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.
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.
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.
I came to a boggy section among trees and here I tracked down the willow warbler and blackcaps—male and female.
A path leading north from the lake brings you to Little Marlow village with its attractive twelfth-century church,
and small 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.
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.
Opposite the car park is the Spade Oak pub, a convenient start or end of the walk.