20 April 2017 Bolderwood area

Bog Beacon
Eighteen of us, led by Richard, met up at the Bolderwood car park and set off walking through mixed woodland towards the Highland Water. Unlike recent sunny days it was cloudy and rather un-Spring-like, which perhaps limited bird activity this morning. An anticipated Firecrest failed to materialise and a Wood Warbler, recently arrived from wintering in Africa, sang from a grove of Silver Birches beyond a band of conifers, but was only heard, not seen. Likewise both Chiffchaff and Blackcap went down as ‘only heard’. 

Wood Dog Violet
Further on, where the forest had been cleared a Tree Pipit was song-flighting and Pam heard a Woodlark, which we caught up with later although it was rather distant. The skies seemed empty for apart from a couple of Buzzard sightings, two or three Swallows and the usual Woodpigeons were the only fly-overs.

Yellow Pimpernel
Along the muddy margins of a wet ditch Bog Beacon (Mitrula paludosa), a small orange globular fungus, grew and nearby in another ditch some of the party saw a couple of newts. Duncan also noted Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), Willow Bracket (Phellinus igniarius) and Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum). The banks and path verges produced Common Dog (whitish spur) and Wood Dog (purple spur) Violets, Wood Sorrel, Bluebells, Common Milkwort, Tormentil, Heath Speedwell and Field Wood-rush. The latter also being know as Good Friday Grass. A Crab Apple's fresh blossom was also admired. By a foot-bridge over the Highland Water, where we relaxed and enjoyed the biscuit round, Yellow Pimpernel and Round-leaved Water Crowfoot were discovered.

06 April 2017 Turf Hill

On this lovely Spring morning, brisk at first but warming later, 11 headed across the open plain to the ford and pony-drift collecting pens at Millersford Plantation, our path lined by glorious golden Gorse. We took a woodland path into the Plantation, then out of the trees into an area of drastic clearance where acres of conifers had been felled to restore heathland, leaving a bleak, battlefield-landscape.  Thankfully, among the tree stumps and stark trunks that remained, Silver Birch and Hawthorn saplings and heather survived.

Along the path rising above the cleared valley, a tiny, purple patch of Lousewort sat at the base of a sandy bank where Solitary Bees frequented tiny holes. A few Comma, Peacock and Brimstone butterflies were stirring in the sunshine. Bird calls and drumming indicated that Blackbird, Chaffinch, Robin, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Song Thrush and Stonechat were nearby but sightings were few. However, two Common Buzzards floated above the remaining trees in Millersford Copse, pestered by a Carrion Crow, and later a Raven was seen and heard.

Dormouse box
In the Copse several black tubes (10” long, square profile, a wooden insert blocking off one end and providing a tiny platform at the other) were wired to low branches and later confirmed as nesting boxes for Dormice. Nearby a clean, lower jawbone, probably from a Fallow Deer, was found near the path.

After taking the view over Hale Purlieu, we retraced our route downhill, crossed the stream and turned NE. Several evergreen Holm Oak trees stood out among their deciduous neighbours. We soon headed over the now-treeless hillside and continued along track and open grassy plain back to the cars.
Deer lower jaw bone

An adjacent small pond harboured a foreigner: floating leaves with bright yellow-tipped spikes, later identified via the RHS website as Golden Club/Floating Arum (Orontium aquaticum) from eastern USA. There was no spathe but the spadix had clusters of yellow flowers near the tip. MW/SP

10 April 2017 Spring!

Green-winged Orchid
Already the early flowers of Coltsfoot have turned to ‘clocks’ along the road to the recycling centre off the Milford Road and now if one looks along the southern verge of Woodside Lane in Lymington the purple flowering spikes of Green-winged Orchids have appeared.

Butterfly-wise Brimstones, Orange-tips, Holly Blues and Speckled Woods have emerged and are on the wing along with Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and the occasional Painted Lady which may have hibernated.

Many of the summer visiting birds are arriving with Chiffchaffs singing, Swallows and martins hawking insects over ponds and lakes, especially somewhere like Blashford Lakes, and in the Forest Redstarts have been recorded.

Orane-tip - male
With the fine weather forecast for the coming days there’s plenty out there to go and look for and enjoy!

Photos: © Richard Coomber

23 March 2017 Hawkhill and Frame Wood

Frame Wood
14 of us set out from Stockley car park for Hawkhill Wood and Frame Wood with Simon and Carol leading. The earlier rain had ceased, much to everyone’s relief.

The walk was quite varied in habitat - early on there was open grassland with a few tree stumps, where Stonechat and a song-flighting Meadow Pipit were seen. Nearby we stopped to look at an information board which recorded the wartime RAF activities, setting the historical context of the past when the area was part of RAF Beaulieu. In the same area two Siskins flew over calling.

Common Polypody
Common Polypody
Further on we reached Frame Wood where the old and gnarled trees were ideal habitat for the Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper we encountered. Moss growing on the tree trunks and branches supported Polypody ferns in places. These trees formed an interesting and atmospheric backdrop to our route for some had been pollarded years ago and now grew in interesting shapes. Beneath them we found Wood Spurge already in flower. A Firecrest was found by some of the party in a Holly thicket. 
Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

Duncan noted Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) which is present in virtually every  birch wood
restricted to this host, as well as two other fungi: Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor) and Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum).

Although dry it was not without a breeze, so our bird count was not high. We had a view of several Sika as we were returning which rounded off our walk nicely.