Walks in Wendover
To incorporate university work, a regional break away from the confines of the caravan and visiting my girlfriend, I recently took a trip to Wendover. Here, I was also able to factor in the time for exploring wildlife, in the countryside of Buckinghamshire.
Wendover is incredibly picturesque, preserving a history of Tudor architecture, a high street of mixed ethnic restaurants; wine bars and pubs, florists, charity shops and cafes. However, without a doubt, the picturesque element stems from its natural biogeography: perched within a periphery of wooded hills, the wildlife inhabiting this special place literally circles the sky above the small town.
Red Kites. Red Kites everywhere; I’m a keen birder, and I particularly love raptors, so seeing up to 15 red kites at once, soaring at house height above the high street was particularly inspiring. It kindled a great amount of motivation to get out walking with my girlfriend, Lena.
Suppressing the urge of venturing into the woods after walking up Coombe Hill to get a view of the countryside greenery, hills and valleys, we explored the urban realms of nature within the town instead. Observing the red kites and buzzards soaring about shops and residential houses, we took a walk through the local graveyard - pointing out the exuberant bird life there, and then finally arriving at the river, which proved to be particularly exciting.
A Little Egret stepped out from a section or reeds, hunting around five or six meters away from us, scrutinising the shallow water for its afternoon feed. Most of my encounters with Little Egrets have involved fairly timid birds: they usually fly off whenever I attempt to get close, but this one is clearly used to the people walking alongside the river.
Next comes the greatest wildlife spectacle on the trip (I think), with a lot of competition to bear in mind: the Little Grebes hunting. After watching them for a while, we noticed that we could, quite clearly, watch them as they hunted for fish underwater. And they were rapid! On one occasion we watched one catch a fish, and then while moving it in its beak prior to swallowing, it dropped the fish and swam back after it underwater, and actually managed to catch the same fish again. It was seriously amazing; I underestimated the tenacity, resilience and dynamics this species’ supreme hunting ability.
Considering the time of day and the lingering black clouds in the sky, we awaited our endeavour to the woods until the next day, which proved to be the right decision as the clouds parted for a full day of sunshine.
Our first lovely encounter of the day involved watching a pair of Goldcrests feeding on a tree, which they did so for half hour as we watched them. Beautiful little things.
Listening carefully to the sounds of singing birds we heard a distinct tapping; Lena then pointed out the Nuthatch low down on the trunk of a tree, not far from us.
We made a list of birds we saw as we ventured through the woods to the top of the Hill:
Acknowledging the abundance and beauty of life we had seen and the enjoyment of our walk in the woods, on the way back down we conversed about the obvious importance of ecology that people seem to struggle to acknowledge or just aren't aware of…philosophies on the physiological health it brings to people: the air, the visuals and sounds of pure life, and being in the presence of an environment we’ve relied on throughout our history – consciously appreciating its worth and value.
I envy the people that live in Wendover; although only (and hopefully) if they recognise the natural beauty on their doorstep.
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