© Richard Coomber
Adrian and Kay arranged this coach trip to Titchfield Haven NNR and as usual it was well supported. On arrival we checked-in through the reserve’s visitor centre and set off to explore the trails and to visit various hides that overlooked scrapes, lagoons and marshes.
By far the most conspicuous birds were the noisy Black-headed Gulls, but the scrapes also held a variety of other species including Avocets, Shelduck and some migrant shorebirds including Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin. From the surrounding willows and other trees sang Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, whilst in the reeds and adjacent scrub Reed
Greater Pond Sedge
© Richard Coomber
Bunting, Reed and Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroat were found. Also seen were Common and Sandwich Terns, Marsh Harrier, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe. A Merlin was heard, but only as a Spitfire flew over!
Although the weather was overcast a few butterflies, such as Brimstone and Orange-tip, ventured forth and along the ditches and water margins grew Comfrey, Yellow Iris and various grasses and sedges including Greater and Lesser Pond Sedges.
Our thanks to Adrian and Kay for arranging the trip and to the driver of Solent Coaches for negotiating roads that probably don’t see many coaches – Thank you! RC
A bright, cool, breezy morning heralded a warm spring day as 20 gathered for a 2.5 mile loop through Milkham Inclosure. This mixed woodland sits north of the A31, accessible from the road between Bolderwood and Linwood. It stretches westwards then south, continuous with Roe Inclosure, then Red Shoot and Pinnick Woods, ending at Linford. Today we limited ourselves to the northern area where there has been recent clearance of some conifer stands leaving open slopes or small areas of dense, deciduous replanting including wild cherry, in blossom today. Beech and Oak were fresh in spring foliage and soft shoots of Larch had to be touched. Wide grassy rides run west-east and north-south bordered by ditches with a winding cycle path and several crossings of Linford Brook and its shallow tributaries that drain toward Blashford Lakes. After a slow start all these areas provided their own wildlife interest.
© Richard Coomber
As an overture, a Peregrine zipped over the car park, too fast for some to see. Swallow, Robin, Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch and Raven were seen by most. More elusive, and identified by call, were Chaffinch, Siskin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Song Thrush and Chiffchaff.
In both shallow and deeper water there were dark Leeches, stretching to several centimetres then contracting, mating Palmate Newts, and a few frog tadpoles.
© Richard Coomber
Insects were represented by Southern Wood Ants teeming over their large brown hillock-nests. Several dozen were getting the better of a solitary Dor Beetle until a helping hand lifted it away from the unfair struggle, dusted it down and released it to safety. As the day warmed, butterflies appeared including Speckled Wood, spiralling round each other, Peacock, Brimstone and Orange Tip. A single dragonfly larva walked along the pebbly bed of a shallow drainage channel with Pond Skaters and Whirligig beetles on the deeper water.
© Duncan Wright
Spring flowers on the verges took our eye: one Tormentil, many Common Dog-Violets, Wood Anemones, Wood Sorrel and Wood Spurge. Bilberry had not been grazed as short as usual and some early flowers were present. As for ferns, Southern Polypody was found.
The first walk of the spring and summer season turned out to be the coldest wettest day for weeks. The weather did not deter 16 hardy members who met at Anderwood for a woodland walk. Spring is definitely in the air and many trees are budding much earlier than usual. We found Oak catkins which seem to be much earlier than usual, male and female Larch flowers, the females ready to become this year’s cones, and Birches already coming into leaf, everything looking very fresh in the rain.
The recent wind had brought down a lot of branches with lichens on them, including Parmelia caperata, Evernia prunastri, and Usnea subfloridiana, a long trailing lichen rather reminiscent of Spanish Moss. The unpolluted air of the New Forest makes it a very valuable habitat for many species of lichen, a fascinating organism which is a combination of a fungus and algae. The fungus part provides the structure while the algae contains chlorophyll and photosyntheses producing food for the lichen. The rain suited the mosses as well. Among the species identified were Leucobrium glaucum, Polytrichum commune, Thuiudium tamariscinium, Sphagnum sp and Dicranum majus.
We took our biscuit break (chocolate Hobnobs) in the shelter of the Eagle Oak, one of the ancient trees of the New Forest. It may be around 400 years old, possibly older, and has a circumference of 5.4metres. It is noteworthy as being the place where the last White-tailed Eagle was shot by a Forest keeper in around 1810. (This week I read that White-tailed Eagles are to be reintroduced on the Isle of Wight, so we may see them again in the Forest before too long.)
|The Eagle Oak and neighbouring Yew trees|
Common Dog-violets were flowering on the ride edges, and Male and Hard Ferns were seen by the ditches. A large flock of Chaffinches flew up from the ground, probably feeding on the last of the Beech nuts. Among the birds heard were Song Thrush, Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker. AM