On a dry and mild Sunday morning I set off on a new walk, taking in the area south west of home (see map to the right). A considerable amount of this area is Ash Valley golf course, but two footpaths cross the fairways, allowing good access to an area that I suspect will prove fruitful for spring migrants. It is an area of land that is around 90 metres above sea level and therefore able to offer sanctuary to migrating birds such as wheatear and maybe ring ouzel. Today's walk added 5 to the village list. Firstly, a flock of meadow pipits flew over the golf course. These were soon followed by the discovery of 3 reed buntings in a hedge adjacent to Caley Wood. The fungi photo above was taken in the damp wood.
I continued along the hedgerow south of the first holes of the golf course, flushing 4 red legged partridge. A reasonable flock of finches were feeding around a pheasant feeder just before I gained access to the road, crossed over and headed down to the River Ash, just south of Lordship Farmhouse. A footbridge crossed the swollen river. Soon I came across a large finch/bunting flock, probably numbering in excess of 200. Majority were chaffinches with over 40 yellowhammers. Others were goldfinches, greenfinches and a couple of reed buntings. A moorhen called from the adjacent field, making 5 new sp for the walk. I got back to the road at Bridgefoot Farm, where I chatted to the farmer, Mr Camp. I was after an allotment and had been told that he rented some out. Indeed he did and I now have my work cut out to prepare the allotment for sowing by Feb/March.
A splendid walk, realising 28 species of bird and one I must repeat soon as I need to get my telescope down to the finch flock to check if there were any other species mixed in. Brambling or siskin, perhaps? Finally, a muntjac deer, fearless, observed me as I made my way across the fields towards the road and farm
Photo below is taken, looking north along the Ash, with Bridgefoot Farm in the distance.
The photo below shows the junction of Chapel Lane at Ashford House and the Nags Head. In a small paperback book about the village there are several photos of this area going back to 1900's. One particularly shows flooding at the Ford in recent times. The book is by Stephen Ruff, available at Waterstones in Stortford.