18 May 2017 Pig Bush

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!

Meadow Thistle
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.
Small Heath

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!

Swifts have returned to Lymington!

For the last week or more there have been Swifts wheeling above the rooftops of Lymington. Some in the library area and others over Waitrose and the nearby sportsfield area. Andy Broadhurst, who spoke at an evening meeting last winter, has sent a link to the Hampshire Swift survey website and urges us to add to the knowledge of our Swifts by completing the survey form that appears on his site with details of all your sightings. Don't worry about duplication for the more information he receives the better!

The link is: https://www.hampshireswifts.co.uk/survey      

Common Swift

And don't forget Andy's Swift walk around the town on 10th July from
1900 – 2130

Park in main car park behind Marks and Spencer on St Thomas’s Street (SO41 9NA)(free from 1800) and / or meet at the ticket machines. Andy is leading the public walk on a tour of the Lymington Swift breeding sites and hopefully enjoy some low-flying screaming parties. The walk will end at the King’s Arms on St Thomas’s Street for refreshments and a close encounter with breeding Swifts. 

Note that good sightings of Swifts are dependent on fine weather so please call Andy in advance of travelling to check the walk is on (01590 622907)

04 May 2017 Ham Wall

Our coach left Lymington on time for the RSPB’s Ham Wall reserve on the Somerset Levels west of Glastonbury, whose iconic Tor could be seen from the reserve. On arrival some the party enjoyed elevenses, whilst others began walking the trail that had formerly been the railway line between Glastonbury and Bridgewater. The elevated path offers views across reedbeds and lagoons once formerly part of a thriving peat extracting industry. Now it is a haven for wildlife.
Greater Yellowcress along a drainage ditch

From the ponds by the picnic area Marsh or Green Frogs croaked, out in the reedbeds Reed Warblers sang and Bitterns boomed, whilst hidden in the sallows that grew in places along the track the songsters included Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s, Garden and Willow Warblers.

Tree Bumblebee
Great Yellow-cress lined the banks of ditches and waterways with their golden flowers attracting many insects from Early and Tree Bumblebees to butterflies that included Brimstones, Orange-tips and Green-veined Whites.

Overhead wheeled Swifts, Swallows and martins, but the Hobbies that circled amongst them were more interested in dragonflies. We saw Hairy Dragonflies as well as several species of newly emerged damselflies and at least two species of moths – Clouded Border and Nettle Tap.
Great Crested Grebe - fish supper
Great Crested Grebe - nest and eggs
Along the track were two viewing platforms and several side-tracks that led to hides, so there were plenty of opportunities to walk and/or sit and watch resulting in a good collective bird list. Of course not everyone saw everything, but we all had highlights of one kind or another. In addition to those species already mentioned the bird tally included Great Crested Grebes – one pair with eggs in the nest and another with downy chicks, Great White and Little Egret, a pair of Garganey, Greenshank, Whimbrel and great views of the locally breeding Marsh Harriers over the marshes.

This trip was arranged by Adrian and we were admirably driven by Solent Coaches – our grateful thanks to them both.