17 August 2017 Shipton Bellinger

Meadow Brown
Wayfaring Tree berries

Five members undertook the not insignificant journey to these downs in conditions which the weather people promised would improve as the day went on - and they were right! We are now getting good at finding our way through Tidworth and the easier back route to the key part of the down for the scarce Brown Hairstreak. Later in their season they like gorging on the going over berries of the Wayfaring Tree, of which there are very many in this area and we have seen them doing exactly this in earlier years - never very many though. Last year there were two but on thistle flowers and judging by the look of the wayfaring berries then they had made a better choice. Sadly none were seen today which is the risk one takes when seeking out rare butterflies. However, other butterflies abounded and we recorded twelve species in all including lots of Meadow Brown and Common Blue, second generation Brown Argus and a Dingy Skipper which only occasionally does a second generation. Speckled Wood which had a very poor year in 2016 were plentiful in the little glades. The down is rich in wildflowers and among many others we noted Red Bartsia, Vipers Bugloss, Weld, Centaury and Harebell. Birdlife was not noticeable and maybe it did not like the army helicopters which flew over regularly low and noisily. 

All photos © Richard Smith

Common Blue - male
Speckled Wood

Robin's Pincushion Gall
Diplolepis rosae

A BIG "Thank you!"

Brian, our treasurer, has just received on behalf of the society a cheque from Waitrose for £260.00 as our share of the tokens collected by their generous "Community Matters" scheme for June

So "Thank you" to:

Brian for arranging our participation in June

Waitrose for their cheque and for running the scheme

and finally to all our members and other Waitrose customers who put their green tokens in our bin!

03 August 2017 Ridgeway Lane - Woodside

Small Copper © Richard Smith

On a blustery morning, Brian led a group of 14 from the car park in Ridgeway Lane on a walk that followed a rough "Figure of Eight". Turning left into Poles Lane the party proceeded via Maiden Lane and Normandy Lane to the first "stop" at Normandy to walk the perimeter of the field where the Reserve Open Day is held. The "Club" biscuit break was held in the lee of the sea wall looking east over Normandy Lagoon before continuing via Maiden Dock/Eight Acre Pond, Maiden Lane and Woodside Lane to enter the SE corner of Woodside Park and proceeding in an anticlockwise direction. The walk effectively finished at the pond in the south of the park. This was created comparatively recently as part of a scheme to improve the drainage of the playing fields and is maturing nicely with a fine display of Common Reedmace (Bulrush). A small area has also been seeded with a mixture of native and non-native annual flowers (including Corn Marigold, Echium, Coreopsis, Cosmos, centaurea (Cornflower), Lavatera, Linum et al.) to provide a nectar/pollen source for bees and other insects.

Selected sightings/observations:

Bittersweet © Richard Coomber
NORMANDY: Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Heath, various "Whites", Swallow, Little Egret, Canada Geese, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, ripening fruits on Bramble (Blackberry), Blackthorn (Sloe) and Hawthorn, White Clover, Creeping Thistle, Common Ragwort, Royal Fern, Michaelmas Daisy, Silverweed, Common Bird's-foot Trefoil, Honeysuckle, Bittersweet (Woody Nightshade) and Hedge Bindweed.

Common Fleabane © Richard Coomber
WOODSIDE: Common Blue (M+F), Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Six-spot Burnet, Common Buzzard being mobbed by gulls, Goldfinch, Magpie, Marble Galls on an oak tree caused by a gall wasp (Andricus kollari), Great Willowherb, Pendulous Sedge, Common Centaury, Common Fleabane and Common Knapweed.

Woodside Park is a fantastic asset for Lymington, being sufficiently large to comfortably accommodate formal gardens, arboreta, playing fields, children's playground, skateboard park and nature.

20 July 2017 Shatterford

Lesser Bladderwort

© Richard Coomber

Geoff and Sue plus 12 set off from Shatterford car park on a rather grey and unpromising morning after the exceptionally heavy rain of the previous 2 days. Apart from wheeling House Martins, there at first  seemed little to be seen across the heathland but a few Silver-studded Blue butterflies soon appeared and the botanists spotted all 3 types of heather, an excellent specimen of Lesser Bladderwort, Round-leaved Sundew and White-beaked Sedge. 

Fallow bucks in velvet
© Richard Coomber
The shelter of the woodland was more rewarding and we lingered near a glade where weak sunshine shining through the canopy onto some lower vegetation revealed a haven for mixed birds feeding  providing excellent views of Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Great Tit and Blackcap. Unfortunately, the sun was not strong enough to bring out the large variety of butterflies that Sue and Geoff had seen on their recce, but Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper and Brimstone were identified. 

Marsh Frog moments before it 'plopped'
© Richard Coomber
After our refreshment stop, we watched a solitary Roe Deer browsing in the woodland, apparently unconcerned by our presence. Shortly afterwards, in an adjoining open field, we saw about a dozen Fallow bucks with antlers still “in velvet” and again we lingered to make the most of the sight. 

Digger Wasp and
Beautiful Yellow Underwing caterpillar
© Richard Coomber
Crossing some boggy ground just out of the woodland, a large green frog was spotted in one of the pools. This was thought to be a non-native Marsh Frog but unfortunately was camera shy and soon plopped beneath the water. Further botany highlights were identified namely Jelly Fungus, Harebells and Coral Necklace. The back-markers found a parasitic Digger Wasp excavating a burrow into which it dragged a Beautiful Yellow Underwing caterpillar 

Further chocolate biscuits were issued to fortify us for the uphill stretch past Bishop's Dyke back to the car park which we did not reach till about 1.30, the walk having yielded a larger tally than anticipated at the start. Congratulations to all who completed the course.

Other highlights were:Birds: Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Chaffinch, Siskin, Redstart. Plants: Branched Bur-reed, Marsh Pennywort, Lesser Spearwort, Bog Bean, Alder Buckthorn, Cotton-grass sp and Bog St. John's Wort.Insects: Broad-bodied Chaser, Keeled Skimmer, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies and a Fox Moth caterpillar.