Historic Overton guided walk - 11th June 2006

(The birdy, bug and botanical bit!)

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A walk with the Overton Society around the "Historic Overton", Overton Heritage and Nature Trail.

Eight members of the Overton and Overton Biodiversity Societies attended on a very warm afternoon to walk the Historic Overton trail. The heat of early summer was brought down a little by the presence of heavy clouding and a very light breeze, but British through and through, there were those that complained about the good weather!

A quick identification session sorting out Swift, Swallow and House Martin outside the Community Centre was had before we moved off west along the High Street. Blackbird, House Sparrow, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Starling, Jackdaw, Rook and Pied Wagtails were all noted over and about what is probably the busiest road in the village. A House Martin nest found was the first noted this year, perhaps yet another sign of diminished numbers locally.

Walking north down Bridge Street Chaffinches were in song and The Test held six 'Goldfish' and five Brown Trout, Mallard and Coot being the more usual bird fare here. Wren, Robin and Blue Tit were picked out calling in the trees prior to The Old Rectory but there was no sign of the previously regular Little Owl at Court Farm House / Little Court. Hedge Woundwort had just started to flower whereas Herb Robert and other Storks and Cranesbills had been out for some time.

The trees by the Recreation Ground car park held two Linnets, the male particularly vocal, on the way back from visiting St. Mary's Church and both Swallow and Swift were found overhead. Goldfinch were occasionally noted moving over but none were seen well enough to make the most of their 'cage bird' colouring. Single Small White and Brimstones were on the wing about the hedgerows and a hoverfly hovered over Red Valerian.

Moving off down Silk Mill Lane, Song Thrush and Moorhen were heard from the direction of Town Meadow and The Test, the latter apparently surprised by something unseen. A Speckled Wood settled in the open after floating in front of a walker and a Chiffchaff joined the songsters and other migrants already noted. A huffing-and-puffing Red-legged Partridge sat out on a hedgerow of a cottage garden, proclaiming his right to the territory over all other contenders. A singing Goldcrest proved that all had yet to get to the age where their hearing would not pick up this high-pitched and diminutive conifer-creeper. A Great Tit was more vocal but remained as well hidden.

Visiting The Lynch saw a Sparrowhawk disappearing over the gardens but little else about the stream, the aroma of Honeysuckle was however strong in the air. A Buzzard circled low over the garages, being harassed by corvids, but appeared unconcerned by this unwanted attention before it drifted off towards the sewage works. Tufted Ducks and Gadwall were on the pool in the Southington Mill garden and a Moorhen played a waiting game as it hid under bankside vegetation, a struggle as to whether it or the observers would give up first.

The pools off Southington Lane were busy with young wildfowl: Canada Geese, Gadwall, Coot and Mallards all managing to produce in the back garden of Southington House. The trees flanking the lane held a foraging family of Long-tailed Tits, perhaps from the nest found in Silk Mill Lane earlier in the year. Lesser Periwinkle were still strongly in flower whilst Greater Celandine were all but over, Yellow Corydalis hung on in the sun and Dog's Mercury were in the process of producing their camouflaged seeds. Movement and sound in a Sycamore alerted the assembled to a Great Spotted Woodpecker, this followed up by another, and then another in the same tree - a small family group.

Crossing to Vinns Lane and three Swallows were gliding over the cottage gardens and adjacent paddocks. Entering the track that leads south to the Dellands track confirmation of an Elm also brought about the finding of several nymphal Great Green Bush-crickets as they sheltered under its' leaves. A damselfly here was captured and proved to be an Azure Damselfly, the first known of in the Parish. The trees at the southernmost junction held a Grey Squirrel and territorial Speckled Woods were chasing about the east to west track, before settling in the dappled, and therefore camouflaging, higher reaches of the trees. Moving towards had a Coal Tit in one of the few conifers, vocal but remaining hidden as the group moved past.

A singing Dunnock was in a Dellands garden and the pathside banking of others held flowering Fox-and-cubs, possibly the most stunning of the many species within the dandelion complex of plants and one that is very restricted locally.

The walk down Greyhound Lane and Winchester Street was quieter, the Swifts and House Martins continuing to be seen overhead, Jackdaws and Blackbirds on roof tops and House Sparrows and Chaffinches being vocal about the more mature garden vegetation.

Over 2 ½ hours after leaving the Community Centre the group returned, 36 bird species having been recorded, as well as many insects and plants, and the single squirrel.

The above were additions to the main focus of the walk, the history of the village that was so well covered by Adrian Martin as we moved from road to road. We were shown things that we pass on a daily basis and would never normally pay any attention to, let alone realise the significance of, both within the village and on a grander scale. The residential and business establishments passed during much of the trail, the church, the coach ways, paths and other thoroughfares that now make up the village, we were to learn of their origins and the changes that have taken place over the time that it has taken to shape the current village structure. Thank you Adrian.

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Peter E. Hutchins

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