New Forest Non-native invasive Plant Project

Last night (27 March) was our AGM, but that was done and dusted in about 10 minutes for it was more or less the warm-up act before an excellent talk by Joanne Gore on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's New Forest Non-native invasive Plant Project. Joanne wondered if anyone might like to volunteer to help pull up Himalayan Balsam along the Lymington River catchment area.

Just in case anyone didn't pick up the details, or who missed the meeting and might be interested, the poster giving details is reproduced below.


Walk report: 15 March 2018 Setthorns

On a pleasant morning after heavy overnight rain, 13 members led by Pam started a walk through Setthorns Inclosure. The name Setthorns is derived from  the practice of sowing acorns with thorn seed, to help prevent young plants being grazed. There was plenty of bird song, and  Angela pointed out the call of a Bullfinch, which we then saw perched above us.

After leaving the main track we picked our way down a very wet and muddy path, and took the opportunity to refresh our identification of lichens, one short branch had Parmelia caperata, Usnea, and Evernia prunastri (Oak Moss) growing on it. At the bottom of the path we had a good view of two Siskins and a Dunnock, which were on the ground around the puddles. Here the shoots of Bluebells were also showing.

We then turned onto one of the main tracks  leading up to the turning for Hill Tops and Pine Top caravan site. Along the way we saw 2 Buzzards soaring overhead, then a Jay, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Song Thrush and more Siskin, hearing the cooing of a Stock Dove in the background. As we walked through the extensive caravan park we came across a small herd of Shetland ponies resting between the vans, along with several fat Grey Squirrels scurrying around. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming and was also seen.

Yellow Brain
Two Victorian bridges
On reaching the disused railway track known as Castleman’s Corkscrew, which originally ran from Southampton to Dorchester via the New Forest, we turned right to follow the track. Several Hart’s-tongue Ferns were growing at the base of the steep tree lined embankments, also Hard Ferns were present. We then passed under 2 fine Victorian brick built bridges before coming into the open to look at a bright yellow orange fungus, Yellow Brain Tremella mesenterica, growing on gorse. Interestingly further on Wall-rue, a small lime loving fern was growing on the lime mortar between the old brick work.
Bracken Map

Finally we turned back into the inclosure taking a close look at wood stacks to find the lichen Cladonia and noting the many variations in the bracket fungus Turkeytail Trametes virsicolor growing beside Bitter Oysterling Panellus stipticus.

Bitter Oysterling
Other Birds:- Magpie, Jackdaw, Robin, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch and Carrion Crow.
Butterflies:- Brimstone.
Other fungi:- Bracken Map Rhopographus filicinus and Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum (PP)

Photos © Richard Coomber


Hopefully we have seen the end of the 'Beasts from the East' and as the days warm and lengthen the pace of Spring will increase.

During the cold spells several members had interesting birds in their gardens including Blackcap, Reed Buntings, Fieldfares and Redwings, but perhaps the best we have heard of so far was a Hawfinch in one lucky member's garden!

Juvenile Brents and an adult
Wheatear at Lower Pennington Lane 
Over the last few months groups of birdwatchers have been doing co-ordinated counts of the Brent Geese along the Solent and one of the things noted was the almost complete lack of juvenile geese in the flocks. Juveniles have pale bars on their wings. It transpires that on their breeding grounds in Arctic Russia 2017 was a bad year for Lemmings, a species that Rough-legged Buzzards, skuas, Arctic Foxes and other high-Arctic predators depend. With few Lemmings they turned to the next best thing - Brent Geese goslings. In theory this coming summer should see an increase in Lemmings, so therefore we should see more juvenile Brents next winter - time will tell!  

In spite of the cold weather early summer migrants have started to appear with a scattering of
Brimstone butterfly
Wheatears from a number of places in the area and Sand Martins being reported from Pennington Marshes and Blashford Lakes.

We had a Brimstone butterfly on Pam Poole's Lym Nats walk in Setthorns last week and in three weeks or so it will be worth looking out for the Green-winged Orchids along Woodside Lane, Lymington.
Green-winged Orchid

If you have any interesting sightings you would like to share, then please let us know and we'll try to add it to the blog as and when practical.

All photos © Richard Coomber

Talk report: Tuesday 13 March 2018 Maurice Pugh gave us his illustrated talk "Looking at Nature"

The Society recently enjoyed an impressive presentation by one of its’ own members, Maurice Pugh. Maurice combines great photographic expertise with good in depth knowledge of natural history. Although most of his images are gathered in the New Forest he began with a sequence of the autumn Red Deer rut in Bushy Park London. Travelling up early in the morning he finds it is possible to get reasonably close to the stags, many of which adorn themselves with some bracken on their antlers, without worrying them.

