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Tyle Mill – 18 January 2012

On the damp but mild morning of 18th January, Chris Bucke led a walk which started from Tyle Mill, followed the lane south to Sulhampstead then turned right onto the footpath towards Ufton Green and Padworth. The land to the left of the path sloped uphill, while there were signs of springs down to the right. A flock of about 10 Skylarks was seen. One of the arable fields had a number of Musk Thistles, mostly covered by spiders’ webs. Another field had a selection of different plants in flower, including Pineappleweed, Field Pansy and Red Dead-nettle. Samples of the stout and hairy Common Mouse-ear and the more delicate Common Chickweed were taken for closer study in the pub afterwards. Snowdrops were in flower at Ufton Green.

The gravel pits near Padworth did not have a great variety of water fowl, but species seen included a few Greylag Geese, Shovelers, Pochards and Great Crested Grebes. The exposed bank of the River Kennet had a dark layer, which Chris identified as peat which had formed behind a beaver dam in the distant past. Guelder-rose berries on bushes at the side of the path were bright red, but rather shrivelled. After crossing the river at Aldermaston Wharf, the route followed the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal back to the start. Fieldfares and Redwings were seen in the bankside trees and big clumps of Greater Tussock-sedge were identified. A Kingfisher flew along the canal and then perched in a bankside Hawthorn, showing its chestnut breast. Most of the party then went to the Fox and Hounds at Theale for lunch.