Walk report: 15 November 2018 Sturt Pond area

Little Egret at Sturt Pond
© Mary Mawdsley
Thirteen enthusiastic Lymnats set off from Sea Road car park on a misty morning. We followed Danestream to Sturt Pond. Here there was a wealth of wading and seabirds - notably juveniles Brent Geese, which was delightful as there had been a decline Brent Geese breeding success in previous years. Other birds in the pond included Common Teal, Little Grebe, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits and a Mediterranean Gull. The fields on the other side of the path were as productive - birds noted here included a Merlin being mobbed by a Carrion Crow, Reed Bunting, Linnets, Stonechat and Meadow Pipits.
Rock Pipit on Bladder Wrack
© Chris Robinson

Bladder Wrack was on the edge of the pond, alongside cotton grass, Greater Periwinkle, Honeysuckle, Sea Mayweed and some escaped brassica species. We journeyed along to Cut Bridge, and here we found Turnstones, Mute Swans, Dunlin and Oystercatchers.
Reed Bunting
© Chris Robinson

On the return journey we walked along the top of the spit and then into the MCV bird hide over looking Sturt Pond. When Collared Dove and Magpie were added as we returned to the car park our total of birds reached 40 species! M&MM

Talk report: 13 November 2018 Paul Manning 1000 years of Falconry in South Hants and the New Forest

The society had a truly memorable talk from Paul Manning, Lord Montagu’s falconer, on the ancient art of falconry, the history , nature of the birds and present day falconry.

Paul greeted us with a Gyr Falcon on his fist, which was hooded. On the hood are the feathers of the bird of prey’s usual quarry. In the case of the Gyr Falcon they hunt on large birds, cranes, heron and storks.

Falconry was first recorded in Anatolia, on the Syrian/ Turkish border some 4500 years ago. At this point falconry was used to supplement the diet. By 600BC falconry was widespread across China, Japan, India and most of the Middle East. In 5th-6th century the Europeans , especially the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons were falconers. The first 8 yards of the Bayeaux tapestry was devoted to falconry and hunting of Wild Boar, hare and deer, all of which were domains of the wealthy. The Crusades were a time when the Europeans advanced their knowledge of falconry as the Arabs were extremely skilled in their art. By the time of the third crusades Richard the Lionheart took falcons to the Holy Land, and bonds were made with Saladin as Saladin helped to feed the European falcons when food was short. Many kings were famous falconers, most notably Henry II and Henry VIII. Charles II kept his birds in the New Park in the New Forest. Falcons were a sign of enormous wealth, and people would take them to chapel, to market and on visits to neighbours. In the 18th century falconry started to decrease .

Paul mentioned many terms in modern usage that have falconry origin.eg Fed up – when a bird of prey eats until it can eat no more and sits in a tree for a couple of days to digest. Mantle –surrounding their food with wings, gives rise to mantlepiece around the fireplace. Also “making a pass”, “codger”, “Rouse yourself “and” Hoodwink”.

In falconry birds are classified by body shape, broad wings, short wings or long wings. A Buzzard is a broad wing, and generally they circle looking for carrion. There is little power in the beak, all the power is in the feet. The short wing birds of prey, such as Goshawk, are the true hawks. Birds of prey are not technically a falcon unless they are in the long wing group, the Peregrine is the ultimate example, and they hunt by the stoop method, and can gain speeds of 238 mph. They are adapted by an extended eye brow, and a black line under the eyes to prevent glare, also having baffles in their nostrils to prevent suffocation during speed.

The last bird of prey Paul showed us was a European Eagle Owl, the largest species of owl in the world. These birds hunt by stealth, their feathers adapted to be silent in flight , they can turn their head through 270 degrees, but both ways and can carry off prey to the size of small Roe Deer.

The audience had many questions at the end of the talk from Paul, which showed the level of interest in his fascinating skill. During this time we learned that, although more people are now flying birds of prey, sadly few are true falconers – the ancient and awesome art where one must accept the birds are always wild.

Walk Report: 01 November 2018 Exbury Fungi foray

A group of 17 met for, what might become, a most enjoyable annual field trip.

Common Puffball  
© Richard Smith
We were welcomed by Linda and Juliet. who in Richard’s absence, were presented with telescopic mirrors by Duncan. These are useful for looking at the underside of fungi (gills/pores, colour and stalk) without the need to pick other than for subsequent identification.  It has to be said, though, that Juliet found an alternative use for the extended mirror – a leader’s stick in the best tradition of cruise ship onshore guides!!

Linda said that it had been a disappointing for fungi at Exbury and, recognising that we had limited time for searching, she had collected a couple of boxes of specimens from the gardens so that the group were aware of those to look for.

Grey Knight 
 © Chris Robinson
For those who think that LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) are challenging in the world of birds, then they are even more difficult in the fungal kingdom! Indeed, with the advances in technology, many species cannot be identified in the field but need either a compound microscope or a DNA analysis!

Fluted Bird's Nest
 © Chris Robinson
However, notwithstanding some of the identification difficulties especially with some of the Webcaps (Cortinarius, the largest macro-fungus genus in Britain), we were able to name many of those we found. The principal ones were Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda), Clouded Funnel (Clitocybe nebularis), Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius), Fluted Bird’s Nest (Cyathus striatus), False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca), Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina), Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), False Deathcap (Amanita cirtrina), Butter Cap (Rhodocollybia butyracea), Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum), Grey Knight (Tricholoma terreum), Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum), Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasiculare), Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor), Snowy Waxcap (Hygrocybe virginea) and Ganoderma resinaceum. This last one, which has no English name, was the large reddish brown bracket fungus seen on the large oak near the pond.
Ganoderma resinaceum
 © Richard Smith

We had the usual biscuit stop involving milk chocolate digestives – those bemoaning the lack of the dark chocolate variety were ignored!! (Note: stand-in leader needs further staff training! – Editor.)

Before leaving, we were privileged to see the Exbury Collection of Nerine sarniensis, a very attractive, long lasting plant, native to South Africa. Theo, the expert on this species, gave us a brief talk about the plants and the development of the Collection during the past 80 years.  DW