Walk report: 07 October 2018 Keyhaven Sunday Bird Walk

Speckled Wood
A worn male Common Blue

After yesterday’s rain, a fine morning greeted the first of this season’s bird walks that take place on the first Sunday in the month. With Richard leading we met by the sluice at Keyhaven and walked along the Ancient Highway to the Balancing Pond, where wintering wildfowl such as Pintail, Teal and Wigeon were beginning to gather. As we continued towards the end of Lower Pennington Lane several butterflies were also enjoying the warm sunshine along the sheltered lane with Speckled Wood, Common Blue and Small Copper giving us good views. Later a number of Red Admirals and a Small White or two were noted as well. Late flowering Honeysuckle attracted the blue as nearby wasps and bees were drawn to feed on clusters of Ivy flowers.

A Marsh Harrier flew east and amongst the Canada Geese grazing around Efford Lake were three Barnacle Geese, perhaps descendants of birds that probably escaped from a collection somewhere. Out over the marsh a Kestrel hovered as a small party of Swallows hawked insects before drifting away westwards.

Turnstones fed hungrily in the seaweed washed up by the high tide on the beach by the jetty. Way beyond them hundreds of yachts and dinghies dotted the blue waters of the Solent. We turned westwards to follow the seawall back to Keyhaven, giving us the chance to scan the salt marshes on the seaward side and the series of lagoons landward.

Water Rail
One of the highlights was a large female Peregrine perched on a block of concrete out on the saltings. The telescopes provided good views, not only of the Peregrine, but of a lone drake Eider on a shingle spit and for some a distant Brent Goose on the sea further out. There were few shorebirds around the lagoons themselves and we had good views of Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank and Ringed Plover. However they paled to insignificance as we watched a Water Rail feeding out in the open at the western end of Fishtail Lagoon – sustained views and a rare privilege to see this normally secretive bird so well. 

The last lagoon was Keyhaven Lagoon where a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits were roosting out in the water; three Shelduck rested on the shore, whilst on the other side of the sea wall a flock of Grey Plover roosted out on the saltings. With our change of position we could see the male Peregrine as well as the female and no doubt they were watching the plover as well! The final section back to Keyhaven was uneventful for most of us, but for a lucky two or three members of the party a fly-by Clouded Yellow was the final excitement and the walk’s sixth butterfly species – not bad for early October.

Photos: copyright Richard Coomber

Walk report: 04 October 2018 Lucy Hill

Sessile and English Oak leaves (RC)
Bracken Map (RC)

Nineteen members joined Angela at Lucy Hill. After a damp start the weather improved and we set out to work out the difference between Quercus robur and Quercus petraea, both of which grow on Lucy Hill. Quercus robur is the English Oak, with sessile (stalkless) leaves and acorns on long stalks, while Q. petraea has leaves with stalks and sessile acorns. Later our oak workshop included another oak, the Turkey Oak Q serris which has acorns in woolly cups and long leaves with wavy edges.

The long dry spell meant that there were not many fungi but a large
Green Elfcup (RC)
number of False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca had appeared overnight. These look similar to the real Chanterelle but grow under pine and are not considered edible. Other fungi seen were several species of Russula, Lactarius deterrimus, and Amanita citrina. Stems of bracken revealed Bracken Map Rhapographus filicinus which appears as black marks on the stems. We were delighted to find Green Elfcup Chlorosplenium aeruginescens with fruiting bodies.

Porcelain Fungus (CR)
On Mill Lawn, near the brook, we found Pillwort, a tiny fern with blades like grass but these are actually fronds which unroll in spring like ferns. This is a speciality of the Forest which is able to grow in damp, heavily grazed areas because of lack of competition from other plants. In the stream we found Branched Bur- reed, Water Mint, Common Water Plantain and the native Fringed Water Lily. Birds seen included Meadow Pipit, Grey Heron, Pied Wagtail and Sparrowhawk.
Pillwort (CR)

Photos: copyright Chris Robinson and Richard Coomber

This week's walk:18 October 2018 Godshill

Sandra and Marge are leading this week's general interest walk at Godshill SU176160 setting off at 10:00

Walk report: 20 September 2018 Bramshaw Inclosure & Wood

Black Nightshade

There were 9 of us to investigate the mysteries of this rolling, old woodland in the north of the Forest that seems to have defied precise path-mapping. Oak, beech and silver birch predominate with a few sweet chestnut and conifers and an under layer of holly, bracken, bramble and short wild bilberry. The only other plants of note today were Black Nightshade, Honeysuckle, Wavy Bittercress and tiny Yellow Pimpernel. The autumn lack of flowers and cool, dull day curtailed butterfly sightings to a few Speckled Wood. Birds were scarce too with only Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed and Great Tits seen, Chaffinch and Nuthatch heard.
It was overcast and gloomy as we entered the dense edge of Bramshaw
Inclosure from Nomansland Green and picked our way through to a more open narrow path behind the forest cottage. As we descended the side of a small valley, we spotted several ghostly green-white, False Deathcap (Amanita citrina) in the rough grass and bunches of Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) on fallen logs. Other Amanita species were in fewer numbers (A. excelsa, fulva, muscaria).

Orange Birch Bolete
Our route took us along a wide ride then across the valley floor to the dry bed of a narrow stream and into Bramshaw Wood. Here we branched right then right again to start the trudge uphill that led eventually to Pipers Wait, the highest point in the Forest at a dizzying 430ft. On the way we came across several clumps of Shaggy Scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa) poised spectacularly way above our heads on Beech trees in neatly callused holes left by fallen branches. The glistening, white caps of Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) covered a fallen log and sizeable Southern Bracket (Ganoderma australe) and Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) were evident. On the way up we crossed a deep gully, sometimes hard to ford in winter after rain when the forest animals have churned up the steep, muddy banks on their way through.

Fuzzy Polypore or Dyer's Mazegill
Other fungi found were Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea), Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens), Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius), Saffron Milkcap (Lactarius deliciosus), Orange Birch Bolete (Leccinum versipelle), Fuzzy Polypore or Dyer’s Mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii), several Russula spp. (R.aeruginea, claroflava, cyanoxantha, mairie) and Red Cracking Bolete (Xerocomellus chrysenteron).

At the top we bobbed out onto the edge of Black Bush Plain before retracing our steps a little way, passing a large, deep depression filled with Beech trees, before continuing downhill and branching left back to Nomansland. Thanks to Angela and Richard for the species list. MW/SP

Photos © Richard Coomber

This week's talk: 09 October 2018 Andrew Watts "Wildlife of Namibia"

This week Andrew Watts will present his talk "Wildlife of Namibia" at The Lymington Centre (McLellan Hall) commencing at 7.15pm.

We always enjoy Andrew Watts’ African Wildlife spectaculars.

Our indoor meetings are held at The Lymington Centre (McLellan Hall) on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month and commence at 7.15pm. Visitors are always welcome for a small charge (adults £5, juniors £1