Search for spring mi­grants on the Chiltern Hills

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - PAUL TRODD

SAND­WICHED BE­TWEEN LU­TON and Dun­sta­ble, on the dip slope of the Chiltern Hills, is an area of scat­tered copses and arable farm­land on what is known lo­cally as ‘clay-in-flint’ coun­try. Green lanes, hedgerows and pad­docks break up the mono­cul­ture and pro­vide ideal feed­ing habi­tat for a va­ri­ety of way­side birds. The jewel in the crown of this walk is Bush Wood, where stands of ma­ture and cop­piced Ash, Horn­beam and Wild Cherry har­bour ‘drum­ming’ wood­peck­ers and maybe those first singing war­blers of the spring, Chif­fchaff and Black­cap. For­merly, this semi-nat­u­ral wood was a reg­u­lar haunt of Hawfinch and Marsh Tit, al­though there is still a chance of en­coun­ter­ing the lat­ter. Adding to the di­ver­sity along the walk is a golf course, which is per­haps the best area for catch­ing sight of a first Wheatear or Swal­low, those true har­bin­gers of spring, and maybe a Ring Ouzel feed­ing on a fair­way. Early morn­ing van­tage points here can be good for ob­serv­ing vis­i­ble mi­gra­tion, while to­wards noon on a sunny day, check for rap­tors such as Red Kite and Buz­zard, soar­ing over the downs. Chaul End pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing and pleas­ant walk on a bright spring morn­ing for a va­ri­ety of lin­ger­ing win­ter vis­i­tors and early spring mi­grants to en­joy.

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