This weeks walk: 21 February 2019 Keyhaven (SZ308916)

Duncan will be leading this week's walk from Keyhaven (SZ308916), setting off at 10:00

Walk report: 07 February 2019 Tanners Lane

Roe Deer © Chris Robinson

On a bright but blowy morning 16 of us gathered together for the morning’s walk. We progressed down the hill towards the Solent and the beach. In the field to our right were three female Roe Deer. Small birds flitted in and out of the hedge, mostly Blue Tits.

As we reached the beach we could see Wigeon and Brent Geese. On closer inspection we also spotted Curlew, Oystercatcher, Pintail, Turnstone and Dunlin. We paused to admire the Goji Berry plants that grow behind the strandline. Gojis (Lycium barbarum) are an escaped garden plant that was popularly grown for it’s berries. They are tolerant of salt spray, hence they grow all along this walk. It is a member of the Solanum family and it’s flowers (in summer) look like nightshade. The berries are only edible when fully ripe!

Walking the shore
© Richard Coomber
We walked further along and up onto the permissive footpath through the trees. There is an abundance of Butcher’s Broom growing here, an indication that there has been little disturbance for a long time. There was an absence of small birds, though there was a tail-less Dunnock, presumably a survivor of an attack by a predator.

When we reached an area of real mud we stopped to have a break. Out on the sea we spotted six Red-breasted Mergansers and (on the islands) Grey Plover. We then retraced our steps.

The rear-guard (Pam and Richard) saw a Merlin and a Raven, but we were too strung out for most of us to see them. As we reached the fields at the bottom of Tanners Lane we were treated to a flock of 20 or 30 Redwing flying from the hedge to the field and back, and Richard spotted a large group of Grey Plover on one of the few islands still visible at high tide.

Blleding Oak Crust

© Richard Coomber
Back at the cars Duncan investigated a fungus that had been found at the beginning of the walk, and identified it as Bleeding Oak Crust Stereum gausapatum. It gets it’s common name from the fact that if you damage it (ie removing a piece for microscopic examination later) it produces a red substance that looks a bit like blood! CR. 

This week's talk: 12 February 2019 Ladybirds - Identification and Ecology

Bryan Pinchen with give us his talk on Ladybirds, one of his many areas of expertise (see elsewhere on this blog for booking details etc)

Pulling Balsam - Help wanted!

Once again several of our members will be helping Catherine Chatters and Jo to clear Himalayan Balsam from the rivers and streams in our area.

Any help would be greatly appreciated by Catherine and her team.

Her details and further information are as follows:

Catherine Chatters
New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
Testwood Lakes Centre, PO Box 268, Bunel Road, Southampton, SO40 3XP
Telephone 023 8042 4205; Mobile ‘phone 07770 923315
View the Project web-page at:-

From the HIWWT web pages:

The New Forest is a crucial area for wildlife but it is threatened by invasive non-native plants. These plants were introduced to UK gardens as ornamentals or as oxygenators in garden ponds but they have 'jumped the garden fence' and invaded the countryside. They grow vigorously, spread rapidly and elbow-out our native wildflowers which provide important food and nectar for invertebrates.
Our ongoing efforts, often supported by volunteers, are helping to control the spread of these vigorous invaders and protect habitats for native plants and wildlife.
Himalayan balsam
© Lianne de Mello


Because non-native plants are free from their native predators, they are often able to dominate a landscape with remarkable speed, pushing out the native plants and the invertebrates that depend on them.
With a decline in invertebrates comes a drop in species further up the food chain. Birds, fish and mammals can all be affected by this loss in diversity. Our wildlife depends on a well-balanced ecosystem, free of invasive non-native species.
Calmore Guides pulling Himalayan balsam in the New Forest

You can help...

Work Parties ... 

Please get in touch with Catherine Chatters on 07770 923315 or email if you are interested in volunteering. You can see a selection of upcoming work party dates here.
For a full list of work parties to pull Himalayan balsam please contact Catherine Chatters.

These forthcoming local events might be of interest:

Brian has asked us to mention the Winchester Local Group of HIWWT have 2 walks coming up in our area:

Sunday, 24 February, 10.00 - 15.00 "Normandy and Oxey Marshes Bird Walk" (to be led by our Brian).

Sunday, 24 March, 10.00 - 15.00 "Keyhaven for Birds" with John Clark.

Bring lunch. For full details see website ( There is no charge but, as these are fundraising events, there is a suggested donation of £4.00

And until 17 March this is at St. Barbe Museum, Lymington:

The current exhibition at St Barbes Museum, Lymington are the 2018 The British Wildlife Photography Awards 2018 photographs until 17 March 2019.

“The British Wildlife Photography Awards celebrate the beauty and diversity of British wildlife as captured by amateur and professional photographers. This exhibition presents the winning pictures chosen from thousands of entries and is a showcase for the countrys leading photographers."

