Through the Valley Of The Racehorse

After work this afternoon I headed east along the M4 into Berkshire. The target being the Great White Egret that has reappeared on the River Lambourn at Great Shefford. I arrived a little before three and started looking in the area that I have seen this bird before. Two Little Egrets and a Grey Heron were seen but no GWE. I followed the river eastwards as far as Whelford but there was no sign. A Sparrowhawk shot across the road and through the gardens of the houses in East Shefford. I stopped for a short walk at Elton but only added Moorhen and a

heard only GS Woodpecker to the year-list. Along the road to Whelford were several trees hosting impressive amounts of Mistletoe.

Another Little Egret was the only bird of note at Whelford. Then it was back to Great Shefford checking out a couple of birds perched on a thatch roof on the way. IMG_7066 (1024x647) Still no GWE but a Water Rail was a nice bonus bird. I then checked out the meadows to the west of the village seeing another Heron, a few Pheasants and a lot of corvids. Next was an unusual experience for me, a local road that I had not driven before, through East Garston and Eastbury to Lambourn. This is a village that I expect to be of interest but disappoints as personally i find that it has nothing to offer. Probably because I have no time for horse racing. The only point of interest that I have seen here is the track signed for Baydon Hole. Although I believe that this is just a farm. From here I took the road to Ashbury, a very pleasant drive with some roadside habitat that looks good for Short-eared Owls. None today, just a few Red Kites and a Kestrel. From Ashbury I checked out the farm buildings at Idstone for Little Owl but again no joy. The downs at Bishopstone came up trumps with a mixed flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover running into several hundred birds. The latter outnumbering the former by two to one. Also here were several Red-legged Partridge and my first Song Thrush of the year. Looking on Berkshire Bird News ( when I got home I saw that the Egret was present at around two o,clock and was seen to move off from its normal area. Unfortunately, like the Kennet there a several parts of the Lambourn that are not accessable.


2 responses to “Through the Valley Of The Racehorse

  1. Richard Willams

    Thanks for that report Malcolm. Whether we are into horse racing or not the Lambourn Valley is beautiful and then the stretch to Ashbury has a bit of a feel of a high level pasture about it _ I love it and exceptionally in the summer I’ll drive home that way (it’s an hours drive – that’s the drawback). Now we are dress down every Friday and not just once a month I’ll have to stop there some times in the summer and see what’s about.

    • It is very nice, differing from the Kennet Valley although still a chalk stream.
      Lambourn to Ashbury should be a Barn Owl hunting drive after dark although I haven’t tried it.
      Ashdown House and Grounds (National Trust) are nice for a bird walk if you fancy somewhere different. Steve Davies used to go there quite regularly and always got a good list.

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