Wraysbury - more info

Map of Wraysbury pits -  click to enlarge in new window                 

This, as well as the map, deals with the southern end of the extensive old workings. The northern pits are now generally known as Horton GPs and they're dealt with below. For these southern pits there are two points of access (and parking). Either at Wraysbury station [3.5, L.2] or at the [M25] Junction 13 end [5.2, C.5].

Parking is problematic at the J13 access. Many birders park in ‘Bell Weir Close’ [6.2, B.4] but this is not appreciated by residents if too many appear at once - take care not to park in the bays reserved for the garage. Skating over that problem you can either walk up the path which borders the Colne [5.3, B.6] or walk a little way along the slip road to the motorway before taking a path off to the left by the side of the sailing club [7,C] – take care crossing the road! If you take this route you should know that whether you fork left or right [7.5, D.9] you may come across VERY overgrown sections. The more eastern path gains a little height and gives a panoramic view at one point. Both routes give views over the pits and end up at a scrubby area bordering the railway line – usually good for Whitethroat and finches. The part of the footpath at [5, I.9] can be under water so it’s often safer to double back a little and take the path beside the Colne to the metal bridge.

The Colne Brook walk takes you along a narrow path between a pit and the river. Full of various warblers. I’ve had all three peckers [LSW only once!]. Normally little on the pits in the late Spring/Summer but holds Smew & goosander, among other during the winter. Greater scaup are also fairly regular.

Near the end of this path there is a “Footpath” sign [5, I.5] which goes off to the left. This, too, can be a bit overgrown but, if the water levels are high, is preferable to continuing to the railway line and then going west along the southern edge of one of the other pits. This is often flooded and can be dangerously slippery. You may miss the Gold, Chaff and Bullfinches which are possible near the northern end just before the railway lines - you could go as far as the railway and then double back. Either way you’ll end up at a metal bridge [4.5, I.5] over the Colne.

After crossing the bridge an area of scrub and then rough grass opens out. This is full of warblers, Reed Bunting, Linnet, winter thrushes, finches. A path runs east to west with older, denser scrub on the left and a slightly more open habitat on the right. Grasshopper warblers on the left for the past few years at least [2001-03]. Swift, hirundines and Hobby overhead. After 200-300 metres you will cross a stream [3.2, H.2] when the scrub largely gives way to rough grassland. Gropper on the left immediately after this in 2000 [3, H] and further on the right [2002]. You can take a path [3.2, H.2]  south just before the stream which will take you around the scrubby area – south then east [3.9, F.3] along the back then north again to take you back to the metal bridge. The southern edge is backed by a stream which holds Reed Warbler. You’ll have Reed on the right and Sedge on the left as you walk. And if it’s getting dark, the reeling of Grasshopper!

Please don’t walk through the middle of this area as it, obviously, contains breeding birds!

The “rough-grass” area over the stream [ rect: 2,E to 4,H] looks like Short-eared owl  winter habitat and they have been found just about every year [usually second winter]. Do take care at dusk as there are lots of hidden holes – some very wet and thigh deep! (If you’re just interested in this area the best place to park is Wraysbury Station car park and follow the footpath south [3.3, L] – you’re less likely to end up in one of the pits).

The paths at Wraysbury can be very wet and muddy so wellies are needed, in all but the height of Summer, to be sure of dry feet! Also don’t leave it too late without a torch - the way back in the dark can be very dangerous – in that case parking at Wraysbury station may be a better bet. But be aware that there are frequent car break-ins in the station car-park (evidenced by many areas of broken glass!)

Horton-GPs-map.jpg (34619 bytes)

Horton pits are still having bits done to them and there's often some work there. You can park at either end though there's little space in either Park lane or Douglas road. It's a fairly straight forward walk, following the path between the chain of pits. Take care crossing the railway line a teenager died there a couple of years ago! The marshy land north of the tracks used to be excellent for Jack Snipe.  CDRH getting record numbers in 2001 but recent "improvement" has reduced the boggy area to a fraction. The pit north-east of the railway line has been good for waders but changes in 2002/3 may make this less likely in the future. It did hold a Black-necked grebe in 2001. Marek had a bittern on one of the islands on the large pit NW of the railway spring 2003 and it is  a banker site for parakeets.