Thursday, 4 June 2015

Peasemore, Leckhampstead, Chaddleworth and Brightwalton

Back in March I researched the route for a walk I will be leading in a couple of weeks time. I decided to make use of another sunny day to see what there three months on in preparation for the big day. However I added on a big section from the four miles to make it a proper 11 mile enterprise by including the villages of Chaddleworth and Brightwalton. Here is map of the walk:

I started off at Peasemore church and walked over the fields heading west. Lots of interesting arable weeds around and a good view back to the church.

Peasemore church

Heading out west the stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) were just coming into flower. Although the flowers are tiny they make quite an attractive starry picture.

stinging nettle flower,Urtica dioica

I'll skip over what I saw at Grove Pit as I will be back there in a couple of week's time. I explored the church at Leckampstead again, I described it in my 2013 walk. In the churchyard (usually good for wildlife) I spotted my first Common Blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) of the year

Common blue,Polyommatus icarus

Also in the churchyard I happened upon a family of long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus). The parents were busy giving an alarm call from a yew tree nearby, but the youngsters, four of them in all, ignored the alarm and continued feeding. They can't have long left the nest. This is a view of the bottom half of the bird.

long tailed tit,Aegithalos caudatus

And a view of the top half showing the head stripe not yet fully developed.

long tailed tit,Aegithalos caudatus

I continued west towards Chaddleworth, and just before reaching it there were a number of vigorous plants in full flower. They were unfamiliar to me, looking a bit like very large cuckoo-flowers. However, after looking through my books I think they are Dame's violets (Hesperis matronalis) which is a non-native but has been around a long time. It has a sweet fragrance.

dame's violet,Hesperis matronalis

Chaddleworth has a few old thatched cottages to give the place some rustic charm. This one has my vote for the 'chocolate box' award.

Chaddleworth thatched cottage

I walked along the lane to the church, which I visited on a walk back in March 2011 from Great Shefford.

Chaddleworth church

It has some interest monuments, an old font and a peaceful atmosphere. I walked over the fields towards Brightwalton, a village I had never visited before. Many of the footpaths take the direct route across the middle of fields as this one did.

path

The church at Brightwalton is 'modern' (1862) and was locked (the other three churches were all open). The village has the feel of a hamlet that has grown gradually in size, there was no real village centre but there were some nice old thatched houses scattered along the lanes. My path then led south through fields of broad beans, which have a striking flower and looked in fine condition.

broad bean

Along the path I saw a pair Small Tortoiseshell butterflies (Aglais urticae) probably thinking about mating. The count of butterflies is now increasing, on this walk I saw: Common blue; Small blue; Orange tip; Large white; Small white; Brimstone; Speckled Wood; Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. Very soon the skippers should join the list.

Small Tortoiseshell,Aglais urticae

On the other side of the path was a pair of hares. One soon hared off but the other kept a beady eye on me from a distance. I saw a hare close to here appropriately in March, it seems to be a good area for them.

hare,Lepus europaeus

It then moved a little further off, and seemed to have a rather cross look now.

hare,Lepus europaeus

Only a little further on I started chasing a pair of red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) along the path. One of them let me get close enough for a good picture. They have attractive plumage but not a 'true' native having been introduced as a game bird.

red-legged partridge

I reached a large wild-flower meadow near Peasemore which had a good range of flowers, including bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).

bird's foot trefoil,Lotus corniculatus

There were a good number of butterflies around (mainly whites and common blues), there were also fine examples of the strange looking kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria).

kidney vetch,Anthyllis vulneraria

I walked back along the lane to Peasemore and was lucky to have parked right next to a house where house martins (Delichon urbica) were starting to nest. These birds have become increasingly rare and are on the RSPB amber list. I saw three house martins flying around and trying to perch at this point, as one looked a youngster I wondered if this was the second brood and a fledgling is helping out the parents. You can just about make out the first few globs of mud (and spittle).

house martin,Delichon urbica

It seems a 'bird' dominated walk this time, I had expected to have found lots of flowers at this time of year. I took 180 photographs in all, this selection has I hope some general interest.