Olney Church across the meadow (Photo © Derek Taylor)
In previous years, this walk along the Ouse has been very popular when undertaken in May or June, usually co-led by Julie Lane and Martin Kincaid. A late summer visit still proved rewarding though.
A short walk from Olney market square brought us to Church Street. At one of the mill-side houses, Martin pointed out a large quantity of bat droppings on the white window ledges of the house. Some of these were the pellets of pipistrelle bats but there were also the larger, twisted pellets of brown long-eared bats. Little did we know the grand finale these bats had planned for us!
At the river, we soon saw Banded Demoiselles and Common Emerald damselflies and also spotted Minnows and Rudd in the clear water. One of our newest members, Rob Andrews, spotted some Yellow Wagtails flying over and a single juvenile Goosander was fishing in the river. In previous years we have seen family groups of this species, which has nested at Olney Mill for the past decade. Rob later found a male Redstart in one of the hedgerows crossing the fields. Although distant, most of the birders managed a glimpse of this lovely bird.
Juvenile Goosander (Photo © Julie Cuthbert)
Our attention soon turned to riparian plants. We found some nice stands of Flowering Rush in the ditches and along the river. Further along, we found the naturalised Orange Balsam, Marsh Woundwort and the bright deep flowers of Skullcap. Mid-stream, the white flowers of a Water Crowfoot could be observed, although we were unable to identify this to species from such a distance. Kingfishers were active, calling regularly, and eventually two appeared and gave brief views to the group.
We walked back towards the church across the fields, picking up Speckled Bush-cricket and Roesel’s Bush-cricket with bat detectors. Jenny Mercer identified Musk Thistle in the fading light.
On reaching Olney Mill at dusk, the bat detectors were overwhelmed with the sounds of echo-locating bats. We all stood and watched in amazement as dozens of bats emerged from the house and began their evening flights. These were mostly common pipistrelles although a few larger bats seen may have been brown long-eareds. We returned to the market place at around 9pm having enjoyed a memorable walk – in August sunshine!