Lambourn and surrounding area are a glorious haven of wildlife and natural beauty. The wonderful curves of the downland landscape, the changing colours of the trees, and the flowers, the birds, mammals, butterflies and more. Some things, like Corn Buntings and Grey Partridges, are now rare and hard to see across most of England but still thankfully present on the downs.
Every year is different. Some wildflowers thrive but then fade; birds might do well one year but become scarce or non-existent another. In the last 20 years buzzard numbers have recovered, and red kites appeared and now become a common site. Butterflies have come and gone.
Can we do more to share our observations of nature around the Lambourn valley? I hope that people will want to tell others about what they have seen so that more people can enjoy it.
I don't live in Lambourn but I have been visiting for over 30 years - and always take the opportunity to walk the woods and hills. I would be glad to receive your reports and post them on this website - send them to me at email@example.com. But I would also be happy to let someone in the village take this on!
Happy nature spotting
This week I had an exciting find - a Viviparous Lizard at White Chute/ The Watts nature reserve. I reported it to BBOWT, who have told me it's the first reptile lizard on the site. I'm afraid it scuttled off before I could grab a photo. At the same spot I noticed a beautiful Pyramidal Orchid.
I hadn't seen a bullfinch this year, so on a cold February morning I took myself off on the track towards The Watts BBOWT reserve, the sun making a watery yolk through the clouds, a kestrel silhouetted against the grey. There were no bullfinches along the track before the reserve, and the reserve itself was pretty quiet, bird-wise, though a couple of ravens flew cronking overhead. But in the hedgerow along the track just before Cleeve Cottage I met up with a mixed feeding flock - chaffinches, blue and great tits, and then I spotted a pair of male bullfinches at the rear. And while I was watching them, a marsh tit hopped into view, and then a second one. This is where I saw marsh tits last year - and where I saw my first ever, fifteen or so years ago.
Thinking my luck was in, I strode on past the cottage then cut north on the footpath across the field towards Great Park Wood, hoping to see golden plovers - I have seen them here in previous winters. The air was thick with skylark song, and then I saw the larks flying up into the wind. Then there they were - 25 plovers, crouching low in the stubble, stoically facing into the wind and then the sharp shower that blew across, raindrops like diagonal silver streaks backlit by the sun around them. Wonderful.
Corn Buntings have declined massively in recent decades, as have Yellowhammers, but Lambourn is still a regular area for them. It was a delight just after Christmas to climb the path north from Farncombe Farm. The set-aside field corner must be rich in seeds, because there were at least 30 Corn Buntings in and around it, maybe 15 Yellowhammers, a big flock 50+ of Linnets and a few Skylarks. The warm weather meant a lot of plants are still (or already!) in flower, there were bumble bees and even a honey bee around.
It seems extraordinary that when there are massive floods up north, the Lambourn is still not running.