Back locally there were some entertaining sequences of water birds: two Black-tailed Godwits fighting, using their legs as weapons rather than their long beaks, presumably because damage to the beak might well affect the ability to feed. A female Little Grebe had caught a fish which she offered to her two young, who declined because it was far too big for them to cope with. Suddenly all three dived and the reason soon became clear - a large gull had flown over with an eye on the fish or even the young. The danger passed and the three grebes came up once more but the fish was not seen again. There were magnificent pictures of Kingfishers, some on perches some in flight. Maurice explained that in camera clubs nowadays what he described as pictures of “a bird on a stick” are not so popular - the bird needs to be doing something.

Butterflies and moths are an area of particular interest and we were shown some rare butterflies including the Marsh Fritillary, Brown Hairstreak also Purple Emperor, where one of Maurice’s ambitions is to get a photograph showing the purple sheen on both forewings: the creature needs to be in right position and in the right light for this. The chalk downlands are home to a wealth of other butterflies including Green Hairstreak, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers and several of the blues.

Not all moths fly by night, one day flyer found on the chalk downland is the Mother Shipton, so named because the pattern on the wings is said to resemble the caricature of an old woman. The female Emperor Moth, a heathland species is much larger than the day flying males which she can attract in large numbers by pheromone emission. The Clifden Nonpareil is a vast beautiful night flying moth with a pale blue band on its underwing; a rare migrant it has been occurring more frequently locally in the recent past. The Merveille du Jour moth displays brilliant camouflage. The Goat Moth is a strange creature which occurs in the New Forest; the caterpillars do smell of goats; the eggs are laid on certain varieties of deciduous tree (often a specific tree will be chosen repeatedly by the moths and becomes known as a goat moth tree) and the caterpillars spend up to four years inside the tree eating it. The fully grown caterpillars frequently leave the host tree in the autumn to find a more suitable site for pupating in the ground. Goat Moth trees can be identified from the holes in the trunk. The final moth pictured was an attractive Canary-shouldered Thorn which had its own pet in the form of a very small spider attached to one of its hind wings. This had caused some debate in his camera club: was it the excellence of the photograph of the moth or of the spider which was being judged!  

12 April - London Wetlands Centre

There are still THREE spaces left on our forthcoming coach trip to the London Wetlands Centre on 12 April, so if you still would like to book, or if you know a friend who would like to come along, then please get in touch with Adrian Butterworth. Details below:




The London Wetland Centre is a beautiful wildlife reserve and international award winning visitor attraction just 25 miles from central London.  One of nine centres run by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)  the London Wetland Centre is acclaimed as the best urban site in Europe to watch wildlife.  It supports a wealth of wetland biodiversity, including Bitterns, Kingfishers, a colony  of endangered Water Voles and migratory birds which arrive in large numbers from around the globe.  It is also a very user friendly reserve.  There are viewing hides, many benches and the paths are flat. In addition to the restaurant there is a gift shop and also a specialist binocular shop.

TIMETABLE                   Coach departs Town Hall Car Park, Avenue Road
                                  Lymington.   (approx)   Arrival WWT London Wetland Centre.                   Coach departs.

  6.15/           Coach arrives Town Hall Car Park,  Lymington.

We envisage a brief comfort stop at Fleet Services on both journeys. Estimated times obviously depend upon traffic, weather conditions on the day etc.

Refreshments.  WWT say:- “You are welcome to bring picnics and eat at any of the tables around the site apart from those inside and directly in front of our restaurant.  Alternatively the restaurant serves hot and cold drinks and light refreshments all day  and hot meals between Noon and 3pm.

So please make your own arrangements.  We have not made any form of booking at the restaurant.

Ticket Cost:-                       Please check which category you fall into.  *

                    1.   WWT              Member                                 £ 22.00. per person

                    2.    Non WWT     aged over   65                        £ 30.00. per person

                    3.    Non WWT     aged under 65                        £ 32.00. per person

If you are a WWT member you must bring your membership card with you on the day.

Tickets will be issued on a first come first served basis on receipt of the completed application form below and a cheque.  We need your full details in the unlikely event cancellation or other emergency.

Ticket price includes    Cost of coach travel & entry to the WWT London Wetland Centre.

It excludes any form of meal or refreshment, or tip for the coach driver - for which we will make a collection on the return journey.

Please note:  Pricing is very tight and if you have to cancel we will not be able to make a refund of the ticket cost, unless someone can take your place.

For any further information please ring  Adrian Butterworth on 01590 622587

please detach————————————————————————————————————————




*I would like to apply for (        ) ticket/s at    £                 . each and enclose a cheque for £                .

drawn in favour of Lymington & District Naturalists’  Society.




Please return to A. Butterworth. Half Acre, Marden, Rhinefield Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire. SO42 7SQ