Remenham – 11 December 2016

The church at Remenham was the starting point of a very enjoyable walk along the Thames towards Hambleden, led by Sally Rankin. It was a beautiful and sunny winter’s afternoon and we still found a few wild plants in flower, such as Hogweed and White Dead-Nettle. Other plants were still recognisable from their fruits, such as Canadian Fleabane, Sticky Mouse-ear, Yarrow, Gypsywort, Ribwort Plantain, Dandelion and Water Figwort. First year Wild Angelica leaves were recognised as such because they were trifoliate and had red nodes. We also saw quite a few species of birds on the Thames such as Swans, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Great Crested Grebes (one adult and two young ones), and we heard the sound of a Tawny Owl. Canada Geese were grazing in the adjacent fields. When we walked passed Temple Island, Sally told us that the Henley Regatta started here. This afternoon quite a few rowers were practising on this stretch of the Thames. Sally also pointed towards ponds on the other side of the River in which local populations of toads release their spawn. When the toads migrate to these ponds in February/March, they have to cross the busy Henley to Marlow Road. They do this at dusk, the time of the rush hour. This has caused many casualties, so there is now a Toad Rescue group. A barrier is placed in the woods and here the toads are picked up and transferred safely to the ponds.

When we continued our walk, we saw several more plants in fruit along the Thames, which included Shephard’s-purse, Black Bryony, Reed, Meadowsweet, Hemp Agrimony, Purple Loosestrife, Perforate St John’s-wort, Bittersweet and Great Willowherb. The Alder catkins for next spring were already visible. There were Mole hills in the grass along the path, a Red Kite flew over and a Cormorant was swimming in the water. When we reached Hambleden Lock, we looked at a Paddle Steamer that had just arrived there. Jolly passengers were outside on deck and they seemed to have been wining and dining downstairs on the boat. After this intermezzo we went back along different paths through the countryside via Aston. Red Dead-nettle was in flower here and Groundsel, Dark Mullein and Mugwort in fruit. We saw a flock of Long-tailed Tits in a tree. The path led back to the churchyard at Remenham, in the neighbourhood of which our cars had been parked.

Report by Renée Grayer

Pictures by Rob Stallard

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