Weekday and Weekend Walks, and Weekend Coach Outings

Little Marlow Gravel Pits 2019
New Year's Day morning walk

Date: Tuesday 1 January 2019 at 10:00


On a slightly overcast morning, the early birds to the car park were greeted not by some worms but by the melodious sound of a song thrush singing its heart out in a nearby tree. As more people arrived and New Year greetings exchanged, redwing, magpie, robin and long-tailed tits were added to the list.

By 9.50 am, 35 people were wrapped up ready for the ‘off’ but our leader was missing! A phone call revealed that Brian Reeve had to pull out at the last minute due to a technical hitch at home, so Brian Clews kindly volunteered (with his arm twisted behind his back) to lead the group.

First stop after crossing the railway line was the River Thames where mallard, coot, mute swan were seen and in the distance on the hills, a red kite and a buzzard. Closer by, in the trees next to the railway, two great spotted woodpeckers, a male and a female, were observed high up in the branches, whilst large numbers of black-headed gulls strutted about in a huge puddle below.

After re-crossing the railway line, we turned our attention to the main gravel pit, where we were able to add pochard, great crested grebe, shoveler, tufted duck, pied wagtail, lapwing, grey heron, Egyptian geese and cormorant, sharing telescopes so that most people had good views of the birds. We were joined by person number 36 who had had a lie -in!! No names mentioned Jane. Further along, with slightly better views of the reed beds next to the spit, some considerable time was spent observing snipe, definitely common present, but some question as to whether there were jack snipe as well. They were all too far away and too hidden in the reeds to get any decent ID photos. The experts' definite conclusion was two jack snipe.

The spit itself was covered in hundreds of gulls and the experts in the group gave some of us a gull identification lesson on how to pick out certain distinguishing features of each of the species, notably great black-backed (GBBG), lesser black-backed, common and herring gull, all of which were present. Discussion ensued as to whether one large gull with a black bill was a Caspian gull or a juvenile GBBG. Not added to the list as a Caspian.

Leaving the gravel pit and passing the cottage with the feeders, one or two members were lucky enough to see a coal tit, but little else apart from a solitary redwing, until we had turned off the main path, crossed the stream and walked into the back fields where we found pheasant and two red-legged partridges. No more birds were seen until we reached the other side of the gravel pit. By now the sun had put in a welcome appearance but made it difficult to see (mustn’t complain) across the water, but several little egrets were spotted near the island plus a gadwall.

Further along the muddy path we reached siskin corner but atypically there was not a single siskin to be seen! No redpolls or goldcrests either. The last stretch across the field to the iron gate held nothing but a rainbow, but on our arrival back in the car park, we were treated to splendid views of a treecreeper – a great end to a morning’s stroll.

Special thanks to Brian Clews for leading and his pearls of wisdom and commiserations to Brian R and Helen G for missing out on some excellent company. Oh, and a few birds !

Click Here to see photos from the walk


Little Marlow Gravel Pits, 1/1/2019, overcast

Mute Swan

Greylag Goose

Canada Goose

Egyptian Goose







Tufted Duck

Red-legged Partridge



Little Egret

Grey Heron

Great Crested Grebe

Red Kite


Common Buzzard




Jack Snipe


Black-headed Gull

Common Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Stock Dove

Wood Pigeon

Collared Dove

Green Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Ring-necked parakeet





Carrion Crow

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Coal Tit

Long-tailed Tit






Song Thrush




Grey Wagtail

Pied Wagtail





60 Bird Species seen

Other Wildlife


Grey Squirrel

36 People

---- Original Programme Information ----

Meet at 10.00 am in the Spade Oak car park on Coldmoorholme Lane, near SL8 5PT. OS SU883875 lat/Long: 51.5796, -0.7260

Click here for a map of the car park location. No facilities, but there is a pub just up the road.

Map of Spade Oak Nature Reserve Our traditional New Year's morning bird watching walk around Little Marlow Gravel Pits. A level walk of around two miles, on footpaths that are often very muddy - Wellingtons strongly recommended.

Plenty of wildfowl and gulls. Expect wigeon, shoveler, gadwall and teal, with a chance of goldeneye or even goosander on this man made lake and sand spit. There is also woodland with the common woodland birds.

In 2018 there were 57 species - can we do even better this time? Click here for the 2018 bird list

New telescope, binoculars or camera for Christmas? Ideal chance to try it out!

Click here for information about Little Marlow Gravel pits


Marlow Gravel Pits