Churn

For an approximate location map, click here.

map of
churn

This site is perhaps no richer ornithologically than many others in the surrounding area, but scores over them because of the existence of a long winding lane which gives easy vehicular access to this quiet spot deep in the Berkshire Downs. A disused railway line, a former rifle range, open gallops and several wide grassy trackways with unkempt hedges provide habitat for a good range of downland specialities.

SU510832

From the A417 just west of Blewbury village follow Boham's Road (opposite Sebastopol Wines) to its conclusion by a bridge over a disused railway. Park thoughfully on the verge.

Blewbury (2 miles) is served by infrequent buses from Didcot: Chiltern Queens route C (tel. 01491 680354) and Martins Coaches route 3 (tel. 01494 711298). The nearest station is at Goring and Streatley, some 3 miles to the east along the Ridgeway Path.

Rights of way.

The bridge over the disused railway (A) provides a good vantage point to scan the horizon for raptors, and gives a wide view over surrounding farmland (check for Golden Plover). In winter Merlins patrol the hedges and tracks in search of passerines (such as Corn Bunting, Skylark and Meadow Pipit).

If time permits, walk along the concrete track to the old Rifle Range (C), pausing to scan the pig farm (B) which sheltered a long-staying Black Redstart in 1995/1996 and sometimes produces wintering Stonechat. Whinchat and Wheatear are possibilities in migration periods. In winter, look out for Short-eared Owl hunting along the line of the railway (D) or the grassy rides radiating from the Range. Listen out for Curlew in spring. Quail have occasionally been heard calling in the locality of the Range in late spring and early summer.

The hedges of Boham's Road attract large numbers of Fieldfares in winter. Stock Doves are also common in the area.

Sutton Courtenay, Cholsey.
Dave Dunford