Walk report: 15 February 2018 Clay Hill

This brisk, bright morning tempted 15 to attend despite dire warnings of thick mud and lying water on the least-bad route from this venue.  So, booted and propped up by hiking poles, we slithered our way northeast along a wide sloshy ride into Park Ground Inclosure.
Prizes of chocolate were offered for first sightings of a bird (not a Robin or Blackbird) and frog spawn. Immediately a Common Buzzard drifted over and a few yards further on large blobs of frog spawn were not only spotted in the overflowing ditches but were juggled from a puddle to greater safety. A frost had already spoiled some of the top layers of eggs but there were plenty left.

It was a relief to turn along the dry track of Beechen Lane to the southern edge of Lyndhurst. The Buzzard kept re-appearing and calling, harassed by Carrion Crows. Birds were not abundant but Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Tong-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Robin, Nuthatch, Woodpigeon, and Rook were seen during the morning. We did a loop into Pondhead Inclosure, an area of current restoration and conservation, where volunteers carry out extensive clearance, coppicing and replanting to reinvigorate the previously overgrown woodland.

Old skills like making charcoal takes place on site in a mobile burner, fences are fashioned from woven stems and a scary dragon’s head has been carved from a large log. We found Birch Polypore and Turkeytail and several mosses and lichens. Ground cover included Hard Fern, Polypody, Male Fern, Buckler Fern, Bracken, Wood Spurge and Butcher’s Broom with berries and flowers. Abundant male catkins but no female flowers were found on Hazel and Alder.

Retracing our route to the end of Beechen Lane we continued ahead skirting the backs of properties. Before reaching the Brockenhurst road we turned left alongside new plantations of oak saplings. The air was warming now in the sunshine and a Red Admiral and male Brimstone butterfly had ventured out. Our path eventually met the outbound ride for our final chance to flounder through the mud. We thank Duncan for providing his sightings list. MW/SP

A carved Dragon!