On a dry morning a small party set off on a really excellent walk from the car park at Pig Bush with Pam leading. Initially we passed through woodland that was filled with bird song that included a Goldcrest, Stock Dove and a distant Cuckoo. As we skirted the outside of the wood a singing Redstart was eventually seen by some of the party, but nowhere near as well as those seen later. Open areas gave us the chance to scan for raptors, but it was a shame that the closest was just a Common Buzzard for only distant views were had a Red Kite that flew by!
From the willows and Alders that lined the stream at Halfpenny Green both Garden and Willow Warblers sang and nearby Geoff pointed out the first of the morning’s several Stonechats. Flowering plants in the area included Common Milkwort, Lousewort and Tormentil - all species characteristic of the forest’s heaths. On reaching Rowbarrow we encountered a pair of Redstarts feeding and fly-catching along the track as we walked through a delightful stretch of woodland amongst Silver Birches and craggy old Oaks.
Out in open country again we came across another pair of Stonechats whose anxiety at our presence suggested a nest nearby. By the path Heath Speedwell, Bird’s-foot and Common Yellow Trefoils were found, the flowers of the latter forming a tight cluster. It was in that area that the morning’s only butterfly was seen – an obliging Small Heath. A Tree Pipit was also logged. On the edge of the wood as we neared the railway Geoff found another male Redstart that gave us cracking views.
The walk back to the car park was across open heath passing a grassy wetland where Lapwings were on territory and a Little Egret fished along a stream. The heath was not without its share of birds with Dartford Warbler, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting being worthy additions to the list, but they were outshone by Tony’s spotting of a hunting Hobby, freshly arrived from a winter beneath the African sun and Geoff’s Wheatear that was presumably a late migrant that had stopped off on its way further north.
|Could this be New Forest Water-crowfoot?|
We had seen several water-crowfoot plants on mud and in pools, but one looked rather like New Forest Water-crowfoot (Ranunculus x novaeforestae), a hybrid between Round-leaved and Three-lobed Water-crowfoot although the latter might be extinct in the Forest! Petty Whin and probably Heath Spotted Orchids were the last notable flowers as we neared the car park. Back at the car park Tony’s bird total was an amazing 39 species!