This week's walk: 18 April 2019 Milkham SU216101

Sandra and Marge are leading this week’s General Interest walk at Milkham SU216101 setting off at 10:00

Walk report: 04 April 2109 Anderwood

Larch flowers

The first walk of the spring and summer season turned out to be the coldest wettest day for weeks. The weather did not deter 16 hardy members who met at Anderwood for a woodland walk. Spring is definitely in the air and many trees are budding much earlier than usual. We found Oak catkins which seem to be much earlier than usual, male and female Larch flowers, the females ready to become this year’s cones, and Birches already coming into leaf, everything looking very fresh in the rain.

The recent wind had brought down a lot of branches with lichens on them, including Parmelia caperata, Evernia prunastri, and Usnea subfloridiana, a long trailing lichen rather reminiscent of Spanish Moss. The unpolluted air of the New Forest makes it a very valuable habitat for many species of lichen, a fascinating organism which is a combination of a fungus and algae. The fungus part provides the structure while the algae contains chlorophyll and photosyntheses producing food for the lichen. The rain suited the mosses as well. Among the species identified were Leucobrium glaucum, Polytrichum commune, Thuiudium tamariscinium, Sphagnum sp and Dicranum majus.
 We took our biscuit break (chocolate Hobnobs) in the shelter of the Eagle Oak, one of the ancient trees of the New Forest. It may be around 400 years old, possibly older, and has a circumference of 5.4metres. It is noteworthy as being the place where the last White-tailed Eagle was shot by a Forest keeper in around 1810. (This week I read that White-tailed Eagles are to be reintroduced on the Isle of Wight, so we may see them again in the Forest before too long.)

The Eagle Oak and neighbouring Yew trees
Common Dog-violets were flowering on the ride edges, and Male and Hard Ferns were seen by the ditches. A large flock of Chaffinches flew up from the ground, probably feeding on the last of the Beech nuts. Among the birds heard were Song Thrush, Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker. AM

Photographs © Richard Coomber

Walk report: 21 March 2019 Linford Bottom

Goldcrest near the car park © Richard Smith

On a mild cloudy spring morning 
18 of us set out from Linford Bottom. The Forestry Commission had recently been working in this area, clearing scrub to create more lawn and thinning woodland and rides to open up the canopy. This has been done to allow more light in which should improve plant diversity and encourage butterflies. This work however did not detract from the walk itself for there was plenty of birdsong for us to identify as we listened to the drumming of Great Spotted Woodpeckers whilst we walked through the Great Linford Inclosure.

The woodland here is mixed with fine stands of Scots Pine, Douglas Fir and Norway Spruce and throughout there was constant calling and movement of Siskin in the trees. In a clearing stood a single specimen tree of Lawson Cypress, this was unexpected because Lawson Cypress is rarely planted for its timber as the main trunk may fork, thus reducing the value of the timber grown. Continuing on we came across a Southern Wood Ant’s nest which had been damaged, a large number of worker ants had piled out to do repairs, then further on a Chiffchaff was heard and seen flitting about catching insects, this was a first for many of us this year.

Wild Daffodil - just one of many © Richard Smith
After leaving the Inclosure we turned back through an area of old gnarled Oak, excellent territory for hole nesting birds, a Wren’s nest was seen. Wood Sorrel and Bluebell leaves were emerging, a good indication of really old woodland. Eventually the path opened out to a small area of heathland which went down to Linford Brook. It was here, near the water we found the large patch of Wild Daffodils we had come to see. This area also has a few small streams feeding into the brook. In this water long strings of toad spawn were found and, from the bridge over the brook Minnows and Whirligig Beetles were seen.

Finally we followed the track through the gorse leading up to Little Linford Inclosure, where we proceeded along the woodland edge and crossed Linford Brook again to return to the car park. PP

Birds seen included:- Dunnock, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jay, Wren, Chiffchaff, Buzzard, Siskin and Mallard.
Flowering Plants :-Lesser Celandine, Wild Daffodils and Goat Willow
Ferns : Common Polypody Fern, Male and Hard Ferns.
Fungi :- Yellow Brain Fungus Tremella mesenterica on gorse.
Mammals:- Bank Vole

This week's talk: 26 March 2019 John Combes "Exploring the Dorset Stour"

Before enjoying John Combes' talk "Exploring the Dorset Stour" we have our annual short AGM.

John Combes is a regular visitor to us from Ringwood and will show us some of the natural history of one of our local rivers – the Stour

At The Lymington Centre (McLellan Hall) commencing at 7.15pm. Visitors are always welcome for a small charge (adults £5, juniors £1).