16 June 2016 Setley Pond

Pam led this walk and writes: At the start of the walk there was torrential rain so we decided to wait to see if it cleared. Luckily it did which allowed us to set off in a southerly direction past the pond where numerous House Martins were calling and skimming the water. We then picked our way along a wet path down to the railway bridge leading to Milking Pound Bottom and then up to Shirley Holms.

Along this route we saw fresh Chicken of the Woods high up on an oak, as well as an active Honey Bees nest inside a hollow branch within an oak tree. There was plenty of bird song especially Chiffchaff (left) which we had good views of by the cottages at Jealous Lane. Although we walked along the heath much of the route took us past farms with tree lined hay meadows filled with buttercups, ideal for the swallows we later saw feeding on insects. The banks of the shallow ditches running along the track had Black Medick growing and the heathland had Heath Speedwell, Heath Bedstraw, Tormentil and Lousewort, with the boggy areas full of fragrant Bog Myrtle.

Coral Necklace
At Shirley Holms car park we found an area of Coral Necklace (right) with its strands floating in a puddle and a healthy stand of Heath Spotted Orchids. At this point the sun came out so we decided not to walk through the dense Holly woods but to enjoy the sun. We passed the old track leading to the Dominican Priory, formerly Shirley Holms Manor. There were large patches of Common Cow­-wheat (below) a semi­parasitic plant that grows on the roots of other plants. We then circled the heath stopping to view Bullfinches and then newly fledged Whitethroat which were fluttering about in the bracken, this was the highlight of the walk. Finally we retraced our steps back to the railway bridge, this being the only way to cross the track on this route.
Common Cow-wheat

02 June 2016 Osmunds Bushes

Marsh Cinquefoil

A rather cold morning but a wonderful location for seeing a good range of plants that prefer wet and boggy conditions. An excellent turnout of 23 members led by Carol.

Some of the more notable species were Alder Buckthorn, Bee Orchid (not in flower), Bogbean, Broad-leaved Helleborine (not in flower), Common Water Starwort, Gipsywort, Marsh Bedstraw, Marsh Cinquefoil (left), Meadow Thistle, Pennyroyal (not in flower), Quaking Grass, Sanicle, Southern Marsh Orchid and Sweet Flag (not in flower)

Ragged Robin

19 May 2016 Martin Down

Martin Dawn - Silens Lane end
It was a fine morning for our meeting at Martin Down, where we met our guide, Pete Durnell, at the Sillen Lane car park. We walked up to and along the Bokerley Ditch before returning to the start. Working for Hampshire County Council, and with a thorough knowledge of the Down, Pete was the ideal person to inform us about the area and the splendid variety of birds, butterflies and flowers we were to encounter during the walk.

Corn Bunting
Undoubtedly the best birds were the Turtle Doves. We heard their purring calls and saw two, with one performing a display flight after being watched well in a tree through a telescope. Martin Down is one of the few places in Hampshire where this migratory dove still breeds. Towards the end of the walk we came across a Corn Bunting (right) perched in the hedge near the car park, sadly another declining species. Also noted were Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff (heard only), Long-tailed Tit, Skylark and Common Buzzard.

Brimstone butterfly eggs

Butterflies were excellent.
Brimstone was the commonest and a female was discovered egg laying on the underside of fresh Blackthorn leaves (left)
Green Hairstreak

We also had good views of Green Hairstreak (right), Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, Small Heath, Small Blue and Orange-tip.

Early Purple Orchid

Flowers included - Early Purple     (leftand Green-winged Orchids, Chalk Milkwort,  Salad Burnet, Horseshoe and Kidney Vetches, Spindle, Lady's Bedstraw.

07 May 2016 Lucy Hill

It was a lovely sunny spring morning for the meeting at Lucy Hill led by Duncan.

We had a delightful walk in warm sunshine,with fresh green foliage coming to the Birch and Oak trees. A Wood Warbler was heard singing and being a declining species in our part of the world was perhaps the best bird of the day, although it couldn't match the excitement of the Cuckoo that was heard and seen as we neared the outskirts of Burley. For some it was the first of the year and sadly is yet another declining species. 

Common Buzzard
Seeing a Shelduck out in the middle of a damp area covered with golden Marsh Marigold flowers was perhaps a bit of a surprise, but a Song Thrush feeding young in a nest hidden deep in Ivy that smothered the trunk of a conifer was less so. A Buzzard (left) soared over the canopy and during the walk we recorded a number of the commoner woodland birds.

