26 January 2017 Keyhaven

High water (Hurst Spit) : 09.10

State of tide: mid-way between springs and neaps.

Weather: Overcast, dry and bright with very cold wind blowing straight in from the frozen continent.
Duncan led a hardy and keen group of 9 people (including one member from Romsey) from Keyhaven in what most, if not all, of us considered were sub-Arctic temperatures! Indeed, one member (our illustrious secretary) 
wore a jacket of the type worn by the military in the Arctic!

Marsh Harrier
We walked inland via the Balancing Pond, along the Ancient Highway to the bottom of Lower Pennington Lane before heading to the sea wall and back to Keyhaven.

Our perseverance and enthusiasm was rewarded with a total of 47 species. Particular highlights were two male Pochard on the new pond north of the eastern end of the Ancient Highway, which is a good record for our coastal area, a female Marsh Harrier at rest and also in flight over Pennington Marshes, close views of a Raven flying and then landing on the sea wall near the Jetty and a group of six Spoonbills alighting on Fishtail Lagoon. Pintail and Snipe were present in good numbers, the latter often watched feeding out in the open.

Additionally, three Roe Deer were spotted near the Balancing Pond and further on, lying down and sheltering from the wind on a bank on Pennington Marshes, were two more! The only plant in flower was not surprising – Gorse!

22 January 2017 Lymington Naturalists help the New Forest Non Native Plant Project

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has been working with landowners and volunteers to reduce the impact of invasive non-native plants from the banks of the Lymington River, Mill Lawn Brook, Passford Water, Cadnam River and Avon Water, as part of the  Heritage Lottery funded New Forest ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Himalayan Balsam

Skunk Cabbage
The project is working hard to control plants like Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Skunk Cabbage and Giant Hogweed from wetland habitats in the New Forest.

Giant Hogweed
Over the summer the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s New Forest Non Native Plant Project has seen 248 different volunteers help clear Himalayan Balsam from 89 sites, clocking up over 2250 hours of work.  

Amongst the balsam volunteers this summer were a couple of members of Lymington & District Naturalists  - a special thank you to Jill Newman and Brian Matthews.  Jill and Brian came out on pulls we carried out at the Lymington Reed Beds Nature Reserve, where we managed to clear five hectares of balsam from the site of special scientific interest.

The balsam pulling programme is already being put together for 2017.  It is a wonderful opportunity to visit some beautiful stretches of wet woodland/river and do something to improve the habitat. If you fancy helping or would like more information then please contact Joanne Gore on joanne.gore@hiwwt.org.uk or 07770 918293/ 023 8042 4205

12 January 2017 Blashford Lakes

Adrian led a party of six hardy souls to Blashford Lakes on what turned out to be a very wet morning. Thank goodness for the hides where we spent most of the time. From the Tern Hide we could concentrate on the wildfowl as there were few gulls. Brian spotted one of the best birds – a Water Pipit feeding along the water’s-edge near the hide before it flew away across the lake. There were several Goldeneye, including a very smart drake, as well as Tufted Duck and Pochard present in some numbers, but we only saw two Goosanders. Dabbling ducks were mostly sheltering on the far side of the lake and included Wigeon and Shoveler. We saw an Egyptian Goose and later two Greylags flew over as we were leaving to walk to the Woodland Hide. 

Birch Polypore

As we walked through the wooded areas we saw a Goldcrest and nearer the Woodland Hide Siskins were feeding noisily high in the Alders above the path. Down at ground level several fungi grew including Birch Polypore, Scarlet Elf Cup and Turkeytail. Dangling Hazel catkins were an early indication that Spring might be around the corner, although judging by today’s weather forecast that’s still some way off!

Male Brambling

From the Woodland Hide we were delighted with excellent views of a wintering male Brambling at one of the feeders as well as good views of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker. Another highlight were three Reed Buntings – two males and a female.

The rain had turned heavier by the time we reached Ivy North Hide, where we had superb views of one of the two Great White Egrets that are frequenting Blashford this winter. It sported elegant back plumes used in display in the breeding season. A Water Rail was seen briefly before we walked back to the Tern Hide where there was little new. Around 12:30 we called it a day, but a very good day for 57 bird species in such lousy weather was our reward!

01 January 2017 Maiden Lane and Normandy

Duncan in his capacity as '12th man' (to quote Brian) or self-styled 'super sub' led the New Year's Day walk starting at Maiden Lane at 10.00. There were six starters including two non-members.

Although there were low grey clouds, it remained dry for the duration of the walk. It was spring tides with high water at 12.40.

We were able to count 48 species, the most noteworthy being a Peregrine, five Avocets, a Greenshank, three Goldeneyes (including one drake) and four Spotted Redshanks. Another highlight was being able to enjoy really close up views of a Kingfisher. There were very good numbers of Pintail, Wigeon, Shelduck and Curlew.

Spotted Redshanks
A most enjoyable and rewarding start to the year.