CHALKNEY WOOD

Won­der­ful wood­land for spring birdwatching

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go BIrding - ALAS­TAIR RI­LEY

TOP TIP Be pre­pared to sit and wait, time your visit for early or late in the day

I– prob­a­bly Welsh and Scot­tish, too – county has an un­writ­ten list of quin­tes­sen­tial lit­tle wood­lands that ev­ery­one knows; the kind Miss Marple cy­cles past. Es­sex is no ex­cep­tion and there are plenty of sug­ges­tions for the most quin­tes­sen­tial of them all! After time spent work­ing in wood­lands for a Wildlife Trust, a short while ago I con­cluded that ‘wood watch­ing’ might very well be my favourite type of birdwatching. I love sit­ting on a dis­carded log or pile of cop­piced branches watch­ing the wood­land world. Chalkney Wood near Wakes Colne fits my bill per­fectly. I also hold it dear be­cause it once gave me four wood­pecker species on my list…yes, four! A re­cent Oc­to­ber af­ter­noon threw in a mi­grant Wry­neck to my ex­pected Great and un­ex­pected Lesser Spots to go with the noisy Green Wood­peck­ers. The clear­ings are good here, aid­ing vis­i­bil­ity and ac­cess to good num­bers of tit and finch species – Hawfinch in­cluded some­times. The Cross­bills I had there re­cently may have been pass­ing through, of course. I have been lucky here with oc­ca­sional Wood­cock (right) un­der my feet and on a walk at dusk I saw Tawny, Lit­tle and Barn Owl. It is a wood of about 65 hectares, en­hanced by its flora and, due to the lo­ca­tion, bird­watch­ers can aug­ment the day’s list with a walk along­side the re­ward­ing River Colne, in de­light­ful Wakes Colne. Have a mooch here in late April and sum­mer and, as well as lots of vis­i­tors, you may see a Field­fare or two. When I lived on wood­land-free Alder­ney, Chalkney Wood was one of the places I took ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to visit when back in Eng­land for birdwatching. I re­ally missed it – you mustn’t!

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