Ian Esland led a walk which started from the Sun Inn at Whitchurch Hill on the cool, bright morning of Wednesday 16 March. The route started out along footpaths to Path Hill. Red and White Dead-nettles and Celandines were in flower beside the path and Blackthorn blossom was just beginning to appear. Continuing through Hardwick Woods, Spurge-laurel was seen in flower and there was a clump of Butcher’s-broom with red berries, greenish-white flowers and a visiting 7-Spot Ladybird. The brick structure and tunnel into the walls of a deep chalk pit were later confirmed to be part of a former ice house. A Goldcrest was calling, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming and a Green Woodpecker flew up. Coltsfoots were in flower beside the track at the back of Hardwick House.
The walk continued up a steep grassy hillside with splendid views back across the Thames Valley towards Reading. Several clumps of Mistletoe were growing at eye height on a small Hawthorn bush. The path then led into woodland, where there were a scattering of Bluebells, Primroses and Wood Anemones and abundant Wild Garlic leaves. Towards the end of the walk, the group watched 3 Lapwings perform their tumbling display flight in a field next to the path. The walk was followed by an excellent lunch and delicious puddings at the Sun Inn.
Pictures by Rob Stallard