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Saturday, 15 January 2005

Chinnor Quarry


Location

The site is easy to find by taking Hill Road out of Chinnor up towards Bledlow. Old Kiln Lakes is signposted from the new roundabout just over the railway bridge. Park at The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway for a longer walk around the whole site or on one of the streets in the housing development for quicker access to the Lakes and a shorter walk. 

A: Parking (Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway). The car park can get full when trains are running - check C&PR Railway website for timetable
B: Parking (Ridgeway - limited spaces and off road)
C: Parking (Roadside, please be considerate of residents)

Background

The decommissioned Rugby Cement quarry has recently been developed by Taylor Wimpey homes and has been left as an open access community facility and nature reserve and is developing into a great local wetland site. Taylor Wimpey still own the site and carry out a basic management plan. The deeper ‘Blue Lagoon’ lake houses a Geological SSSI - this lake is not accessible but is viewable down from the BBOWT Oakley Hill Reserve.

The site offers many add ons for a longer day out or family visit. It is located next to the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Heritage Railway that run regular services to Princes Risborough and back (www.chinnorrailway.co.uk). The Ridgeway National Trail runs through the site offers many options for longer walks and there are two BBOWT Nature Reserves in close proximity (Chinnor Hill and Oakley Hill - www.bbowt.org.uk/nature -reserves) offering additional Butterfly, Woodland and Chalk Grassland interest. Chinnor offers a range of cafes and pubs. Note there are no toilet facilities on site.

Nestled between the village of Chinnor and the foot of the Chiltern escarpment the site holds a range of habitat from a complex of lakes with varying depth, muddy and stony ‘beaches’ to Chiltern woodland, grassland and large areas of scrub. A compact site that works perfectly both for a short lunch time birding walk for an hour or a longer morning or afternoon trip.

Frustratingly the site is popular with local dog walkers and the lack of signage means they will often cause disturbance to birds using the lakes - visitors are kindly asked to walk at a respectful distance from the waters edge.




Red Route
Walk from the station car park around the edge of the chalk cliff - interest in the chalk grassland reversion, geology of the chalk and towards the first seasonal pool. Walk up, along and over the scrubby ‘shoulder’ towards the fishing lake on your right and seasonally wet willow and birch scrub on your left. Carry on and turn left along the broken concrete track between hawthorn scrub and sycamore copse. Turn right at the end of the fence line and walk through bramble scrub and to the first of two viewing screens over the lakes. Please do not pass here to avoid disturbance of birds on the water.

Blue Route
Double back along the concrete track and turn left taking the concrete track down through more hawthorn (and Juniper) scrub and sycamore copse to the second viewing screen with views across the water and the muddy/stony beaches. Carry on along the fence line for views across the chalk grassland reversion and scrub to the corner with good higher views along the lakes and escarpment ridge and woodland. Keep right and walk back along the woodland edge of the site back to the fishing lake.

Green Route
Either take a short drive up and park off the hill in the car park on the Ridgeway or take a longer walk from the end of the site up on to the Ridgeway and walk onto the BBOWT Oakley Hill reserve (good site for Butterflies) for good views down over the deeper ‘Blue Lagoon’ lake with it’s steep cliffs of exposed chalk (take your scope for better views of the water.) The Reserve is linear and doesn’t offer a round trip so double back onto the Ridgeway.


The Site

Winter

The main winter interest lies on the water (A) with large numbers Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe and Tufted Duck overwintering with occasional records of Gadwall, Shoveler and Wigeon. Winter Thrushes are common but in small numbers. The site attracts a good number of Gulls with Common Gull often recorded. Marsh Tit have been recorded venturing down from the Chiltern woodland (B) and a scan of the ridge line will often bring Raven and the occasional Peregrine amongst the Buzzards and Red Kites. Tawny Owl can frequently be heard calling. Meadow Pipits and Linnet will often be recorded in the grassland reversion (C) areas.


Spring
The wide range of scrub (D) and woodland brings good selection of warblers to the site including Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler. Peregrine and Hobby can often be seen hunting and hawking. At least one pair of Little Ringed Plover (E) have bred on the stony islands in recent years. Other waders such as Lapwing and Oystercatcher have looked like establishing territory but frequent disturbance from dog walkers has prevented any attempts.

Passage Migrants
The site attracts a good number of both spring and autumn migrants on passage. Common Sandpiper are the highlight with birds often long staying (E). Green Sandpiper are regular visitors as are Lapwing and Oystercatcher with Wood Sandpiper being a highlight in recent years. Wheatear, Redstart, Yellow Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher have been recorded in the Autumn along with Sand Martin and longer staying Stonechats often seen favouring the larger areas of bramble scrub (F).

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