Search for spring migrants on the Chiltern Hills
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.