Wilson's Phalarope

The big excitement this month has been the Wilson’s phalarope on Keyhaven Marsh, a very obliging bird showing well for all and sundry. This is a bird of the Western USA in Summer and Argentina in Winter. This puzzled me, so I started to search the literature to see how this bird could end up here!

Wilson’s Phalarope
© Chris Robinson

Unlike its relatives the Grey (Red) and Red-necked phalaropes it is not a bird of the ocean. It nests around lakes and lacks the highly developed salt-gland of the other two species. However, it is a bird prone to ‘reverse migration’ (genetically programmed dispersal) and has been found in Australia and southern Africa. One was found dead on Alexander Island in Antarctica, making it the most southerly wader in the world. There is also a move into eastern Canada where most of the European vagrants seem to originate from. It first turned up in the UK in 1954 and has been a regular, if scarce, visitor ever since. This one appears to be the seventh recorded in Hampshire.  The bird at Keyhaven is not a juvenile, it is an adult bird, suggesting that it got across the Atlantic a year or two ago and is now commuting North and South between West Africa and Scandinavia. This has been documented with other waders, so why not?  But why here, on a pocket-handkerchief of a marsh?  Well I think the answer lies in the other local migrants.

Grey Phalarope
© Chris Robinson

The Grey phalarope is known to have favourite stop-offs on its migration routes. This is the third year that I have seen them at Keyhaven so it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that these birds have been here before and could well return next year. The Wilson’s getting here is probably down to it being with the Greys.

Also, you may not have noticed that a Bar-tailed godwit has just broken the record for the longest non-stop migration ever recorded. It left south-west Alaska on the 16th September and arrived in New Zealand 11 days later! 7,500 miles, having flown at speeds up to 55mph. The bird in question is known as 4BBRW (the colour coding of its rings) and carried a 5mg satellite tag harnessed to its lower back. Amazing.


Walk Report : 4th October 2020 Maiden Lane

 Brian was accompanied by cameraman Richard Smith on what would have been the first Sunday bird walk of the winter programme (08.30 - 10.45). The early start was because of the state of the tide (LW 06.18, HW 12.46) although there was not a big tidal range. On a squally, showery morning there was still plenty of interest around 8 Acre Pond and Normandy Lagoon.

There was an opportunity to see the various feeding strategies of different species:
Ringed Plover, a little scuttler with a short stubby bill and energetic pecking action, running along as if powered by clockwork and then standing still. 
Dunlin, a dumpy little bird feeding busily with a rapid "sewing machine" action using a longish bill, slightly decurved.
Oystercatcher using its powerful bill to probe for large marine worms and molluscs and to prise shellfish from rocks and seaweed.
Black-tailed Godwit, a long-legged, long-billed wader standing with its body well forward, bill probing almost at its toes, often in water up to its belly.
Turnstone, a stocky, short-legged, stubby-billed wader doing exactly what it says on the tin.
Greenshank, another long-legged, long-billed wader, probing and then running head-down after small fish

Little Egret, spending much of its time standing still, wading in shallows looking for prey and then dashing about in a frenzied fashion.
Redshank (long, thin and straight) and Curlew (long, decurved) probing with their different length bills, the latter also wading in to deep water.

Other sightings included 2 Kingfishers (at rest and in flight), a soggy and sullen Grey Heron, an imperious Great Black-backed Gull commanding one of the islands in Normandy Lagoon, Little Grebe, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Stonechat, and Starling. The explosive call of Cetti's Warbler.

Grey Plover

In the departure lounge: Swallow, Wheatear.
Arrivals: Wigeon coming from their Arctic nesting grounds, staying until March.
Throughout the walk conditions deteriorated for us spectacle wearers!



Walk report 1st October 2020 Millyford Bridge

The car park lies part way along the road from Emery Down to Bolderwood and was the site of intensive timber operations during the First World War. A sawmill was operated by men from Canada and Portugal to provide timber for the war effort and a narrow gauge railway operated to transport it away. All that remains today are some concrete blocks and the fireplace of a long gone building, known now as The Portuguese Fireplace. 

   Mistle Thrush
We walked around the forest edge of this area with inquisitive ponies looking for an easy meal from passers by and found Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Chaffinch in the trees, a single Speckled Wood butterfly, a Mistle Thrush picking its way over the grass and heard the croaking of distant Ravens. 
Holidays Hill Inclosure

On entering the Holidays Hill Inclosure we quickly turned off the cycle track along a path to the right into dense woodland where we came across a variety of fungi including Grey Spotted Amanita, Split Fibrecap, Southern Bracket, False Deathcap, Common Puffball and a Robin at every turn! 

Grey Spotted Amanita
Split Fibrecap

We made our way through the wood, mostly with conifer on one side and deciduous on the other, skirting the edge of Wooson’s Hill Inclosure and made our way round the south side coming across a tiny clump of yolk yellow fungal fingers called Golden Spindle. More clumps of fungi on rotting stumps, Sulphur Tuft and Sheathed Woodtuft, and soon we found the first of the King’s Trees that we were looking for.

King’s Trees Mark

These trees are marked with a slashed arrow to indicate that they were now earmarked for use in ship building for the King’s fleet in the 17th century and must not be cut down or pollarded by anyone else. We also found what we think are Witches Marks, made during a similar time to ward off evil spirits. Continuing around the Inclosure to Wooson’s Hill we found several more imposing King’s Trees, all Beech, among the Bracken and Bilberry. 

