Chris Bucke found a brief window of good weather on the morning of Saturday 15th December for a circular walk in the valley of the Thames below Henley. The walk started from the car park at Mill End, crossed a very full River Thames at Hambleden Weir, then followed the Thames Path in a south-easterly direction. Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks and a single Dabchick were seen here. The path turned away from the river and went through a small patch of wet woodland. A Song Thrush was disturbed from the undergrowth and a Red Kite perched on a branch above the side of the track. The route followed the lanes through Aston, then turned onto a footpath which climbed westwards out of the village. The flint wall at the start of the path was covered in lichens. Views opened up across the Thames and over to the Chilterns beyond. A female Kestrel was perched on a wire, before flying off. Yellowish clumps of Mistletoe could be seen in some of the big trees on the other side of the river. A few plants were still in flower, including Dandelion, Pineappleweed, Groundsel, Daisy, Shepherd’s-purse and White Dead-nettle. The walk continued across the fields, skirted the edge of Remenham Wood and then dropped back down towards the river. A number of Cormorants were roosting on trees above the water, a Buzzard was circling above the far bank and a few Egyptian Geese were seen. About 30 Ring-necked Parakeets were roosting and feeding in an ivy-covered hedge. Back at Hambleden Weir, a Common Gull was standing on a mooring post, with its greenish-yellow legs and bill distinguishing it from the Black-headed Gulls on the adjacent posts, which had red legs and bills. The final sighting was a Sparrowhawk, which flew overhead.
Pictures by Rob Stallard, Laurie Haseler and Jan Haseler