A wet­land walk to en­joy on the out­skirts of Ash­ford

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

THIS WIN­TER BIRD­ING walk is cen­tred on the quar­ry­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of the Brett Group, along the Stour val­ley close to the busy com­muter town of Ash­ford. The re­sul­tant Conningbrook Lakes have re­cently been des­ig­nated as a coun­try park by Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil, which main­tains the site for gen­eral leisure use, along with a nat­u­ral his­tory in­put from the Kent Wildlife Trust. The lakes are fa­mous in fish­ing cir­cles for the land­ing of a Bri­tish record 67lb carp. They at­tract a range of gulls, feral geese and wild­fowl, with a chance of a Goosander or Smew drop­ping in dur­ing cold weather. In­creas­ingly, the oc­ca­sional Great White Egret is found among the com­moner Lit­tle Egrets around the mar­gins, or in the ma­ture wil­lows that bor­der the lakes. A smaller, reed-fringed lake may en­tice a Bit­tern to win­ter, while ad­ja­cent ar­eas of scrub and un­cut grasses can at­tract finch and thrush flocks at times. The River Stour is the jewel in the crown of this walk as it me­an­ders north­wards through the North Downs and should de­liver the likes of King­fisher and Grey Wag­tail with a chance of Siskin and Red­poll in river­side alders. Out­side of the coun­try park, the foot­path winds its way across arable farm­land and skirts a copse, adding to the habi­tat di­ver­sity. Keep an eye out for in­creas­ing num­bers of Red Kites.


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