16 June 2016 Setley Pond

Pam led this walk and writes: At the start of the walk there was torrential rain so we decided to wait to see if it cleared. Luckily it did which allowed us to set off in a southerly direction past the pond where numerous House Martins were calling and skimming the water. We then picked our way along a wet path down to the railway bridge leading to Milking Pound Bottom and then up to Shirley Holms.

Along this route we saw fresh Chicken of the Woods high up on an oak, as well as an active Honey Bees nest inside a hollow branch within an oak tree. There was plenty of bird song especially Chiffchaff (left) which we had good views of by the cottages at Jealous Lane. Although we walked along the heath much of the route took us past farms with tree lined hay meadows filled with buttercups, ideal for the swallows we later saw feeding on insects. The banks of the shallow ditches running along the track had Black Medick growing and the heathland had Heath Speedwell, Heath Bedstraw, Tormentil and Lousewort, with the boggy areas full of fragrant Bog Myrtle.

Coral Necklace
At Shirley Holms car park we found an area of Coral Necklace (right) with its strands floating in a puddle and a healthy stand of Heath Spotted Orchids. At this point the sun came out so we decided not to walk through the dense Holly woods but to enjoy the sun. We passed the old track leading to the Dominican Priory, formerly Shirley Holms Manor. There were large patches of Common Cow­-wheat (below) a semi­parasitic plant that grows on the roots of other plants. We then circled the heath stopping to view Bullfinches and then newly fledged Whitethroat which were fluttering about in the bracken, this was the highlight of the walk. Finally we retraced our steps back to the railway bridge, this being the only way to cross the track on this route.
Common Cow-wheat