Fiona Brown led a walk along the Jubilee River on Wednesday 19 January, starting from the Lake End Road car park, to the north of Dorney. The morning started cool and cloudy, but brightened up later. Members who had arrived early reported seeing a Mediterranean Gull on the other side of the road. The walk started out south-westwards along the southern bank of the river. Cases of avian flu had been reported from further downriver, but the Jubilee River Mute Swans looked to be in good health. A number of Cormorants were perched on trees, including one with a prominent white breeding patch on its flanks and grey plumage on the back of its head. Several showed a green sheen on their feathers. Canada Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe were soon added to the species tally. A small group of Gadwall, with two males and a single female, swam across to the far bank of the river. Most of the gulls were Black-headed, but Common and Lesser Black-backed Gull were also seen. Two Buzzards circled above the far bank.
Roundmoor Ditch is a chalk-fed stream that rises near Taplow, passes Slough Sewage Works, flows under the Jubilee River and crosses Dorney Heath. The sun had just emerged from behind banks of cloud and swarms of tiny flies were dancing in the sunlight above the stream at the point where it emerges on the south bank of the Jubilee River. The explosive call of a Cetti’s Warbler came from deep in the brambles overhanging the stream. The walk then continued over the embankment and down onto Dorney Common. To the right was a big shallow pool with muddy margins. A small group of Wigeon were feeding in the shallow water and two Egyptian Geese could be seen on the far bank. The whinnying calls of Little Grebe could be heard coming from the vegetation at the side of the Roundmoor Ditch and there were occasional glimpses of at least two specimens, together with the fleeting glimpse of a Water Rail. A group of Teal could be seen on the far bank and they were briefly joined by a Snipe. A Reed Bunting was also seen here and the leaves of Water Figwort were found on the bank. The walkers then turned round and retraced their footsteps back along the southern bank of the Jubilee River. A Kestrel was perching low in a nearby tree and Goldfinches were spotted in the bushes beside the track. Fiona turned down a side path towards the waterside, disturbing a Green Woodpecker. Beside the path was a large mystery bone. Research after the walk suggested that it was probably the pelvis of a large bird, possibly a goose. Across the river, willow stems gleamed yellow and orange in the low sunshine, standing out against a backdrop of dark clouds. Continuing back along the riverside track, red flower tufts were found on a Hazel bush and a Bullfinch was heard. Some of the group then had lunch nearby at the Pineapple pub, followed by a visit to St Luke’s Church in Maidenhead, where they saw the resident female Peregrine flying in to roost.
Pictures by Fiona Brown