Walking in Autumn at the Warburg Reserve

Thursday walk

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

This wild place is in the depths of the Oxfordshire countryside near Henley. I parked at Maidensgrove common and walked down into the wooded valley to discover its autumn charms.
It had snowed in the Chilterns just the day before. An unexpected downfall that froze over making it treacherous to drive to work. The sun came out and the countryside looked beautiful. I hoped that some of the snow would survive the following day and I might get some interesting photos. It was not the case. There was not even a tiny drift left in any gully. However, the trees still had their Autumn colours so I was hopeful.
It was so quiet in the valley. There was no one around so I had the place to myself. It was raining as I set off but this soon cleared and the sun came through so I caught some good light effects on the leaves and branches. There were deer that scampered off into the woods as I approached. Right down in the bottom of the valley there is an old muddy track that runs through the reserve and one deer came out onto this in front of me and then couldn’t find a way out. She ran away from me on the track her heels kicking up the mud behind her.
In the bird hide, I settled down with my binoculars and had a cup of tea from my flask. Not really expecting to see anything. Then a gold crest came out and moved rapidly bimbling over the branches. I can recognise this bird just by the way it move but it was good to see the vibrant band of yellow across its head and its wide eyes. There was also a male bullfinch and several chaffinches.
Further up the valley I took more photos as the trees looked so good in the sun. I set up my tripod and wandered around looking for shots. Then within a few minutes a cloud rolled over and it rained again. I hauled myself back up the hill for tea and toast back at home.


Dawn Chorus Walk at Warburg Nature Reserve

misty trees

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

Dawn Chorus at Warburg, 4th May 2008
The Ravenous Rambler was up before the larks this morning. 3.30 am to be precise and then down to the Warburg nature reserve in the Bix valley for International Dawn Chorus Day.
It was still dark as we drove down the flooded winding lane deep in the Oxfordshire countryside. There were some shadowy figures standing around and our host – Gavin Hageman was giving a running commentary on what we might see. I worked out that the event was being recorded for Oxfordshire radio by Phil Mercer and whilst I was rummaging around in the boot, Mrs Rambler was being interviewed for the programme!
There were a few tawny owl hoots and then the skylarks kicked in along with blackbirds and mistle thrush. Then the robins started to sing and it all started to get a bit confusing.  We, there were about eighteen hardy souls, all went for a walk around the reserve and we heard black caps, chiff chaff and willow warbler and I was quite pleased to get these sounds into my head. Also distinguishing between blue tits and great tits. The great tits’ call is like “teacher..teacher”, whereas the blue tit is more “see…see…see”. We heard the green woodpecker with its cackle like cry.
The sun loomed up without giving much away – it was a dull day but the walk was excellent, through the chalky pastures and Chiltern beech woods. There were fields of cowslips and rings of mushrooms to spot.

This reserve is one of the oldest run by BBOWT. It nestles in a deep wooded valley in the Chiltern Hills and is a superb nature reserve with a network of interesting walks that link up with a variety of other footpaths that go outside the reserve. The mixture of chalk grasslands and ancient woodlands make it an excellent place to spot a wide variety of birds and butterflies.
It was with some relief that we headed back to the start where Gavin set to making breakfast on a camp stove and we all enjoyed bacon and egg sandwiches which have never tasted better. Red kits soared overhead but they weren’t getting my bacon roll!
Back home – it was back to bed with a pot of tea and we tuned into Radio Oxford to hear it all over again.