The new-born foal

In deep puddles along the edge of the track though the main area of woodland we discovered newts, tadpoles and also found several species of fungi along the way. The only butterfly was the conspicuous Brimstone. Was the mammalian star a very young foal with its mother?

21 April 2016 Wootton Bridge

Ann guided this walk that met at Wooton Bridge.

We walked north up the road and turned off onto the old railway line.  After a few yards we took a path on the left which led across Hag  Hill towards the road just north of Setthorns Camp.  Few flowering plants were showing but there were many Dog Violets.  We heard and saw Stonechats (below) and a Swallow flew over.

Stonechat - male
After crossing the road, walking down Horseshoe Bottom and partway up Hincheslea Hill we stopped for a few minutes in a spinney before continuing eastwards towards the crossing over White Moor.  This was still muddy and wet after the recent rains.  We regained the old railway line where there were many Primroses (below),  possibly due to a previous crossing keepers house, although no evidence of this remains.  We continued on the hard going of the railway, noting the very wet conditions on the south side of the line.


07 April 2016 Bramshaw Wood

Marge guided us on this circular walk in the north of the Forest. Unfortunately it was a dull morning that turned wet by mid-day. 

It was an interesting walk through Beech woodland where we found Jackdaws and Stock Doves, although the doves were only seen flying over the bare tree tops. The common denominator is that they are both hole nesting species and beech trees provide the nesting sites. We had several Nuthatch sightings and saw a Treecreeper when relaxing at half time. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard. 

Round-leaved Water Crowfoot

There were very few flowers during much of the walk, most noticeably an absence of Lesser Celandines which were growing around Nomansland as we returned towards the car park. We found Round-leaved Water Crowfoot (below). We left wondering how a colossal sawn section of tree trunk came to be in the middle of the woods when the stump was nowhere in the vicinity.

17 March 2016 Parc Pale/Pondhead

Angela guided us on a sunny spring morning on a circular walk around part of Pondhead Inclosure near Lyndhurst. This area of woodland is managed by Pondhead Conservation Volunteers, who coppice some areas and also produce charcoal for sale locally to raise funds for their activities.

Coppiced Hazel in Pondhead

As we walked from the car park we found Redwings and Stonechat in and around the bushes and small trees and during the walk the best birds seen were Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatches, and a Green Woodpecker heard. 


Hazel - the tiny female flower

We were too early in the season for much in the way of spring flowers. We admired the male Hazel catkins and careful searching discovered the tiny red female flower (left). Also noted were Round-leaved Water Crowfoot, Butcher's Broom, Hard Fern and Yew.

06 March 2016 Maiden Lane - Bird Walk

A cool but quite bright morning with a high tide and no problem from the wind; we were about a dozen in the party with Adrian leading. There were a lot of waterfowl on Normandy lagoon. The highlight of the morning was good views of two Slavonian Grebes. We didn’t go on around and down Normandy Lane as usual but retraced our steps from the farthest point near the Yacht Haven. A good morning with a rewarding total of 45 bird species that also included Dark-bellied Brent Goose (below), Black-tailed Godwit, Knot and Greenshank.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese
Slavonian Grebe in winter plumage

03 March 2016 Broomy Walk

Pam led eleven of us on a cold and drizzly morning to walk an anticlockwise circular route from Broomy Walk car park to the High Corner Inn and around Amberslade Bottom where the ground was very wet. However by the time we reached the High Corner Inn the sun came out and spring was in the air with plenty of bird song and the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Points of interest were a Yew covered with creamy white male flowers (below) and Butcher's Broom with plenty of red berries, also the Polypody (fern) growing on the trunk and branches of a beech. Butcher’s Broom was used in the seventeenth century to scour butchers’ chopping blocks and was also put around the meat to prevent mice getting to it. The plant has flattened stems which look like leaves and these are very sharp and spiky.

By the edge of Broomy enclosure we stopped to listen to Woodlark singing and there was a debate about a bird of prey which flew over as to whether this was a Sparrowhawk or a Goshawk. We then heard the haunting call from the enclosure of Goshawk which could have been the bird we had seen.

On the way back we had lovely views across the forest to the Ogdens and beyond and as this is a very open part of the forest we were lucky to find that the wind was not too strong.

Birds seen included: Canada Goose, Buzzard, Wren, Robin, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch. Blue & Great Tits, Goldcrest, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Chaffinch.
Birds only heard were: Goshawk, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodlark and Jay.

