Dinton Pastures ‘A Date With Nature’ Walk, Saturday 3rd February, 2024

This was a joint event with the Berkshire BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) Youth Group. We are always trying to encourage young people to become interested in birds and other wildlife, and this was an opportunity to share our ‘A Date with Nature’ walk at Dinton Pastures with them. BTO Youth Group Representatives, Raman and Johana, arranged for 8 of their members to attend. As we also had a large number of our own attendees, we split the group into two.

While one group followed the route along Black Swan Lake past the Activity Centre to the Bittern Hide, our group walked around the other side of Black Swan Lake, then Sandford Lake, to take a reverse route.

A Treecreeper was seen climbing a nearby tree trunk by some, and we soon heard the eloquent verses of a Song Thrush. Once at Black Swan Lake the young people enjoyed telescope views of Great Crested Grebes, together with some words on the origin of the RSPB and the grebes’ role in this. Two species of small birds then delighted everyone as a restless family of Long-tailed Tits gave very close views, as did a typically active Goldcrest, which was a first for some. Nearby trees revealed perching Stock Doves, which enabled clear comparison of the fieldmarks between these and the more numerous Wood Pigeons.

Sandford Lake illustrated a wide range of duck species, and it was interesting for the young people to see the plumage differences, especially comparing Pochard and Wigeon. A Little Egret also showed off its yellow feet to good effect. Approaching Lavell’s Lake it was good to visit the new Teal Hide with its wheelchair ramp and raised position, even if we only, appropriately, saw some Teal. At the Bittern Hide three Snipe were observed, with the young people impressed by their wonderfully cryptic plumage as they nestled camouflaged on the bank.

On the walk back by the Activity Centre, an Oystercatcher posed for us on a pontoon, and we managed to pick out some Common Gulls amongst the Black-headed Gulls.

The BTO Youth Representatives said they really enjoyed our joint event, and it was invigorating for the rest of us to share the walk with such enthusiastic young people.

Alan Moore