This week's walk: 21 March 2019 Linwood Bottom

Pan Poole is leading this week’s walk to Linford Bottom Walk, the latter part of which is quite muddy and there is a small stream to cross. Pam’s walked it a couple of times when it has been very wet and managed in boots, but some people may wish to use Wellingtons.

Directions to Linford Bottom(SU182072)
Travelling south east  towards Ringwood on the A31 take the slip road to Poulner. Turn right to Poulner and then right again at a small flat island following the brown sign to the London Tavern and Moules Court. After a short distance turn right again at the sign for London Tavern, St John the Baptist Church and Poulner Baptist Church. Go straight on and turn left just after St. John the Baptist Church to Poulner Baptist Church. Keep straight on past Poulner Baptist Church until reaching the car park, which lies back from the road on the LHS opposite a sign for Apple Tree Cottage.

There is plenty of parking.

Alternatively get on to the A31 eastbound either at Ringwood or Poulner and head back up the hill on A31 towards Picket Post, BUT take the Linwood turning immediately after the In-Excess Garden Centre, and follow the meandering road that leads toward Linwood Bottom, where the car park is visible ahead off to the right on a left-hand bend.

As always check on the OS map!

Walks reports: 07 March 2019 Piper's Wait

Most Lym Nats walks follow the proposed programme like clockwork, but today’s meeting at Piper’s Wait, had one or two unexpected twists. Unusually this report covers some of the extra curricular activities. With roadworks disrupting travel it turned out that two walks took place simultaneously!

Piper’s Wait (part 1)

Piper’s Wait just happened to be in one of the squares that Duncan had been allocated as part of the Hampshire Ornithological Society’s Woodlark survey, so he and Richard decided to fit in a required visit ahead of the Lym Nats walk and that meant leaving Lymington at 07:00! At Brockenhurst they had to detour to avoid the closure of the road for a collision, apparently involving two cars, that took place at the level crossing an hour earlier. Nearing the study area they saw an early male Wheatear at Janesmore and a few minutes later were on site to cover the area between Longcross Pond and the Piper’s Wait car park - the rendezvous for the walk.

It was gloriously sunny, but there was a biting northly wind that drove ominous black clouds from which snow appeared to be falling, although that was melting on reaching lower levels. Before long there was a complete reversal of the weather as stinging, horizontal and driving rain significantly reduced visibility out on the exposed heath forcing the intrepid duo to seek shelter in a Holly thicket. With no improvement in sight they phoned Adrian, the walk’s leader, recommending that the walk be cancelled, but that they would stay at Piper’s Wait in case anyone turned up.

After a while a clearance came through and the sun reappeared, but we had no idea that the road from Nomansland was closed for repairs until Duncan had a  ‘phone call from Chris. Unfortunately he was on the wrong side, so would not be joining us! By the appointed hour five stalwarts were on site and although the wind was still vicious they set-off. Over the next two hours or so strong gusts nearly blew the telescopes over on occasions, but they were saved by good slip-catching by party members.

Yellow Brain © Richard Coomber
Although we failed to see the hoped for Goshawks, there were several sightings of soaring Common Buzzard and Ravens as well as passing Stock Doves. Small birds were few and far between – distant Woodlarks, telescope views of Skylarks, a male Stonechat and Meadow Pipits. There were a few species of fungi to be seen: Dung Roundhead on horse poo, Yellow Brain on Gorse ‘trunks’ and guess where Duncan found Bracken Map?

Luckily further stormy showers passed to the north and south of us, and when we returned to the cars we all agreed that in spite of the conditions it had all been worthwhile and invigorating. There was a sting in the tail however, for by that time the rolling road repairs had closed the route to the south. Duncan went along and negotiated our exit in less than three minutes. Perhaps we should offer his services to Number 10! (RC)

Piper’s Wait (part 2)

In Bramshaw Wood © Tina Vaughan
Despite heavy rain on the journey to Piper’s Wait, a road closure, sheep and cattle in the road and absence our leader an intrepid group of ten had an enjoyable walk around a very wet Bramshaw Wood, largely in the sunshine, with Brian Vaughan navigating a circular route.

Exida plana © Glynis Payne
We were treated to a flash of blue from a Jay and a flurry of Chaffinches as we set out and a lone Goldcrest flitting around a Holly tree very close to us. On a scrubby heath in a cold and strong northerly wind we found Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare with Blue Tits in adjacent bushes before moving into the welcome shelter of the wood. Also recorded were Buzzard and Great Spotted Wood-pecker.

