Sunday 25th February – Panshanger Park

Nine members met up at the very popular Panshanger Park car park for February’s Sunday Stroll – a first time visit for a couple of people. The early morning mist eventually lifted to leave a dry and often sunny day.

Panshanger Park is made up of woodland, lakes, ponds, river, reedbed and grassland which together support a huge amount of wildlife. This former sand and gravel quarry was restored and opened to the public in 2014 and is now managed by the Herts and Middx Wildlife Trust on behalf of owners, Tarmac. It is hard to believe that you would have seen lorries, diggers and heavy machinery churning up the site a little over a decade ago.

We started off by walking down to the Osprey Lake to see what we could find out on the waters. A lone female Siskin was spotted in a small alder at the edge of the lake and a fine male Stonechat on the barbed wire fence. As we began to climb up the hill into the woodland we could hear several bird songs: the Song Thrush living up to its name as it advertised for a mate and Great Tits with their rather monotonous two note ‘teacher, teacher’ call.

It was nice to see the early signs of spring, with Snowdrops and Daffodils carpeting the woodland floor. The sun was now shining through the clouds bringing out the local raptors; a Peregrine flew over and the distinctive ‘flap, flap, glide’ flight identified a Sparrowhawk above us, we also picked out both Red Kite and Common Buzzard, with up to five Buzzards soaring over our heads at one point.

We then headed down to the River Mimram, which passes through the reserve. The HMWT are working on this chalk stream improving it for the specialist creatures which inhabit this globally rare habitat, including the endangered Water Vole.

Our route brought us back to the lakes and the viewpoint overlooking Osprey Lake. It was then time to return to the rather crowded car park but we all agreed it was a pleasant walk around this picturesque country park.

Next month’s Sunday Stroll will be to Amwell Nature Reserve near Ware on Sunday 10 March. Please note: the meeting point for this walk is the car park at Stanstead Abbotts. Postcode: SG12 8AS – what3words: grew.energy.mutual. – not in Amwell Lane where there can be limited parking at the side of the road, especially at weekends.