06 April 2017 Turf Hill

On this lovely Spring morning, brisk at first but warming later, 11 headed across the open plain to the ford and pony-drift collecting pens at Millersford Plantation, our path lined by glorious golden Gorse. We took a woodland path into the Plantation, then out of the trees into an area of drastic clearance where acres of conifers had been felled to restore heathland, leaving a bleak, battlefield-landscape.  Thankfully, among the tree stumps and stark trunks that remained, Silver Birch and Hawthorn saplings and heather survived.

Along the path rising above the cleared valley, a tiny, purple patch of Lousewort sat at the base of a sandy bank where Solitary Bees frequented tiny holes. A few Comma, Peacock and Brimstone butterflies were stirring in the sunshine. Bird calls and drumming indicated that Blackbird, Chaffinch, Robin, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Song Thrush and Stonechat were nearby but sightings were few. However, two Common Buzzards floated above the remaining trees in Millersford Copse, pestered by a Carrion Crow, and later a Raven was seen and heard.

Dormouse box
In the Copse several black tubes (10” long, square profile, a wooden insert blocking off one end and providing a tiny platform at the other) were wired to low branches and later confirmed as nesting boxes for Dormice. Nearby a clean, lower jawbone, probably from a Fallow Deer, was found near the path.

After taking the view over Hale Purlieu, we retraced our route downhill, crossed the stream and turned NE. Several evergreen Holm Oak trees stood out among their deciduous neighbours. We soon headed over the now-treeless hillside and continued along track and open grassy plain back to the cars.
Deer lower jaw bone

An adjacent small pond harboured a foreigner: floating leaves with bright yellow-tipped spikes, later identified via the RHS website as Golden Club/Floating Arum (Orontium aquaticum) from eastern USA. There was no spathe but the spadix had clusters of yellow flowers near the tip. MW/SP