Crossing the road, we took the path into Holmhill Inclosure where we found lovely specimens of Cauliflower Fungus and Golden Scalycap

Cauliflower Fungus
Golden Scalycap

Roe deer

and then a single Roe deer very close by among the trees, seemingly totally unconcerned about our presence. It even decided to settle down on the carpet of autumn leaves before we went on our way. 

A couple of Chiffchaff flitted in the sunshine among the Silver Birch as we passed on our way back to the car park. The walk which should have taken about two and a half hours to complete took three and a half on this occasion! In true Lymnats spirit, why rush when there’s so much to see?


Winter is coming

Yes, winter is on its way and our Ghost Walkers will soon be out haunting the paths, byways, tracks and rides of the Forest area.  Sadly, we have had to cancel our planned Winter walks programme, which was due to start on 1 October, but in the coming months a number of our leaders will be out walking the routes in their own time and we will be publishing their ‘ghost’ reports and photos on this site as usual.  We hope these reports will give you an idea of what to look out for and what you might see on your own walks.

Turnstone © Chris Robinson

Tunnicliffe's Anglesey

 The Lym Nats talks programme got off to a great start with a very successful Zoom enabled talk from a wild and windy Anglesey.  Many of our members were surprised to discover they were already familiar with the work of wildlife artist CF Tunnicliffe through such media as childhood Ladybird books and editions of ‘Tarka the Otter’ as well as through collecting Brooke Bond tea cards and we were fascinated to hear more details of his life and career.  We were also treated to a wonderful photographic tour around the landscapes of Anglesey as well as getting an erudite and well-illustrated introduction to the wildlife and the flora of the island.  Our thanks go to our speaker, Paul Rogers.

22 September Lym Nats Talk

Reminder - The first talk of the Lym Nats winter programme is at 7.15 pm on 22 September, via Zoom.  

Paul Rogers will look at the wildlife of Anglesey through the eyes of Charles Tunnicliffe, the internationally renowned painter.

Invitations have been sent out to members via email or by post

Coral Necklace

28 August 2020 Lym Nats winter walks and talks

Our winter proposed programmes of walks and talks for the forthcoming period from September 2020-March 2021 can be found by clicking on the relevant TABS on the Latest News page.

These events with take place within prevailing COVID-19 guidelines. 

Jersey Tiger © Richard Coomber

25 August 2020 A trial members trial Zoom meeting


There is an opportunity to take part in a trial Zoom meeting on Tuesday 1 September at 7.15pm.

Members should have received an invitation link for this in their email.

There will be a brief introduction about Zoom, followed by a short presentation.

April 2020 and lockdown

It’s a different world out there nowadays and because of the dreaded Covid-19 virus we live by new rules with new phrases such as ‘self-isolation’, ‘social-distancing’ and ‘Book a Slot’ dictating our way of life. So no fortnightly Lym Nats walks around our area and in the New Forest to enjoy the unravelling of spring with its fresh green leaves and emerging flowers, blossoms, butterflies and the arrivals of summer visitors such as Swifts, swallows and warblers. Only a lucky few might hear or see a Cuckoo this spring. 

With the sunshine we enjoyed during April winter’s bare trees turned to green, the early white blossom of Bird Cherry, gave way to Blackthorn, which in turn passed the baton to Hawthorn as April turned to May. Already fledged Blackbird chicks are begging for food from their parents on lawns and roadside verges and hopefully it won’t be long before Swifts return to scream over Lymington.

Blackbird - male feeding recently fledged youngster © Chris Robinson
Nature and wildlife continues as normal, perhaps appreciating a quieter world and less traffic on our roads, so that perhaps birdsong is more noticeable than before and uncut roadside verges are more floriferous than usual. To highlight the changing seasons Lym Nats set up a Facebook group on the internet for our members to stay in touch with one another and to share their sightings - be it from within their gardens or exercise walks. In many ways nature and natural history gives us something to look for and to look forward to as the spring turns to summer.  

Contributors to the Facebook group have shown us newts in ponds, foxes in gardens, a great variety of insects, spring flowers and birds. If you are a Lym Nats member and haven’t yet joined (apologies to anyone who slipped through the net when it was set up) why not consider joining and contributing? The more the merrier! RC

And here are some of the magical April moments from our Facebook pages:

Singing male Whitethroat © Becky Wells
Mistle Thrush with food © Chris Robinson
A Dunnock springs into action © Glynis Payne
Male Great Spotted Woodpecker on feeder © Richard Coomber
Wood Anemones and Lesser Celandines © Richard Smith
Narrow-leaved Lungwort © Richard Smith
Three-cornered Garlic - an invasive species © Richard Coomber

Lady's Smock or Cuckooflower © Maureen Fidkin
Green-winged Orchid along Woodside Lane, Lymington © Maureen Fidkin
Mallard ducklings © Mary Mawdsley
Orange-tip - male © Richard Coomber
Garlic-mustard or Jack-by-the-hedge- a food plant of Orange-tip caterpillars © Richard Coomber
Bluebells © Carol Giles
Fourteen-spot Ladybird © Chris Robinson
Adder © Mary Mawdsley

Large Red Damselfly - mating pair © Richard Smith

Honeysuckle Sawfly © Chris Robinson
Early Purple Orchid © Chris Robinson
Stag Beetle - male © Chris Robinson
Green Alkanet © Maureen Fidkin
Streamer (moth) © Richard Coomber

Water Crowfoot © Richard Smith
Hawthorn or May © Richard Coomber