With the latest lockdown exceeding 50 days we can look forward to Spring and the awakening of the countryside and our gardens. The Brent Geese on the coast will be leaving anytime soon for Arctic Russia and those overwintering Blackcaps will return to their breeding grounds in central Europe only to be replaced with our breeding Blackcaps returning from a winter in the sun.
Already frog spawn has been
seen in ponds and ditches. Spring
flowers are starting to appear with the yellows of Lesser Celandines,
Primroses, Marsh Marigolds and Coltsfoot to the fore.
There will come that day when one sees the first Brimstone butterfly, the first Wheatear, the first Swallow or first hears the Cuckoo or perhaps see an Adder basking in the warmth of the morning sun.
However dark the days of this last winter have been, Spring’s return lifts the spirits and is out there to experience and enjoy.
The New Forest National Park is a Special Protection Area for birds and
Ground nesting birds such as the lapwing, nightjar and curlew are at risk of completely disappearing from the UK as their numbers dwindle due to loss of habitat and disturbance. The New Forest is one of the last places in the UK where these birds can still be found and helping them to breed successfully is now critical to their survival in the UK.lapwing CR
Ground nesting birds can be very difficult to spot when walking across the Forest and most of us would simply be unaware that they are here. In fact, the nests are so well camouflaged that to the untrained eye it is very hard to see them before you are so close that damage has already been done.
Other car parks which have been closed for normal winter maintenance will re-open on 26 March. Details of all closures can be found on the Forestry England website here: Car Park Closures
We are delighted to announce that our new Speaker Programme has been completed and is now available for viewing via the link below or on our Indoor Meetings page. This new series of illustrated talks promises to be both fascinating and flexible. It will run from September 2021 to March 2022 and can be delivered via Zoom or Room, depending on prevailing circumstances.
In the meantime, don’t miss the terrific last 3 Zoom talks in our current season – The next talk is on Heathland which will be followed by one on New Forest Rivers and finally a talk about the Knepp Rewilding Project in West Sussex. More details can be found on the indoor meeting page.
Lymington Naturalists are very pleased to be able to invite non-members to our next Zoom talk by Clive Chatters, free of charge. This opportunity is the result of our participation in the current online ‘Forest Awakening’ festival being run by the New Forest National Park Authority. More details of the festival and details of how non-members can sign up for this talk can be found by following this link:
The talk should be of great local interest. Clive Chatters is a local naturalist and conservationist and is Company Secretary of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. He has published books on the flora of the New Forest and on salt marshes and has recently completed a new book on heathlands. He will be exploring the diversity of heathland and its constituent habitats, with particular reference to the New Forest.
On 27/01/21 we spotted a colour-ringed Avocet off the sea-wall at Maiden Dock. The tide was very low which meant that this bird and its companions were quite close to the shore, so it was possible to get an ID shot of its rings. These turned out to be YWx/GB (GB as in Green/blue not Great Britain!)
I asked on Hampshire Birding Group Facebook page and Nick Goldsmith kindly sent me a link to a French site where he had found the bird’s records.
It seems to have been first ringed (and recorded) on 08/06/17 in The Breugny, near Mesquer in Brittany. It then moved down the road to Batz-sur-Mer, thence over to Normandy Marsh on 12/02/17. It seems to have stayed with us until 27/06/18, then moved to Titchfield Haven (26/06/18), back to France (Sene 21/04/19), then back to us again this year (27/01/21).
I posted the sighting on the Brittany Avocet recording site. There are gaps, of course, but 4 years of records shows how important ringing can be in tracing the movement of some birds.
Our next members’ Zoom talk will be given by Stephen Akester. Stephen is a fisheries management specialist who has travelled widely to develop projects that encourage sustainable aquatic ecosystems.
As the Forest begins to awaken for Spring, Lymington Naturalists’ Society are delighted to announce that, together with other community groups, we will be partnering with the NFNPA (New Forest National Park Authority) for their upcoming ‘New Forest Awakening’ festival which will be taking place online throughout February
Starting Monday 1st February, there will be a varied programme of virtual tours, podcasts, soundscapes, talks and films to enable people to discover why the New Forest is so special and its role in the climate and nature emergencies as well as explaining what people are already doing to protect the Forest and how everyone can help.
More information about this festival and a programme of online events can be seen by following this link:
You will notice fewer of our popular ‘ghost’ walk reports on the blog in the coming weeks as we all endeavour to comply with current lockdown regulations by staying local and staying safe. Members are continuing to post their lockdown photos and sightings on our Members only Facebook page.
Our local coastline, beginning from Milford-on-Sea, encompassing Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes and extending up the Lymington River, is designated as part of the New Forest National Park. It faces significant challenges now and in the future from flooding and from erosion
The Environment Agency is investigating the challenges and is exploring ways in which a sustainable future for this fragile landscape might be ensured and funded. To find out more about the challenges and possibilities or to sign up for updates on this project or to have your say on it, go to their information webpage:
Our next members’ Zoom talk will be given by Chris Chapleo, the chair of the Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group (CHOG). Chris will be showing us some of the rich variety of bird life that is to be found in the harbour and the lower Avon Valley.
The walk started well down a wide grassy fire break through mixed woods and then Richard Smith and I were then confronted with an extensive waterlogged and well trodden section While circumnavigating the section, a song thrush was glimpsed and a little later a redwing.
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