Some of the gravel pits in the area are still used for gravel extraction so are constantly changing, with the kind co-operation of the owners Hadleys, the TABCG help to protect breeding species at some of these key sites.
The mix of gravel pits, a landfill tip, dense scrub and well established hedgerows play a large part in the diverse selection of species that can be found here during the year, Wildfowl,Gulls & Warblers all thrive during their respected seasons and the Pingewood area plays a big part in the survival of Nightingale in Berkshire. This species relies heavily on dense scrubland which is abundant in this area, Nightingales can often be heard singing their powerful 'rich & fluty' song at the Searles Lane complex from mid-April until they find a suitable mate. Once you've heard one you will never forget the experience!
Pingewood can offer something at all times of the year but is most productive during passage migration when anything can turn up.
Spring brings passage migration with Grebes, Ducks, Waders, Wagtails,Wheatear & Warblers all arriving. Sand & House Martin, Swallow & Swift can all be seen in large numbers as they stop to fuel up before continuing their migration.
In summer the hedgerows, bushes and reedbeds are alive with activity, a good selection of Warblers can be found skulking amongst the undergrowth and there's a very good chance of seeing Hobbies as the hawk insects of the pits.
Autumn & Winter brings the possibility of something special as passage waders move south, Rarer Grebes and Ducks stop off and Gull numbers in the area rise as they congregate at the nearby Moatlands roost in the evenings.
During the daytime many Gulls from the roost can be found feeding around the Smallmead Tip area, here large numbers congregate to feed from the landfill site often returning to Searles Lane to preen and clean. Patient viewing from either of these site could turn up something special, perhaps another Laughing Gull!
Burnthouse Lane Pits - SU678684 K on map
From the Burghfield Road head east along Amners Farm Road taking the turning right along Burnthouse Lane towards the R.O.F Burghfield facility, a small lay-by can be found opposite the Burnthouse pit's and a path leads up the bank to the best viewing point of the gravel pits, becareful as you reach the top of the bank as it's easy to scare many of the birds that are on the pit's. From the bank near the road it is possible to scan the ever changing pit's.(Under No Circumstances View The R.O.F Facility As It Is A Sensitive Research Establishment-You Do So At Your Own Risk!)
Searles Lane - SU687702 B,C,D on map
Searles Lane can be accessed from Berry Lane and has a small layby which has enough room for a few cars. There is a small footpath that leads east and between the Searles Lane North and South pits, from this path there are a number of viewing points that look out on to the pits.
The pathways are lined with established scrub and thickets which offer suitable habitat for many different species of bird, in turn the gravel pits host many species of Wildfowl giving a chance to view a varried selction of birds at all times of year.
In spring and summer the bushes and thickets around the pits host many of the Warbler species returning to these shores to breed, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Common & Lesser Whitethroat can often be seen and heard.
This is also another very important area for the Nightingale and males can be heard singing from early spring and until they mate, early morning or night being the best time to hear them in their full splendour. Autumn and winter brings a good number of wildfowl which include Goldeneye and possible Black-necked Grebe, Scaup & Red-crested Pochard. Little Egret and Bittern have become more regular sightings here and searching amongst the Gull flocks can turn-up Caspian, Yellow-legged & Mediterranean Gull. Keep an eye out for Kingfisher and an ear out for Cetti's Warbler as well.
Autumn and winter brings a good number of wildfowl which include Goldeneye and possible Black-necked Grebe, Scaup & Red-crested Pochard.
Little Egret and Bittern have become more regular sightings here and searching amongst the Gull flocks can turn-up Caspian, Yellow-legged & Mediterranean Gull. Keep an eye out for Kingfisher and an ear out for Cetti's Warbler as well.
Resident: Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Mallard,Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Red Kite, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed & Herring Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little & Tawny Owl, Kingfisher,Green&Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Pied & Grey Wagtail. Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song & Mistle Thrush, Common Tit & FinchSpecies, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.