Ian Esland led a walk which started from the car park of Goring Heath Parish Hall at Whitchurch Hill on Wednesday 21st September. The route started out along footpaths and across fields to the top of Whitchurch-on-Thames, then continued north-westwards along the Thames Path towards Hartslock. A Red Admiral butterfly was seen on Ivy blossom, while House Martins and juvenile Swallows flew high overhead and several Chiffchaffs were spotted. Butcher’s-broom, Spurge-laurel, Hart’s-tongue Fern and Wall Lettuce were amongst the sightings along this stretch. Some of the smaller Ash trees beside the path had dead leaves, possibly suffering from Ash Die-back. The route then led steeply up through the bottom field of BBOWT’s Hartslock Reserve. Hawkweed Ox-tongue, Small Scabious, Clustered Bellflower, Marjoram and Wild Basil were all still in flower. Turning back eastwards along the track at the top of the reserve, Buckthorn and Spindle bushes were laden with berries and there were Dark Mullein and Toadflax flowers at the side of the track. A Bullfinch and several Long-tailed Tits were heard. A Beefsteak Fungus was growing out of the side of an oak tree near Coombe End Farm. The next footpath crossed a field where a worn Small Copper butterfly was seen. Further on, several Small White butterflies were visiting flowers in a cottage garden. Back in the car park, there was an enormous bracket fungus, more than a foot wide, at the base of a Douglas Fir. It was later identified as Dyer’s Mazegill Phaeolus schweintzii. The walk was followed by lunch at the Sun Inn.
Pictures by Ken White and Laurie Haseler