Discovery at Little Marlow

I have driven past the old gravel-pits at Little Marlow, Bucks, many times, little knowing that the lake which has been created there is a bird heaven.  It is Spade Oak Nature Reserve and is managed by local people, and the Bucks Bird Club records sightings.

8 notice-board

Today I stopped there for a walk and saw my first blackcap, willow warbler, sand martin and house martin of the year, and my second-ever yellow wagtail.

As soon as I came to the shore of the lake I could see the Hirundinidae in profusion over the water, a mixture of swallows and martins, black and brown.  It was a lovely concentration of them when there are so few anywhere else, and they wove ceaselessly across the water.

1 Spade Oak

The lake where the swallows, house martins and sand martins were

A bit further on I stopped at a vantage point where fortunately some people with a telescope could point me to seven common terns and a yellow wagtail.

2 Spade Oak - common terns

The common terns were near the island


3 Spade Oak - yellow wagtail

The shore where the yellow wagtail was.







I came to a boggy section among trees and here I tracked down the willow warbler and blackcaps—male and female.

4 Spade Oak - blackcap

Blackcap territory.

A path leading north from the lake brings you to Little Marlow village with its attractive twelfth-century church,

7 church and green

pivoting lychgate

6 lychgate (pivot)

and small green.

7 church and green

I followed a path through woods and along the edge of the fields, noting what looked like a tumulus, which had been left unploughed.  There is nothing marked on the 1:25000 Ordnance Survey map.


7 tumulus


A permissive path leads back to the lake and I followed this round to the car park, enjoying the scratchy song of an elusive sedge warbler.

The walk is promoted in a leaflet by Little Marlow Parish Council.  The story of the site and the battle for the permissive path is told here.

Opposite the car park is the Spade Oak pub, a convenient start or end of the walk.

9 pub

Spade Oak


About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Birds, Bucks, Public paths and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Discovery at Little Marlow

  1. Geoff says:

    A lovely time of the year to be out in the countryside. While doing some footpath work for Lincs Wildlife Trust at our local nature reserve on Wednesday, I saw my first cuckoo of the year fly past. We then saw and heard Natterjack toads (a first for me) at a specially constructed and protected pond on the Reserve.


  2. George Stride says:

    We saw our first swallows of the year yesterday at Arlington Reservoir after a 15.5 mile walk including some of the Vanguard Way!

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