Fiona Brown led a circular walk, starting from the car park next to the Stag and Huntsman pub in Hambleden, on the morning of Wednesday 18 August. The walk started out southwards along a series of tracks through farmland. Some of the hedges had recently been trimmed, but the uncut ones had a selection of berries, including Elder, Dogwood and Blackberry. The next footpath climbed up through woodland, passing several Spurge-laurel bushes. A Speckled Wood butterfly was seen here and a Raven was heard. The path emerged into a field which had been planted with a bird or insect seed mix. The dominant colours were blue from Flax, white and yellow. Other arable plants here included Common Field-speedwell, Chicory, Field Madder, Field Pansy, Sun Spurge, Scarlet Pimpernel, Black Nightshade and Common Poppy. Of particular interest was Field Woundwort, described in ‘A Checklist of the Plants of Buckinghamshire’ by Maycock and Woods, (2005) as Near Threatened and very rare in cultivated fields in the south of the county. Tiny plants of Swine-cress were found in a gateway. After a short stretch along a lane, where Field Scabious was seen on the bank, the route continued across more arable fields. Corn Mint and Bugloss were found in the field margin, together with a Common Blue and a Small Copper butterfly. After another short stretch of road, the next footpath led across a grassy sheep pasture with distant views to the south. The route then dropped steeply down through Beech woodland. Three Roe Deer were disturbed at the top of the wood. The path led down to the wide flowery ride which runs along the bottom of the valley in Heath Wood. Red Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries were nectaring on tall Hemp Agrimony flowers, a Green-veined White was feeding on Marjoram and other butterflies included Brimstone, Peacock, Comma and Gatekeeper. Flowers included Vervain, Common Toadflax, Red Bartsia, Wild Basil and Ploughman’s-spikenard. Several caterpillars of the nationally scarce Striped Lychnis moth were found on flower spikes of Dark Mullein. The return route climbed steeply out of Heath Wood, then followed the Chiltern Way back to Hambleden. Further sightings on the walk back included Nettle-leaved Bellflower and tall spikes of Weld. Some of the group then stayed for lunch in the garden of the Stag and Huntsman.
Pictures by Fiona Brown