The Cholsey & Wallingford  Railway

  The Bunk Line - Home of the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway Preservation Society 

Nature look-out - what to look out for down the line

Heritage railways are also a haven for wildlife as they are often undisturbed for long periods of time. Planting and managing hedgerows can create corridors along which wildlife can travel between what otherwise might be fragmented communities that may be too small to survive. It is our intention to briefly describe what might be seen along our line between Wallingford and Cholsey.

Chairman Tony has given a write up as to what you can see in the summer months.

From left: (1 & 2) Pyramidal Orchids, (3) Ox-eye daisies, (4)  Verbascums (5)  Dryads Saddle bracket fungi (6) Marble White butterfly

June / July

Towards the end of June numerous Pyramidal Orchids flower just to the Wallingford side of the crossing (left). Mostly they are dark pink in bud and lighter pink when the flowers open but there are also one or two white flowered stems (about 1 in 100 by my counting) and crosses between the two produce a range of pale pink flowers. The white flowered stems seem to have fewer flowers and are generally weaker. They are also to be seen along the bypass although mowing by the Council can sometimes be ill-timed.

The Ox-eye daisies are at their best along the embankments at this time of year and the leaves of several walnut trees along the line become fully expanded, like beech trees they are the last trees to come into leaf. In June there are numerous flowering Verbascums (V. nigra)  in the banks either side of the tracks, these often hybridise with garden Verbascums so the colour and flower size can be variable.

Another plant that becomes all too obvious are the horsetails which are abundant along Sewar Straight. These plants are hard to control, although anecdotally less abundant than they used to be, when they first emerge through the ballast they look finger-like, pink with a darker tip, but by late June they are green and photosynthetic. These are close relatives of the plants that thrived at the time of the dinosaurs.

This year seems to be a very good year for what appear to be Dryads Saddle bracket fungi, here (left) growing from the trunk of a horse chesnut tree. On one journey this month a pair of mallards were seen on one of the pits created by Grundon although being newly dug there is probably little or no food for them yet so it is not surprising they did not stay long. A fox was very often seen crossing the railway line between the level crossing and the station and the indicator lights for the crossing continue to be a favourite perching spot for a buzzard. 

Hard to spot is Marble White butterfly , there often seems to be a small number of these on a summers day either side of the main level crossing.

Where are we located

We are located in Wallingford, South Oxfordshire - around 30 mins from both Reading and Oxford.

Post Code: OX10 9GQ