BLEDLOW GREAT WOOD
A walk in Chiltern kite country
THE BACKDROP FOR this walk is the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, affording spectacular views across the Vale of Aylesbury to the north, and the town of Chinnor, complete with flocks of wheeling Red Kites. Chinnor Hill, with its Bronze Age burial mounds, is managed by the local Wildlife Trust, primarily for chalk downland plants and associated butterflies, with one of the favoured areas being the sheep-grazed slopes around the old chalk pit. Clearings with scattered scrub are also good spots for grounded passage migrants such as Ring Ouzel (above) or Redstart. Bledlow Great Wood is a typical Chiltern Beech hanger on the scarp slope, with a sparse understorey, scattered Junipers and Holly bushes and a terrific show of bluebells and ransoms. Elsewhere across the woodland, a wider variety of trees and scrub can be found, supporting the typical suite of lowland breeding birds and where Muntjac deer and Edible Dormouse are present. Visit early for the dawn chorus. I remember birding these chalk downs back in the 1970s when the last Cirl Buntings were breeding on the Chilterns. The passerine diversity is now much diminished from that time. On a positive note, Red Kite has returned and is thriving on these ancient hills.