Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Crookham Common and River Enborne

This was a short 4 mile exploratory walk. I am due to lead a walk in August along the same route so I will leave details and a map until I do the walk for real. In February there is often not a lot to see, although November, December 2015 and January have been exceptionally mild with some plants six weeks ahead of schedule, the last few weeks have taken us back into winter, and the plants that sprouted forth are now kept in check by sharp night frosts. Delicate garden flowers that I hoped might survive have fallen victim to the cold. I parked at Crookham Common which is just to the east of Greenham Common. I did part of this walk in July 2011 and thought the area was promising for a guided natural history walk.

Crookham Common has areas of acid heathland with gorse the dominant plant. Gorse is reputed to be in flower all year round, and certainly there was plenty of flower on display.


The woods were inviting, one tree had a bat box and a bird nest box on it.


With few flowers on offer about the next best thing is lichen, which can have very leaf like structures.


Then I made my way down to the River Enborne, where there is a ford that has been closed to through traffic due to incidents during periods of flooding.

River enborne

On the river were a couple of mallard drakes.


Looking back over the river was an alpaca keeping an eye on me.

It was good to see snowdrops still flowering at the time they should, they were flowering in my garden in November.


Another indicator thaqt things are getting back to normal was that catkins on alder trees were not quite out yet.

alder catkin

A reminder of the previous night's frost on areas in shadow.

frosted nettle

Climbing out of the valley of the River Enborne, I heard the soft chirp of a bullfinch calling in the trees.


Approaching the village of Crookham a robin was busy sunning itself.


I then walked on the easternmost parts of Crookham Common and found this pool casting perfect shadows.

tree reflections

Before setting off I went on a short detour to look at the eastern part of Greenham Common, which has been heavily landscaped with pools and banks. Nature is gradually taking over what was piles of gravel and sand. I managed to capture a grey heron on the look out for a February snack.

grey heron