OLD WAR­DEN NR

De­cid­u­ous wood­land with var­ied birdlife

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - ABI­GAIL HAMIL­TON THOMP­SON

Ap­proach­ing the Old War­den Na­ture Re­serve along the track from the sug­gested park­ing spot, the re­serve from a dis­tance may ap­pear tra­di­tional, but you are in for a real treat! As soon as you leave the track and pass through the gate into the wood­land, you are greeted by large oak and Ash trees. If you visit dur­ing the day, lis­ten care­fully for the tap­ping of Great Spotted Wood­peck­ers, or if your visit is noc­tur­nal, lis­ten out for Tawny Owls. Nav­i­gat­ing along any one of the paths lead­ing east, you may come across some of the graz­ing an­i­mals loaned to the Wildlife Trust for Bed­ford­shire, Cam­bridgeshire and Northamp­ton­shire to help man­age vege­ta­tion lev­els. Emerg­ing from the de­cid­u­ous wood­land, you should be stand­ing at the top of the Old War­den Tun­nel, now boarded up with grat­ings to al­low ac­cess for the lo­cal bat colony. The for­mer Mid­land rail­way con­nected Bed­ford and Hitchin but was with­drawn prior to Dr Beech­ing’s cuts. From this high van­tage point, look to the skies for birds of prey cir­cling above the wood­land and rail­way cut­ting, search­ing for mice or voles in the fields. De­scend­ing the steps into the for­mer rail­way cut­ting, keep an eye out for sum­mer war­blers nest­ing in the scrub. The ma­ture Hawthorn and Black­thorn bushes dot­ted around the re­serve pro­vide the res­i­dent birds with plenty of berries. To­day dis­used rail­ways pro­vide use­ful rail­way cor­ri­dors.

Tawny Owl

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