OTTERNHOE KNOLLS IS

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

Tsi­t­u­ated on a north­ern out­crop of the Chiltern Hills Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty over­look­ing checker­board arable farm­land of the Vale of Ayles­bury to the west. With such com­mand­ing views it was an ob­vi­ous site for a me­dieval motte and bai­ley style cas­tle, the rem­nants of which are still ex­is­tent to­day. The county Wildlife Trust and TOP TIP An early morn­ing visit for vis­i­ble mi­gra­tion is worth­while Na­tional Trust are both in­volved in man­ag­ing the knolls, pri­mar­ily for plants and in­sects, via a pro­gramme of scrub con­trol. A Beech hangar, arable farm­land, pad­docks, hedgerows and green lanes all pro­vide a di­ver­sity of habi­tats suit­able for both res­i­dent and pas­sage mi­grants through­out the walk. Take the op­por­tu­nity to scan the skies wher­ever pos­si­ble; around dawn is best for passer­ines on the move over­head and from mid­morn­ing for soar­ing rap­tors. Pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the many buz­zards as Septem­ber is prime Honey Buz­zard pas­sage pe­riod, while Red Kites are now com­mon­place along this sec­tion of the Chilterns. Take your dog, too.

The Beech hangar at­tracts com­mon wood­land birds, typ­i­cally tits, thrushes, Great Spot­ted Wood­pecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Gold­crest, Jay and Tawny Owl. Another good view point for ob­serv­ing vis­i­ble mi­gra­tion.

23Open farm­land still sup­ports a few Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Grey and Red-legged Par­tridges and Corn Bunt­ing, plus the chance of a pas­sage Wheatear, Whin­chat or Stonechat. The likes of Lin­net, Yel­lowham­mer and Lesser Whitethroat fre­quent sur­round­ing hedgerows. Ploughed fields may briefly at­tract pass­ing Lap­wings, gulls and corvids to feed.

Lesser Whitethroat Red Kite

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