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Loddon Valley – 19 October 2016

On Wednesday 19th October Renée Grayer led a walk along the River Loddon from the George Inn at Woodley to Sandford Lake and Lavell’s Lake in Winnersh. The sun had just come out when we started the walk on the south-east side of the river. We followed this path until we reached a pedestrian bridge, which we crossed, as the path here on the north-west side is better and less muddy. Through a gate we entered a field grazed by cows. Knapweed and Fleabane plants in fruit suggested that this field will be full of flowers in the summer. Another gate and bridge led us back to the Loddon. Along this stretch of the river we saw and smelled many plants of the invasive Indian Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), still in flower and apparently not pulled out here. We also saw the big spiky fruits of Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum) on the edge of the water. On our right-hand side was White Swan Lake on which white (Mute) Swans were swimming indeed and also a Great Crested Grebe. After crossing Sandford Lane to the Lavell’s Lake area, one of the members led us to a site where she had recently observed the unusual Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria), a rare alien plant. There were three specimens showing fruits and red buds, but unfortunately no flowers. After crossing the road we approached Lavell’s Lake, where three Red Admirals were flying between the hedgerows full of Brambles. Here and there were Spindle trees with beautiful pink berries, some of which had opened showing their orange seeds, a strange colour combination with the pink. Water Mint and Purple-Loosestrife were in fruit along Lavell’s Lake and Bristly Ox-tongue was still in flower. Looking from the hide we saw a Lapwing, many Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, Pochards, Canada Geese, Coots, Snipes and a Heron. On the way back, a Cormorant was drying its wings on an island in Sandford Lake. Along the Loddon was a stand of Bulrush (Typha latifolia) in fruit, and the hedgerow showed two pretty Hedge Bindweed flowers, white with pink stripes. In the grassy edge of the path were some Water Chickweed plants (Myosoton aquaticum) still fully in flower. We were now close to our starting point and on our return had lunch in the George Inn.

Report by Renée Grayer