Thursday, 8 July 2010
Horseshoe Lake and Finchampstead Ridges
I was very taken with the Broad Bodied Chaser - a type of dragonfly - that I spotted on my last walk, near Crockham Heath. So I decided to go out today on a walk expressly chosen with dragon fly spotting in mind. It was effectively Moor Green Lakes and Finchampstead in reverse.
You start at Horseshoe lake, between Yately and Finchampstead and follow the Blackwater east for about a mile and a half, with the three Moor Green Lakes (Horseshoe Lake, Grove Lake and Colebook Lake - all former gravel pits) on the right. I saw lots of damsel flies in several colours, but found them very hard to photograph, being so small. It seemed fairly clear that to have any chance you needed to find one posed with a nice leaf behind it - otherwise I could not persuade my camera to focus. There were a lot of presumably newly-emerged Commas basking on Bramble leaves, which perhaps I would not have noticed if I hadn't been scanning for dragonflies.
Reaching the end of Colebrook Lake, you turn right along its side to reach the road and shortly to enter Finchampstead Ridges. After a every pleasant section of woodland you reach Spout Pond.
At first it seemed a bit dried up, but it was soon revealed to be teeming with life. When the sun was shining several large dragonflies could be seen cruising up and down. The instant the sun went behind the clouds they stopped and roosted on the tips of the large reeds at the centre and sides of the pond.
The telephoto lens revealed that one was a large and impressive Emperor Dragonfly, and another was this splendid Four-Spotted Chaser. I felt this was mission accomplished.
Meanwhile, the sunny clearing which surrounded the lake had attracted a pair of Silver-Washed Fritillaries, some Brimstones and this White Admiral.
I spent about an hour there, watching and taking the odd photo. Eventually I dragged myself away to walk the rest of the way through the woodland, along a road a bit and then down through a pretty flower meadow back to the start.
From: Blackwater Valley Circular Walks (Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership).
Map: Explorer 159 (Reading, Wokingham and Pangbourne).
Distance: just under four miles.
Conditions: hot and sunny, intermittent cloud.
Rating: four stars - at least at this time of year.