SITUATED ON THE HERTS/ Bucks border, this winter birding walk wanders through rolling countryside around the pretty village of Sarratt, so typical of the Chiltern Hundreds, and is the perfect tonic to any New Year excesses. The River Chess is at the heart of Spend extra time scanning along the river the route, meandering through classic chalk downland scenery of wooded Beech hangars, copses, mixed farmland, waysides and commons, making for a wide variety of habitats. Common farmland birds can be expected along the way with an outside chance of finding a Marsh Tit or Hawfinch in the woodlands. On the plus side, Red Kites and Buzzard are now routinely noted soaring above the canopy and along the downs, while conifers are worth checking for Firecrest and Crossbill. The River Chess is a classic chalk stream and supports a wide range of flora and fauna including Water Vole, Brown Trout and Grayling. Watercress beds used to be commonplace along the valley, but today the only commercial grower remaining is at Sarratt Bottom, where as a child I used to fish for Bullheads and Crayfish. Despite the rampant urban expansion of this part of the Home Counties, the environs of Sarratt still manage to retain a rural charm. Any of the trio of village pubs are worth a lunchtime visit.