Oyster Rollrim © Glynis Payne
Here we found two donkeys and a variety of bracket fungi, including Turkeytail Trametes versicolor and a large clump of two species of jelly fungus on some dead wood: a black globular mass like a brain called Exida plana and a similar form but of clear jelly with dark centres resembling frog spawn called Crystal Brain Exida nucleata. Another interesting fungus found nearby was Oyster Rollrim Tapinella panuoides with its convoluted cap.

Marsh Tits were heard singing but never seen, but Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits and a Nuthatch were heard and seen as we came close to returning to our car park in Nomansland. (RP)

This week's talk: Tuesday 12 Mar 2019 The Snakes in the Heather Project - Helping Britain’s Rarest Reptile by Ben Limburn

Tuesday 12 Mar 2019 The Snakes in the Heather Project - Helping Britain’s Rarest
Reptile by Ben Limburn.

Ben is from the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust and will tell us about this important initiative to help the Smooth Snake.

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

Walk report: 03 March 2019 Normandy Bird Walk

To misquote a previous Prime Minister, just over a week is a long time in the walks programme of Lymington Naturalists! Following a spell of mild weather during which we enjoyed the Keyhaven walk, Storm Freya arrived for this walk. However, despite the wind and the rain, the enthusiasm of Chris, Brian and John, with Duncan leading, was not dampened!
We joined the sea wall from Maiden Lane just after High Water (Lymington) and walked to the Yacht Haven before heading back along Normandy Lane.

Curlew © Chris Robinson
On Normandy Lagoon the group enjoyed close views of a variety of ducks and waders including several Grey Plover, two Avocets, six Red-breasted Mergansers, two female Goldeneye, good numbers of Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits and Turnstones, a drake Scaup and three Greenshanks. Indeed, one landed on the footpath in front of us!

Sweet Violets © Chris Robinson
After leaving the sea wall along the recently refurbished footpath, the field to the left contained more than 60 Curlews. Other birds of note seen during our walk were Rock and Meadow Pipits.

Walking back along Normandy Lagoon, we saw a Roe deer. Of botanical interest, we enjoyed seeing sizable patches of Lesser Celandine and Red Dead-nettle as well as a smaller area of Sweet Violet Viola odorata, our earliest flowering member of the Viola family. 

We arrived back at Maiden Lane just after midday having seen 42 species of birds although, arguably more importantly, with a collective feeling of ‘that was good, I’m glad we didn’t let the weather beat us’. (DW)

Walk report: 21 February 2019 Keyhaven

High water (Hurst Point) 11.20 – Spring tide. 
On a lovely morning Duncan welcomed the group of 16 members with a special welcome to two walks newbies, Barbara and John.
Given the state of tide and the presence of a cool south westerly wind, the leader decided that the group would set off along the Ancient Highway to the Lower Pennington Lane car park (to look over the flooded fields) then to Pennington outfall before returning to Keyhaven. Before leaving the car park we were able to enjoy good views of a female Marsh Harrier.

Goat Willow
© Richard Coomber
We had a cursory look at the Balancing Pond where there were Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall and Coot. On this stretch, a Peregrine in flight crossed the track. In addition, Angela identified two lichens – Oak Moss (Evernia prunastri) and Xanthoria parietina (orange/yellow/green) – sorry no English name. Goat Willow flowers were breaking open, but the nearby Blackthorn bushes were still in very tight bud. Also, in the ‘Efford’ field we saw four Roe Deer including one buck and three Skylarks displaying.
© Chris Robinson
Overlooking the flooded fields we were rewarded with hundreds of Lapwing and Golden Plover which looked stunning with the sun emphasising their colour. A single Ruff was also located.

After a degree of clamouring from the troops, we had our mandatory biscuit stop before setting off for the sea wall and it must be reported that, again, there was a choice of dark and milk chocolate digestives! Chris forewent the biscuits, instead continuing towards the outfall. He returned several minutes later with his reward – an excellent photograph of basking adders.
© Chris Robinson

We had a really close view of a hovering male Kestrel before reaching the seawall where there was a good number of Dunlin and Turnstone. A Spotted Redshank was seen as were two Great Crested Grebes.
Kestrel hovering
© Richard Coomber

On the walk along the seawall there were Reed Buntings, a Rock Pipit and lots of Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Particular worthy of mention are the ‘white’ Ruff on Butts Lagoon, a Chiffchaff, a quartering Marsh Harrier, the pair of Peregrines on the usual stone block, a Spoonbill on Keyhaven Lagoon, the good numbers of Pintail and Shelduck together with another significant flock of Golden Plover.

We arrived back at the carpark at 13.03 and, although, one member made some crack about packed lunches and overnight accommodation being needed for this bird walk, we were privileged to have seen 55 species.

In summary, a most enjoyable walk with good company! (DW)

Spoonbill at Keyhaven Lagoon with Pintail and (in background) Shelduck
© Richard Smith