Menu Close

Crowsley Park – 19 August 2020

On Wednesday 19 August, Maria Newham organised a circular walk, starting from the Bird in Hand pub at Sonning Common. On a morning of drizzle and light rain, six members set off at 9:45 in a group led by Maria and a second group, led by Jan Haseler, followed half an hour later. The walk started out north-eastwards along the Chiltern Way Extension. The path led downwards through a grassy field which was slowly being taken over by bramble bushes. Red Bartsia and Perforate St John’s-wort were amongst the sightings here. The path then climbed up the other side of the valley across a horse-grazed pasture. Towards the top of the field, there were a few flowering clumps of Common Poppy and White Campion.  The next section of the walk was along quiet lanes past attractive cottages at Crowsley. Several plants of Nettle-leaved Bell-flower were in flower on the verge at the side of the road. Impressive metal gates, with a small side gate for walkers, guarded the entrance to Crowsley Park. The verges beside the access road were colourful with Lady’s Bedstraw, Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil and Agrimony. There was a brief diversion version to inspect the BBC’s satellite dishes. In the open area outside the security fence were several clumps of Viper’s-bugloss. In the surrounding woodland was an enormous old oak with fallen limbs and a Chicken of the Woods fungus high up on the trunk. A Hawthorn which had had its road-side branches cut back had grown an unusual collection of vertical branches to compensate. Returning to the planned route, the next footpath led out into park. A flock of House Martins skimmed low over the wet grass and a few Small Heath and Meadow Brown butterflies were disturbed from the vegetation. Harebells and Yarrow formed drifts of blue and white. A spreading tree covered with masses of creamy pea-like flowers was tentatively identified as a Japanese Pagoda Tree. The top of the park is on acid soil, with typical plants including Bracken and Tormentil. Descending the steep slope to the north, the transition to the underlying Chalk was marked by plants such as Dwarf Thistle, Burnet-saxifrage and Field Scabious. At this point, the second group turned back towards the start, while the first group continued round a loop of tracks and quiet lanes to the north. Highlight of the longer route was the margin of a field of Quinoa, where finds included Dwarf Spurge, Common Poppy, Field Madder, Field Pansy and Scarlet Pimpernel. The return route was mostly along footpaths around field margins, together with a few stretches along quiet lanes. Blue-flowered Chicory was noted in one field corner, Wild Clematis draped the hedge to mark where one field dropped down to the level of the Chalk and Woody Nightshade carried both flowers and berries. Another field margin with a wild bird seed mix had an interesting collection of plants, including Shaggy-soldier and Common Cudweed.  Finally, back at the Bird in Hand, lunch was consumed under a collection of gently dripping umbrellas out in the garden.