowers close to the specimen sycamore tree behind the black mulberry bush was not successful.
Butterflies were not seen except for a few ‘whites’ which may have been female orange tips. A rather comatose queen hornet was closely examined.
A placid female roe deer was observed for some time in open ground well to the left of the causeway. Badger latrines were full near the exit from the woodland on the green route.
Colin Dibb 16 May 2011