Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Brush Hill and Whiteleaf HIll

It feels like ages since I last had a wander around Brush Hill (although it can only be about a month), so I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go up there yesterday.

The first thing I noticed was how much work has been done, presumably by the Chiltern Society. A lot of thick scrub and brambles have been cleared and it feels much more open now and will be much easier to explore. Must have been hard, prickly work!
I had a quick look in the ponds, but couldn't see any frogspawn
The paths seem to be edged with logs, which I'm not a huge fan of. It makes it all feel a bit too neat and formal, like you can only walk on the designated path, when half the fun is snuffling around off the beaten track. Maybe they just needed somewhere to put fallen logs though and I'm sure it will look better when all the plants start to grow and take over!

The entrance to the woods - this area has all been cleared as well
Our lovely snail is still there, but is looking a bit more exposed than he used to be. Please don't clear him away, he's an old friend!

This snail lives in Brush Hill
Lots of new nest boxes have been put up in the woods, some bigger than others.

A large box, for an owl maybe?
The dog's mercury is soon going to flower and the bluebells look like they'll put on a stunning display in a couple of months. There were also lots of Lords and Ladies growing in the woods.

Dog's mercury

A carpet of bluebells in the woods
The bluebells are growing well - still too early for flower buds though

Lords and Ladies (wild arum)
The beech trees will soon be in leaf as they're covered in leaf buds.

There were lots of little birds twittering around, including chaffinches, robins, blue tits and great tits. A great spotted woodpecker appeared high up in a tree and hopped around up there for a while.

Then I headed out of the woods into the freezing wind to take a look at the view.

I could also see Pyrtle Spring, down in the fields below the hill.
Pyrtle Spring is in the group of trees in the middle of the fields
Back through the woods, I headed over the road to Whiteleaf Hill for some more stunning views.

Bug Mad Girl is in school at the bottom of the hill, in the centre of the picture.
The top of the chalk cross is just beyond the wooden railing. 
looking down at the top of the chalk cross
Apart from the gigantic chalk cross on the side of the hill, there are a couple of other interesting features on Whiteleaf Hill. The first is a Neolithic barrow, which is one of the oldest monuments in Buckinghamshire and was the site of a burial over 5,500 years ago.

Neolithic barrow
The second is what appears to be digging by some sort of animal. It's actually World War I practice trenches, that were dug at half the size (or maybe 3/4 size) of the real trenches. They can be found throughout this part of the woods.

WWI practice trenches
Out by the cross, a pair of red kites were being blown around in the wind. They seemed to having a fabulous time gliding around wherever the strong wind took them. From the top of the hill you can get a unique view of them, as they often fly below you, so you look down on their backs.

Normally I'm looking up to see them, but from the top of the hill you can
look down on them as they fly past.

They have a very distinctive outline in flight, with a forked tail and the
curved shape of their long wings.
I headed back through the woods and bumped into this crow. He was stomping around in the leaves looking for food and didn't seem to care that I was right next to him.

Finally, I couldn't resist a bit of moss and lichen ...
This lichen was pale green - not the usual silver leafy lichen

A last quick look at the sleepers edging the car park and I found this
capillary thread moss - I liked all the capsules on it

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