Love Hambrook


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Scrub is restricted to the disused railway embankment, plus a number of trees and bushes scattered along the river and ditch banks, and a small area of willow (osier) coppice near the Whitehall Lane level crossing.  The embankment can support a surprising variety of birds at any time of year.  Common garden species such as blue and great tit, wren, blackbird, robin, chaffinch and dunnock are often present in the thickets, while wood pigeons and stock doves (upper right) may be perched in the tall poplars.  Long-tailed tits sometimes venture in from the other side of the river.  In summer any scrubby area may support a pair of breeding whitethroats or blackcaps;  chiffchaffs occur mainly on spring or autumn passage.  The small osier bed may support breeding reed buntings and passage chiffchaffs.


In autumn, migrants moving south have to refuel en route, and a good place to see them feeding up is along the north east side of the embankment, and its continuation as a line of scrub along the present railway track behind the boardwalk.  On an early September morning this area can be a little suntrap, very attractive to birds after a chilly night, and there may be a veritable feeding frenzy of warblers, along with tits, robins. spotted flycatchers (lower right) and even pied flycatcher.  The disused railway embankment acts both as a barrier and as a corridor:  for birds moving up or down the valley it is a minor obstruction, and will occasionally encourage flocks of goldfinches or redwings to break their journey;  but it also seems to act as a link between the more abundant scrub across the river and woodland to the north of the Ashford railway line, enabling long-tailed tits, great spotted woodpeckers and other species to move across the reserve while remaining in cover.


                                                                                                NUMBERS PRESENT


                                                                                           Winter                     Summer

                                Wood pigeon                                    5-10                           2-4

                                Stock dove                                        1-6                              1-3

                                Robin                                                 1-6                              1-4

                                Dunnock                                           1-4                              1-2

                                Wren                                                  1-9                              1-9


                                Blackbird                                          1-15                            1-7

                                Blue tit                                          Up to 11                     Up to 10

                                Great tit                                        Up to 11                      Up to 5

                                Long-tailed tit                              Up to 15                      Up to 17

                                Whitethroat                                     0                                  1-8


                                Blackcap                                           0                                 1-5

                                Chiffchaff                                          0                                 1-7

                                Chaffinch                                         1-4                               1-3

                                Reed bunting                                   0                                   2




BSc=stockdove BSc=spottedflycatcher bird intro