Yew in flower

18 February 2016 Hordle Manor Farm

Mike and Mary led a party of 14 that set off inland from Hordle Manor Cliff car park. We crossed Danes Stream, which had overflowed into the surrounding meadow, and was a challenge for those not in wellingtons. Looking down on the woodland area we spotted the pheasant feeding stations, but generally very few birds were visible. When we arrived into the meadows we saw crows (Corvids), Starlings and Meadow Pipits.

Our route then took us along the road and into the cornfield, on re-entering the forest Angela pointed out a series of differing woodland ferns. We could hear a Buzzard over the tree line, and eventually saw it flying overhead. The highlight of the walk was an extremely close sighting of a Skylark on the ground at the golf links, which remained in place for several minutes whilst we studied it closely.

We then walked onto the cliff area and noted the alarming rate of coastal erosion, where coastal defences were clearly visible on the beach, previously sited on the cliff top. Barton cliffs are geologically very important, especially for their fossil content.

07 February 2016 Keyhaven Bird Walk

In the lull after Storm Imogen, Brian + 10 set off from Keyhaven following the 5km Brent Trail clockwise with a short detour to take in the Western Balancing Pond. With much bird activity the walk was to last all of 3 hours.

Selected sightings:

Western Balancing Pond: Greylag Goose
Along the "Ancient Highway": Common Buzzards being mobbed by Carrion Crows, Raven, male Stonechat, Kestrel
Pond/lake at the end of Lower Pennington Lane: Gadwall, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull
Pennington Marsh/Shoveler Pools: large numbers of Golden Plover
Fishtail Lagoon: 5 Spoonbills (4 in a short flight and all 5 feeding), Common Snipe (bottom)
Spoonbills in flight
Keyhaven Lagoon: another Spoonbill
Iley Point: Reed Bunting
Offshore: Red-breasted Meganser, Knot, Long-tailed duck

The minimum number of species sighted was 50 with a few others not corroborated and some debate over the various species of pipits.
Common Snipe

04 February 2016 Cadman's Pool

Angela’s aim for this outing was to try and keep our feet dry and out of the boggy ground still prevailing through the Forest. Although there were a couple of muddy patches along the paths we did manage to stay fairly clean.

Cadman’s Pool is named after Arthur Cadman who was Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest from 1959 to 1968 and had the pool created during his period in office. He was an expert on British deer and wildfowl, and authored several books and many magazine articles. 

We walked an anti-clockwise path along the plain between the road and inclosures then turning north-west between North Bentley and South Bentley Inclosures as far as the Dockens Water before returning through South Bentley Inclosure and Anses Wood. 

First to catch our attention was an early Woodlark singing directly above us which we watched for several minutes. Although the light was poor so the bird was mostly in silhouette we were able to easily see its diagnostic short tail.

Later, during our biscuit break, we spotted a raptor which initially we thought might be the Buzzard we’d seen floating around earlier but as it approached we could see the sleek outline of a Peregrine Falcon (below) which soared overhead.

As we walked through South Bentley Inclosure we heard the loud croaking of Ravens but frustratingly were unable to see them through the tall trees.


21 January 2016 Anderwood

Fortunately Sandra & Marge had planned this walk to stay mostly on the gravel tracks of Dames Slough Enclosure in order to avoid the deep mud and standing water that they’d found on the grassy rides and other footpaths when doing a recce. When we set off it was a cloudy 7°C but the sun soon broke through and provided a little more warmth.

There was a little bird song from several species - Robin, Goldcrest, Great Tit - reminding us that it’s not that long until spring arrives. The mosses on the woodland floor and on the trackside banks were thriving after the wet weather of recent weeks. Angela found an oak twig with one leaf completely unfurled and others beginning to emerge, perhaps as a result of just having experienced the mildest December since records began.

Bird noted included: Buzzard, Robin, Blackbird, Goldcrest (below), Blue Tit, Great Tit , Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie and Bullfinch.


07 January 2016 Blashford Lakes

A dry morning with a chilling wind, our party numbered 15 so we split into three groups to ease pressure in the hides.

Between the groups we recorded 56 bird species including two of the less common grebes, Slavonian and Black-necked, plus Egyptian Goose and Ring-billed Gull, all on Ibsley Water; and later Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and most notably Brambling from the woodland hide. In addition some were lucky enough to see a Bank Vole (below)
Bank Vole