Field Event Reports

Wednesday 23 August: Lollingdon Hill, Cholsey

Leaders: Tony Rayner and Paul Chandler

The group explored the wildlife around the farmland

A group of 11 members gathered on an overcast and humid day at the Cholsey Pavilion Car Park (OX10 9PT. Grid ref: SU586864) where we were met by our hosts Tony Rayner and Paul Chandler at 10.00am. We were privileged to being taken on Paul's 'patch' to the west of Cholsey on which he regularly reports his visits on Cholsey Wildlife blog .

The route took us across the extensive Cholsey recreation fields, into the Jubilee Wood, under the arches bridging the Bunk Line and main Railway line, over Cholsey Brook, across a stubble field (at which point Tony left the group) and up through grass meadows to a local farm. From there we followed a track on the edge of woodland and finally emerging on the south-west side and near the top of Lollingdon Hill, with views across the farmland below and a meadow holding a number of white cattle above us to the top of the Hill. So on the first part of the walk we passed through a great variety of habitats, which in itself made a very pleasant walk. There were, of course, a number of interesting natural history observations:

A Chiffchaff was calling deep in Jubilee Wood. As we exited Brunel's Tunnel the shaded brickwork was covered Harts Tongue ferns and some of us were lucky to see a Kingfisher flash by up the Cholsey Brook. While crossing the stubble field a large flock of 50 plus Linnets swooped up and down from the field, disappearing completely from sight while on the ground. At the farm buildings Paul searched to no avail for some Spotted Flycatchers that he had seen the day before. A male Yellowhammer was also seen by some as we walked up the footpath on the west side of the Hill.

The highlight occurred while we gathered at the south-west side of the Hill resting on a farm gate, with a hedgerow to our left. Three Redstarts (one stunning male and two females) were darting in and out of the hedgerow, occasionally perching on the fence posts, giving us excellent albeit somewhat distant views. (Without Paul there, I am sure we would never have spotted them, but they had been in residence for some time and regularly seen by Paul). Another Redstart was heard calling from farther down the Hill, as was a Green Woodpecker. This point was clearly Paul's key viewing area for birds flying above, particularly migrants. Today there was just small passage of Swallows and House Martins and a solitary Swift. A Kestrel and Red kite made good use of the updraught of breeze on the slope above us and slid without a wingbeat hunting across the slope, as did a Lesser-Blackbacked Gull.

Some of the group made an early departure and went back the way we had come, while the others decided to circumnavigate the Hill, walking along the fence line (a place where Common Lizards were often seen - but not on this cool, overcast day) and out on the track which took us back near the farm. A different route was taken back to Cholsey, which took us by the pond that is fed by a spring and the source of Cholsey Brook. To our surprise a Red Kite emerged from the branches of one of the trees, circled and settled back giving us good views - a number of the attendees had never seen a Red Kite perched in a tree before.

There were not many butterflies about during the morning, as it was pretty cloudy. The highlight was a rather faded Painted Lady, along with some unidentified whites, a Small Tortoiseshell, a Meadow Brown and three Speckled Woods.

The final part of the walk took us back under the railway lines, through a small housing development and back into the Pavilion playing fields. Sincere thanks were conveyed to Paul for a most enjoyable walk in an area not visited before, not the least for allowing us to see some of the secrets of 'his' patch.

Birds seen/heard:
Blackbird, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Wren, Chiffchaff, Yellow Hammer, Linnet, Redstart, Kingfisher, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Green Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Kestrel, Red Kite, Buzzard, Lesser-Blackbacked Gull.
Small whites, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood.
Rosemary Phillips, Eleanor Dangerfield, David Hastings, Michael Bloom, Felicity Jenkins, Sally Ainslie, Graham Bateman, Hugh Summers, Vivienne Summers, Jackie Hudson, Nigel Gregory.

Report: Graham Bateman

A Red Kite was perched in a tree nearbyThere were several Redstarts

We met in Chosey villageBinoculars were usefulThere was plenty to seeIt flew off behind the watchers

We met in Cholsey village. There was plenty of interest around the railway bridge. The gloomy railway bridge was on the route The walk passed farmland.