Tuesday 09 June – South Stoke

 This walk was almost our nearest to midsummer, though with a chilly north easterly wind, it didn’t quite feel like flaming June. However, with the bright sunshine and sparkling visibility, the countryside couldn’t have looked better as 18 of us set off from the lovely village of South Stoke. The first stretch of road walking with superb views to the south gave us whirling House Martins and Swallows and there was much colour from garden plants and shrubs and the ubiquitous Valerian, both pink and red, popping out of every crevice. We turned off the road and onto a footpath in a wonderful meadow, though the low temperature didn’t seem to be tempting any butterflies or indeed many insects. We started the downhill bit of the walk soon adding many common species to our list. Up to four Buzzards were circling and calling and one of them was carrying a large item of prey, probably a rat. Following a steep narrow path further down into the valley Swift and Jackdaw were seen and in the field at the bottom, a Green Woodpecker. Our route then took us into woods with Magpie, Chiffchaff, Great and Blue Tits and Dunnock seen or heard. Still descending we arrived at Tucking Mill, where a Grey Wagtail obligingly perched for all to see. The walk was mainly uphill from then on! We climbed up to the top of the viaduct and joined the former railway track and en-route to our coffee stop at old Midford Station saw a Roe Deer and a Pheasant. Back across the road again we started to follow the old coal canal route and a pair of Marsh Tits were seen and heard. On this stretch we added Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch and Greenfinch and a Raven. The final species tally was 33. Many thanks to Dave Body for leading this popular and rewarding walk. Nancy Barrett