Spring - Orchids are back!

Green-winged Orchids - Woodside Lane
If one looks along the southern verge of Woodside Lane in Lymington the purple flowering spikes of Green-winged Orchids have appeared.
Green-winged Orchid - Woodside Lane

They are also in flower at Durlston Country Park along with Early Purple Orchids and a rather special species - Early Spider Orchid. The orchids and the masses of Cowslips in the fields west of the car park make it well worth the journey over there on a fine spring day. 

(See https://www.durlston.co.uk/durlston-today.aspx)

Early Spider Orchid - Durlston

All photographs © Richard Coomber

Walk 19 April 2018 Puttles Bridge

Greater Stitchwort

16 members joined Angela on the hottest day of the year so far and the warmest since 27 August last year. A few days without rain and the Forest had dried out remarkably. We walked through Clumber Inclosure accompanied by a fearless Roebuck, evidently used to people. Overhead a male Goshawk enjoyed the thermals and a Buzzard flew from tree to tree. Woodland flowers included Tutsan, (a native Hypericum whose leaves are said to prevent bookworm if placed between the pages of books), Dog Violet, Primrose, Lesser Celandine, Greater Stitchwort, Wood Spurge, Wood Sorrel and Wood Anemone. Approaching Holm Hill the Birch catkins were dispensing quantities of pollen, to the distress of hay fever sufferers. Willow Warblers were calling among the Goat Willows by the stream and Bog Myrtle grew in the damp area beside the stream. A shoal of Minnows inhabited the stream shallows and Royal Fern Osmunda regalis was an exciting find in a ditch. The Victorians collected this plant almost to extinction in the Forest. Other bog plants seen included Lesser Spearwort, Bog Pondweed Potamogeton polygonifolia, starwort sp, Marsh-marigold, Creeping Willow and Water Crowfoot.
Green Tiger Beetles - mating pair
Out on the heath Common Lizards were taking advantage of the sunshine to warm up and heathland birds, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Skylark were noted. Skylarks were probably nesting as the male flew up and sang. A pair of mating Green

Tiger Beetles Cicindela campestris provided coffee break entertainment and, among other insects, we saw Peacock and Brimstone butterflies.

Photographs © Chris Robinson

Outing 12 April 2018 London Wetland Centre

Peacock Tower
Ring-necked Parakeet

Adrian and Kay arranged the well-supported Lym Nats coach trip to the London Wetland Centre, Barnes. It was a grey and rather gloomy day, so it seemed rather strange not to see some of the taller London landmarks.

It was a great day out spent wandering the well-laid out paths bird watching, looking at the more unfamiliar wildfowl species in the collection pens and socialising. Around the visitor centre were Ring-necked Parakeets, whilst over the tracks and lagoons flitted Sand Martins newly arrived from Africa. Other summer visitors noted were Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Swallow and Willow Warbler. Some of those birding from the Peacock Tower saw a lethargic Jack Snipe, perhaps the bird of the day.

Red Deadnettle
The interesting collection from all over the world showed how varied wildfowl species can be from smart Emperor Geese to the rather more colourful drake Hooded Merganser. Also admired was a pair of White-naped Cranes.

Around some of the ponds clumps of Marsh-marigold brightened the otherwise dull scene. Elsewhere other plants in flower included Common Horsetail and Red and White Deadnettles, the former also being found in a white variety.

Grey Heron - adult

New Forest Non-native invasive Plant Project

Last night (27 March) was our AGM, but that was done and dusted in about 10 minutes for it was more or less the warm-up act before an excellent talk by Joanne Gore on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's New Forest Non-native invasive Plant Project. Joanne wondered if anyone might like to volunteer to help pull up Himalayan Balsam along the Lymington River catchment area.

Just in case anyone didn't pick up the details, or who missed the meeting and might be interested, the poster giving details is reproduced below.


Walk report: 15 March 2018 Setthorns

On a pleasant morning after heavy overnight rain, 13 members led by Pam started a walk through Setthorns Inclosure. The name Setthorns is derived from  the practice of sowing acorns with thorn seed, to help prevent young plants being grazed. There was plenty of bird song, and  Angela pointed out the call of a Bullfinch, which we then saw perched above us.

After leaving the main track we picked our way down a very wet and muddy path, and took the opportunity to refresh our identification of lichens, one short branch had Parmelia caperata, Usnea, and Evernia prunastri (Oak Moss) growing on it. At the bottom of the path we had a good view of two Siskins and a Dunnock, which were on the ground around the puddles. Here the shoots of Bluebells were also showing.

We then turned onto one of the main tracks  leading up to the turning for Hill Tops and Pine Top caravan site. Along the way we saw 2 Buzzards soaring overhead, then a Jay, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Song Thrush and more Siskin, hearing the cooing of a Stock Dove in the background. As we walked through the extensive caravan park we came across a small herd of Shetland ponies resting between the vans, along with several fat Grey Squirrels scurrying around. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming and was also seen.

Yellow Brain
Two Victorian bridges
On reaching the disused railway track known as Castleman’s Corkscrew, which originally ran from Southampton to Dorchester via the New Forest, we turned right to follow the track. Several Hart’s-tongue Ferns were growing at the base of the steep tree lined embankments, also Hard Ferns were present. We then passed under 2 fine Victorian brick built bridges before coming into the open to look at a bright yellow orange fungus, Yellow Brain Tremella mesenterica, growing on gorse. Interestingly further on Wall-rue, a small lime loving fern was growing on the lime mortar between the old brick work.
Bracken Map

Finally we turned back into the inclosure taking a close look at wood stacks to find the lichen Cladonia and noting the many variations in the bracket fungus Turkeytail Trametes virsicolor growing beside Bitter Oysterling Panellus stipticus.

Bitter Oysterling
Other Birds:- Magpie, Jackdaw, Robin, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch and Carrion Crow.
Butterflies:- Brimstone.
Other fungi:- Bracken Map Rhopographus filicinus and Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum (PP)

Photos © Richard Coomber


Hopefully we have seen the end of the 'Beasts from the East' and as the days warm and lengthen the pace of Spring will increase.

During the cold spells several members had interesting birds in their gardens including Blackcap, Reed Buntings, Fieldfares and Redwings, but perhaps the best we have heard of so far was a Hawfinch in one lucky member's garden!

Juvenile Brents and an adult
Wheatear at Lower Pennington Lane 
Over the last few months groups of birdwatchers have been doing co-ordinated counts of the Brent Geese along the Solent and one of the things noted was the almost complete lack of juvenile geese in the flocks. Juveniles have pale bars on their wings. It transpires that on their breeding grounds in Arctic Russia 2017 was a bad year for Lemmings, a species that Rough-legged Buzzards, skuas, Arctic Foxes and other high-Arctic predators depend. With few Lemmings they turned to the next best thing - Brent Geese goslings. In theory this coming summer should see an increase in Lemmings, so therefore we should see more juvenile Brents next winter - time will tell!  

In spite of the cold weather early summer migrants have started to appear with a scattering of
Brimstone butterfly
Wheatears from a number of places in the area and Sand Martins being reported from Pennington Marshes and Blashford Lakes.

We had a Brimstone butterfly on Pam Poole's Lym Nats walk in Setthorns last week and in three weeks or so it will be worth looking out for the Green-winged Orchids along Woodside Lane, Lymington.

Green-winged Orchid

If you have any interesting sightings you would like to share, then please let us know and we'll try to add it to the blog as and when practical.

All photos © Richard Coomber