9 March Talk: New Forest Rivers

The speaker at our next meeting will be Naomi Ewald, the National Co-ordinator of the Freshwater Trust. Naomi will be giving an illustrated talk showing the hidden gems of our local rivers. All our indoor meetings are currently being held online via Zoom. Talks start at 7.15 pm and are about an hour long, followed by the opportunity to ask questions.

Spring is coming

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.

Lesser Celandine

  


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.








Wood Anemone









These will be followed by the blues of Violets, Bluebells and Ground Ivy and the whites of Cow Parsley, Wood Anemone and Wood-Sorrel.  


Green-veined Orchid






Then there will be the early orchids – Early Purple and Green-veined before the floodgates of variety open and with it the urge to wander further afield. 


Brimstone




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.




Northern Wheatear




However dark the days of this last winter have been, Spring’s return lifts the spirits and is out there to experience and enjoy.

RC

Common Adder















All photos © Richard Comber


Ground Nesting Birds - Car Park Closures

The New Forest National Park is a Special Protection Area for birds and every year a small number of car parks are closed from 1 March – July 31, establishing quiet zones for the protection of ground-nesting birds.  The locations are chosen based on survey work from the previous breeding season, together with ongoing analysis of the prime locations for different species of bird.  

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                                                            

                                                                                                  curlew                                  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. Limiting activity helps reduce the likelihood of birds abandoning nests or else exposing them to predators – often other larger birds, such as crows. These often wait patiently nearby in the hope that a bird rising into the air when disturbed by a passing human or dog will reveal the site of a nest containing eggs or chicks which can then provide an easy meal.

The first national lockdown occurred at the start of the last breeding season. Birds took advantage of normally busy areas such as car parks to nest or feed and reduced footfall meant that birds were generally able to breed more successfully across the Forest. This success has meant that some new car parks have been added to the closure list this year.

The car parks closed from Monday 1 March will be - Crockford, Crockford Clump, Yewtree Heath, Clayhill, Hinchelsea, Shatterford, Hinchelsea Moor and Ocknell Pond.

The most sensitive breeding areas are signed and everyone out on the Forest can help our birds by avoiding these and other breeding sites and respecting all signed instructions.  Most importantly not to walk, cycle or ride across open heathland or mires, to stay on main tracks and to keep dogs on leads and not permit them to run across open land, even when it looks empty!

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

More information regarding support for ground nesting birds can be found on the NPA website here: New Forest NPA

Stop Press - New Talks Programme 2021-22

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.

Speaker Programme Sep 2021 - Mar 2022

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.

23 February Talk: Heathland - More than just heather

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 Forest Awakening Programme

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.

The French Connection

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.

CR


9 Feb Talk: Fisheries Conservation - What can we do?

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.

The 'New Forest Awakening' Festival - all through February

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:

New Forest Awakening 

Walk Reports

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.

Hurst Spit to Lymington Project

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:

Hurst Spit to Lymington Project

26 January Talk - Christchurch Harbour and the Lower Avon Valley

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.

Walk report : Lucy Hill 6th January 2021



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.

Turning right, we shortly passed through the gate of the plantation into a mainly open area running along the south side of the plantation, scattered with groups of trees, bushes and the odd flowering gorse.
We then went through a small copse of mainly oak and some holly where we heard the faint sound of a wood pecker (great?) tapping to find food. It was then seen at a distance flying to a perch   Leaving. we passed one of the holly trees showing large teeth marks, surprisingly above head height (ponies?) . 
On the south facing bank of the ditch running along the edge of the plantation were several ant hills, one particularly magnificent.
More evidence of ants, this time a very large concentration of small mounds, the work of meadow ants, surmounted with various grasses.  Not that we looked at the time, but the South East face of the mound is meant to be flatter in order to catch the morning sun.
Meadow Ant hills

In a small holly, another glimpse, an uncooperative goldcrest.
Another change of vegetation, this time an extensive area of clumps of small thorny scrub.
Eventually, we turned up the side of the plantation through a mix of beech one side and very tall pine on the other in order to join a forest track back into the plantation.
Along the track a jay was seen and later a tree creeper, but not for long.  Turning off the track up a series of firebreaks through a variety of groups of trees, I managed to take a wrong turning and ended up having to get round the muddy section again.  Not exactly the planned sylvan walk.
However, there was a reward at the end, one possibly two very cooperative nuthatches in the carpark.

Nuthatch


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