Birds on the greensand

On the last day of April I joined other members of the Bucks Bird Club for an amble around Rushmere Country Park on the borders of Buckinghamshire and Central Bedfordshire. The park is run by the Greensand Trust. We were led by Rob Andrews who lives nearby and walks there every day.

We started at the visitor centre where there is a deck with a view over a small lake which straddles the county boundary. You look to opposite slope which has coniferous and deciduous trees.

View from the deck.

Herons are nesting in the conifers and there is a webcam in one of the nests. We had a good view of stock doves (my first this year), herons, a sparrowhawk, raven, and buzzard.

We set off through the woods, hearing chiffchaff, blackcap, goldcrests and blackbirds.

At first we were among conifers, but then the woods opened out into deciduous and we saw a blackcap and nuthatch.

Blackcap spot.

We followed a path by open fields, and Rob pointed out two old meadows on the slope below Great Brickhill which are threatened with housing. I offered some tips on path law.

The planning application affects the fields below the houses.

We came to the northern point of the park, and I saw that there is a dead-end recorded bridleway here, so will alert the British Horse Society to look into this before the definitive map is closed in 2031 to applications for historic routes.

We walked back through woods, seeing a great spotted woodpecker.

A bit further on there is an area where the trees have been clear-felled, and a new heathland habitat will develop. On another part the heathland had already started to grow up.

A peahen was pecking around; it had been there all winter.


Every so often we came upon a woodland sculpture

We stopped by a pond where we thought we heard a garden warbler, but after much listening we decided that, since it ended its song with a fluty bit, it was a blackcap. Finally we saw it, confirming it was a blackcap. Rob said that at this time of year blackcaps tend to sound like garden warblers, which is unhelpful of them. A noisy wren was nesting here too.

Where the blackcap sang.

We returned along the edge of the wood, hoping to hear skylarks but were not lucky.

Edge of the wood, looking west.

Rob said that usually at this time of year we would have heard willow warblers and garden warblers, so it was a little disappointing. However, we saw or heard 30 species, or 31 if you count the peahen.


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.
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