This stunning collection comprises around 90 photographs chosen across fifteen categories including coast and marine life, animal behaviour, plants, habitats, the seasons and urban wildlife. There are also categories for film and junior photographers. Each image is accompanied by the photographers personal insights into the circumstances and inspiration behind the shot. These incredible photographs give us a chance to marvel at the wonders of British wildlife from the spectacular to the everyday, all presented in thought-provoking and eye-catching compositions.”

Walk Report: 03 February 2019 Keyhaven - 1st Sunday bird walk

Common Seals © Richard Smith
On Sunday Brian, deputizing for Duncan, led 10 LymNats from Keyhaven following the 5km Brent Trail out along the sea wall and back via the "Ancient Highway". The morning was sunny and clear with light winds from the SW but the severity of the recent cold snap was still evident in the frozen lagoons and the snow-covered fields on the Isle of Wight.

The sea was flat calm and a lot of birds were to be found offshore being denied access to open water on the lagoons. The first sighting, perched on its customary hedgerow in Keyhaven, was of a Marsh Harrier - on any other day this might have been the highlight. Next came a male Bullfinch and then, looking across Hawker's Lake towards the yacht moorings, two Common (or Harbour) seals were hauled out and lounging on the
Rock Pipit © Chris Robinson
exposed mud banks. It is likely that there were two more, briefly observed "bottling" with head and neck clear of the water, but these were disturbed by the presence of kayakers and paddle-boarders. Continuing to Iley Point 10+ Snipe were feeding frantically, in the manner of a sewing machine, in soft mud on Keyhaven Marsh. Their cryptically-marked plumage is less effective camouflage in bright sunlight.

Offshore, a Peregrine made an unsuccessful low-level attack. On Butts Lagoon a Rock Pipit auditioned for "Dancing on Ice", dexterously plucking insects off the surface of the ice. Passing the Shoveler Pools, Chris was able to identify two Water Pipits with his 'scope, stating that it was his best ever view of this species.
Common Snipe
© Richard Smith
Returning along the "Ancient Highway", and while observing a Kestrel in a tree top, a pair of Roe deer raised their heads. The male was in velvet and the female may well have been pregnant as, whilst the rut is in summer, gestation is long due to the delayed implantation of the egg(s) and the young (sometimes twins) will be born in the following May - June. The final treat was the aerial display of four Marsh Harriers, probably drifting above the Avon Water's reed beds. In a morning of numerous highlights it would be remiss not to give a special mention to the large numbers of Pintail, a supremely elegant duck. BM


Talk report: 22 January 2019 Titchfield Haven by Barry Duffin

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve covers the lower floodplain of the River Meon on the eastern side of Southampton Water. It is a wetland nature reserve with varied habitats including river, reedbeds and scrapes. The site was purchased by Hampshire County Council in 1972 and expanded later in the 20th century; it now extends from Titchfield Village south to the shore. Barry Duffin was warden there for many years and came to talk to Lymington & District Naturalists’ Society about the creation and management of the reserve and the wildlife that now uses it.

The reedbeds are good for both wintering birds such as Snipe and Water Rail and also for summer migrants which use the beds for nesting. The Reed Warbler, a small summer migrant which constructs its nest halfway up the reed stems, is the most numerous nesting bird at the reserve. Unfortunately for the Reed Warbler its nest can sometimes be used by a female Cuckoo which lays a single egg then abandons it to be incubated and the chick subsequently raised by the Reed Warbler pair. 

Otters now live on the Meon and are now regular visitors to the reserve being caught on cameras usually at night. In previous years the presence of Mink along the river was a problem as they predated many of the Coot and Moorhen chicks and ducklings as well as Water Voles. However both the reserve and adjacent landowners made concerted efforts to eradicate them and together with the return of Otters this has resulted in no Mink being detected for the last two years. Water Voles have now been reintroduced and are breeding successfully.

In winter the meadows adjacent to the river are a valuable feeding resource for the wintering waders and wildfowl such as Wigeon, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit; the reserve holds internationally important numbers of the latter. A traditional method of water meadow management has been reinstated: in freezing weather when birds would be prevented from feeding water is allowed to run gently over the meadow thus raising the temperature of the soil and preventing the formation of ice. 

Scrapes are shallow depressions with gently sloping edges which hold water and remain damp for much of the year. They support a wide variety of invertebrates and can provide important feeding areas for breeding wading birds and their chicks. The large scrapes at Titchfield Haven provide nesting areas for over 1000 Black-headed Gulls. They are an ideal roosting site for waders when the tide is high and the sea-shore is inaccessible.

The reserve is very reliant on volunteers, of whom there are over 80, for the management of the site, for wardening and for running the information centre. Volunteers also run an autumn bird-ringing programme under BTO regulations which frequently catches rare visitors from eastern Europe and Asia.

It was a treat to hear about this important Hampshire nature reserve from Barry who has such in-depth knowledge of its creation, its subsequent development and its current status. For more information about the society please see