Next week's Talk and Walk

A busy week coming up with:

Tuesday 13 November: Paul Manning gives us his talk 

"1000 Years of Falconry in South Hants & The New Forest." 

This presentation by Lord Montagu’s Falconer covers the history of falconry, the nature of the birds and the ancient art of falconry up to the present day. Paul Manning will be accompanied by three birds of prey.

At The Lymington Centre (McLellan Hall) commencing at 7.15pm. 

Visitors are always welcome for a small charge (adults £5, juniors £1).

Thursday 15 November: Mike and Mary Mawdsley lead a General Interest walk from Sea Road Car Park, Milford-on-Sea (SZ292917) (nr Milford Community Centre) setting off at 10:00


Talk report: 09 October 2018 Wildlife of Namibia by Andrew Watts

Andrew Watts’ talk on 09 October was a slide show of a camping safari he undertook in August 1998 around one of the least populated countries on the planet, but one that holds a wealth of wildlife.

Mr Watts began by showing us around Etosha National Park, a vast national park in the north of the country that, with an area of just under 23,000 square kilometres, is larger than Wales! At its heart lies Etosha Pan, a seasonal salt pan that during his visit was a dry, flat sheet of white salt of about 5,000 square kilometres, unlike immediately after the rains earlier in the year. The whole area hosts a wealth of wildlife. Some species such as Ostrich and Oryx (known locally as Gemsbok) were to be found where water seeps into the pan itself, whereas Giraffe, Wildebeest, Springbok and Black-faced Impala, a local subspecies, were amongst those species attracted to the fresher water provided by waterholes away from the pan. Common Zebras were also photographed by Mr. Watts, who pointed out the fuzzy coats of the youngsters. Male Greater Kudu were truly spectacular with their long spiral horns, compared with the smaller and hornless females. The game animals at the waterhole attracted Lions and other predators, species harder to see at more verdant times of the year. Black Rhinoceroses were hard to see in the bush during the day, but at night when they come to the floodlit waterholes by the camps and lodges Mr Watts was able to taking satisfying photographs! Additionally we were shown some of the birds occurring in the area including the Sociable Weaver, whose colonial nests resemble the roof of a thatched cottage and can become so heavy that it can break the branches of the Camel Thorn trees that support it.

On leaving Etosha our evening safari visited the Petrified Forest, where the fossilised trunks of trees from millions of years ago were strewn across the landscape and where Welwitschia mirabilis grew with just two leaves showing although they look more for they are shredded by the wind. At Twyvelfontein we were shown engravings made by nomadic bushmen hundreds of years ago, before we reached the Atlantic coast at Cape Cross to see Cape Fur-seals and the lichen fields nearby inland. The coast of Namibia is washed by the cold Benguela Current that draws nutrient rich waters north from Antarctic.

Turning south we looked at birds, such as flamingos and plover, that occur on the beaches and lagoons before we crossed the arid Namib Desert to reach the spectacular dune system at Sossusvlei, where the highest sand dunes in the world are to be found. Climbing the dunes was strenuous, but perhaps not for the small Tok-tokkie Beetles that scurry over the red garnet sand.  

Walk Report: 04 November 2018 Normandy Bird Walk

Setting off in conditions markedly improved on his summer walk (i.e. just "wet"), Brian led a small party around Normandy on a route that followed Normandy Lane, the Pinckney Path, part of the Solent Way, Normandy Dock, Normandy Marsh/Lagoon, Maiden Dock and 8 Acre Pond, before returning to Maiden Lane.

Fields/Hedgrows: Flocks of Curlew, Starling and Goldfinch; Pheasant ( and ), Jay and Moorhen.
Normandy Dock: The recent work of the Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve Conservation Volunteers in laying a length of hedge, clearing scrub and creating a dead hedge along the footpath improves both access and the views across to Normandy Farm.
Lymington River/Oxey Lake: A Kingfisher fishing from the breakwater; Great Crested Grebe (5+); Canada Goose.
Solent Way: A memorial bench at Normandy included a plaque commemorating Roy Freeman, Brian's uncle who died in 2004.
Normandy Marsh: Blushing red drifts of the succulent, upward-pointing fingers of Common Glasswort (Salicornia europaea).
Normandy Lagoon: Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Pintail ( and ), Red-breasted Merganser (), Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe (5+), Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Redshank and Turnstone. BM

Walk Report: 18 October 2018 Godshill

Godshill, a village scattered along the slopes of the Millersford valley, sits just within the northern boundary of the New Forest, NE of Fordingbridge. Today, 11 of us explored two areas of mixed woodland, Godshill Inclosure & Wood, isolated above the village on the way to Woodgreen. The approach from the south is via a winding, narrow, steep lane and a ford that can be tricky in winter when the brook dashes towards the River Avon.

It was a sunny, almost-warm morning but in the dappled shade of Godshill Inclosure the temperature dropped. Beech, Silver Birch and Sweet Chestnut leaves were yellowing and beginning to fall but the best colour was in the underlying, sunlit bracken with fronds still green, bright yellow or a rich brown. To the thud of Sweet Chestnut spiky fruits falling and ping of acorns we took the cycle track to the Woodgreen road and crossed into Godshill Wood. 

Sweet Chestnuts © Richard Coomber
At the first cross-path we headed northwards. Despite the ground falling to our left we maintained height to the edge of the wood and a gate where a left turn along the lane took us to the rim of the Castle Hill escarpment. This must be the finest view in the area featuring Breamore House and Mill and the winding River Avon far below where dots of cattle grazed the water-meadows and we could just make out Mute Swans and Cormorant on the water.
The view from Castle Hill towards Breamore House
© Richard Coomber

The birds today were Robin, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Raven, Jay, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. Both Goldcrest and Firecrest were seen, although some of the other species were only glimpsed briefly. But it was a day for fungi.  Pale orange False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) looked odd covered in a grey-blue mould. Clusters of Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) in all stages of development and the yellow, contorted trumpets of Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) dangling from a fallen conifer were the most eye-catching.

Trooping Funnel © Robert Payne
Our list (thanks to Duncan) also included Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrina), Bay Bolete (Boletus badius), Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus), clusters of Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare), the pale fruitbodies of Grisette (A. vaginata) and False Deathcap (A. citrina), Trooping Funnel (Clitocybe geotropa), Variable Oysterling (Crepidotus variabilis/cesatii), Milkcap (Lactatius sp.), Brittlegill (Russula sp.) and tiny, twangy Bonnets (Mycena sp.).  Our finale was a Red Admiral seeking sunshine on a tree trunk, a Speckled Wood 'dancing' in a patch of sunlight amongst the trees and male Brimstone. MW/SP