Walk: 05 July 2018 Pondhead Inclosure

Lesser Skullcap
In the midst of the driest spell of the year so far, 17 members met up for Adrian’s annual butterfly walk, which this year was at Pondhead near Lyndhurst. We were treated to an interesting walk beginning with a good variety of damp ground plants including Bog Pimpernel, Marsh and Water Speedwells, Marsh Ragwort and Lesser Skullcap showing through the masses of Lesser Spearwort that grew between our track and Park Grounds Inclosure to the right. Yellow Pimpernel and the straggling Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil were there as well. As the sun broke through the first Meadow Browns appeared and as we explored the flora the grass moth we disturbed was identified as Crambus pascuella, a common member of the genus.

On reaching Pondhead Inclosure we joined Adrian, who held sway beside a large bramble patch in a clearing where Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Ringlets, Large and Small Skippers flitted this way and that on the warm air. Soon we added magnificent Silver-washed Fritillaries and the more familiar Brimstone, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites and Speckled Wood to the list. However it was a superb White Admiral that stole the show gracefully flying and gliding between the bramble flowers, over the bracken and sometime upwards to cruise amongst the lower branches of the oaks that towered above.
White Admiral

Small White
After a while we left Adrian to his bramble patch and continued on for the rest of our circular walk. There were many more Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers along the grassy edged track and where there were more bramble patches more fritillaries and White Admirals appeared; the latter totally 6-7 by the time we returned to the car park. In shadier areas there were fewer butterflies, so flowers returned to the fore with the likes of Common Enchanter’s Nightshade, Hedge Woundwort, Tutsan, both Common and Water Figworts and Remote and Wood Sedges. Thanks to Duncan we noted Male and Broad Buckler Ferns. Birds were virtually non-existent apart from a few half-hearted snatches of song from a male Blackcap and the only dragonfly was a Golden-ringed that whizzed by.

There was one serious identification error when I kept calling Tina, Jo – I’d better stick to identifying feathered birds in future! RC

Photographs Lesser Skullcap and Tutsan © Richard Coomber; Small White, White Admiral and Ringlet © Richard Smith

Walk: 21 June 2018 Pond Dipping at Avon Water

Twelve Lym Nats joined Julian Sheppard, the Reserve warden, for a pond dipping session. It was a perfect warm sunny midsummer day.
Beautiful Demoiselle

Purple Loosestrife

Marbled White
Julian kitted us out with nets and trays and we were soon learning how to distinguish mayfly larvae from dragonfly and damselfly larvae, flatworms from small black leeches, and diving beetles, Whirligig Beetles and Lesser Water Boatmen. Pond snails crept about in the weed and many very small creatures emerged after a few minutes of sitting in the tray. Most of these were were too small for us to identify but it was very satisfying to discover the myriad of life that exists unconsidered in a pond. Someone found a childhood favourite, stickleback, and we were pleased to see caddisfly larvae encased in twigs and very small stones with just their heads sticking out.

The fine weather brought out the butterflies: Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Marbled White, and dragonflies: Southern Hawker and Broad-bodied Chaser, and damselflies: Beautiful Demoiselle and the Common Blue Damselfly.
The Reed Warbler was very conspicuous by its song, also Raven, and two Common Buzzards circled on the thermals overhead. Among the wildflowers noted were Wild Carrot, Hop Trefoil and Purple Loosestrife. AM

Photographs © Richard Coomber

Walk: 07 June 2018 King's Hat report

Heath Spotted Orchid
© Mary Mawdsley
20 members set off from King’s Hat car park on a cool summer morning. We crossed the road into King’s Hat inclosure, where a number of birds were identified by their song, principally Blackcap. Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Robin. Coming out of the enclosure onto the heathland at Dibden Bottom, we noted the Heath Moth and Small Heath butterfly, the very alert spotted a resting immature damselfly.  Also Cross-leaved Heath and Bell Heather, Creeping Cinquefoil, Heath Bedstraw, and the clumps of a beautiful Heath Spotted Orchid were on view. Further along Willow Warbler was heard. Round- and Oblong-leaved Sundew were still in bud, but a late Lady’s Smock was still in bloom.

On recrossing the road towards Beaulieu River we saw a Stock Dove, Song Thrush and Skylark. Chaffinch and Wren were heard. By the river were flowering Lesser Spearwort, and Common Cow-wheat. A Curlew and Green Woodpecker were calling. The large yellow bracket fungus on an oak was Chicken-of-the-Woods.

© Mary Mawdsley
On walking up towards Buck Hill we saw Greenfinches, Linnet, Siskin, and Dartford Warbler and a Grey Heron flew over. Also noted were Common Birdsfoot Trefoil, Heath Speedwell, Marsh Pennywort, Mouse-eared Hawkweed, Bog Asphodel, Lousewort and Eyebright. Brian went off track to see the monument to Samuel Carter, who died riding with hounds in January 1883. When he rejoined the tail of our party they were treated to the sight of a Hobby sweeping over the heath.
Samuel Carter's Memorial
© Richard Coomber
By Starpole Pond were Swallow, Blue Tit and Carrion Crow.

We then crossed the Beaulieu River again and returned to the car park, having completed a 4 mile walk.