Walk report: 21 March 2019 Linford Bottom

Goldcrest near the car park © Richard Smith

On a mild cloudy spring morning 
18 of us set out from Linford Bottom. The Forestry Commission had recently been working in this area, clearing scrub to create more lawn and thinning woodland and rides to open up the canopy. This has been done to allow more light in which should improve plant diversity and encourage butterflies. This work however did not detract from the walk itself for there was plenty of birdsong for us to identify as we listened to the drumming of Great Spotted Woodpeckers whilst we walked through the Great Linford Inclosure.

The woodland here is mixed with fine stands of Scots Pine, Douglas Fir and Norway Spruce and throughout there was constant calling and movement of Siskin in the trees. In a clearing stood a single specimen tree of Lawson Cypress, this was unexpected because Lawson Cypress is rarely planted for its timber as the main trunk may fork, thus reducing the value of the timber grown. Continuing on we came across a Southern Wood Ant’s nest which had been damaged, a large number of worker ants had piled out to do repairs, then further on a Chiffchaff was heard and seen flitting about catching insects, this was a first for many of us this year.

Wild Daffodil - just one of many © Richard Smith
After leaving the Inclosure we turned back through an area of old gnarled Oak, excellent territory for hole nesting birds, a Wren’s nest was seen. Wood Sorrel and Bluebell leaves were emerging, a good indication of really old woodland. Eventually the path opened out to a small area of heathland which went down to Linford Brook. It was here, near the water we found the large patch of Wild Daffodils we had come to see. This area also has a few small streams feeding into the brook. In this water long strings of toad spawn were found and, from the bridge over the brook Minnows and Whirligig Beetles were seen.

Finally we followed the track through the gorse leading up to Little Linford Inclosure, where we proceeded along the woodland edge and crossed Linford Brook again to return to the car park. PP

Birds seen included:- Dunnock, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jay, Wren, Chiffchaff, Buzzard, Siskin and Mallard.
Flowering Plants :-Lesser Celandine, Wild Daffodils and Goat Willow
Ferns : Common Polypody Fern, Male and Hard Ferns.
Fungi :- Yellow Brain Fungus Tremella mesenterica on gorse.
Mammals:- Bank Vole

This week's talk: 26 March 2019 John Combes "Exploring the Dorset Stour"

Before enjoying John Combes' talk "Exploring the Dorset Stour" we have our annual short AGM.

John Combes is a regular visitor to us from Ringwood and will show us some of the natural history of one of our local rivers – the Stour

At The Lymington Centre (McLellan Hall) commencing at 7.15pm. Visitors are always welcome for a small charge (adults £5, juniors £1).

Walks reports: 07 March 2019 Piper's Wait

Most Lym Nats walks follow the proposed programme like clockwork, but today’s meeting at Piper’s Wait, had one or two unexpected twists. Unusually this report covers some of the extra curricular activities. With roadworks disrupting travel it turned out that two walks took place simultaneously!

Piper’s Wait (part 1)

Piper’s Wait just happened to be in one of the squares that Duncan had been allocated as part of the Hampshire Ornithological Society’s Woodlark survey, so he and Richard decided to fit in a required visit ahead of the Lym Nats walk and that meant leaving Lymington at 07:00! At Brockenhurst they had to detour to avoid the closure of the road for a collision, apparently involving two cars, that took place at the level crossing an hour earlier. Nearing the study area they saw an early male Wheatear at Janesmore and a few minutes later were on site to cover the area between Longcross Pond and the Piper’s Wait car park - the rendezvous for the walk.

It was gloriously sunny, but there was a biting northly wind that drove ominous black clouds from which snow appeared to be falling, although that was melting on reaching lower levels. Before long there was a complete reversal of the weather as stinging, horizontal and driving rain significantly reduced visibility out on the exposed heath forcing the intrepid duo to seek shelter in a Holly thicket. With no improvement in sight they phoned Adrian, the walk’s leader, recommending that the walk be cancelled, but that they would stay at Piper’s Wait in case anyone turned up.

After a while a clearance came through and the sun reappeared, but we had no idea that the road from Nomansland was closed for repairs until Duncan had a  ‘phone call from Chris. Unfortunately he was on the wrong side, so would not be joining us! By the appointed hour five stalwarts were on site and although the wind was still vicious they set-off. Over the next two hours or so strong gusts nearly blew the telescopes over on occasions, but they were saved by good slip-catching by party members.

Yellow Brain © Richard Coomber
Although we failed to see the hoped for Goshawks, there were several sightings of soaring Common Buzzard and Ravens as well as passing Stock Doves. Small birds were few and far between – distant Woodlarks, telescope views of Skylarks, a male Stonechat and Meadow Pipits. There were a few species of fungi to be seen: Dung Roundhead on horse poo, Yellow Brain on Gorse ‘trunks’ and guess where Duncan found Bracken Map?

Luckily further stormy showers passed to the north and south of us, and when we returned to the cars we all agreed that in spite of the conditions it had all been worthwhile and invigorating. There was a sting in the tail however, for by that time the rolling road repairs had closed the route to the south. Duncan went along and negotiated our exit in less than three minutes. Perhaps we should offer his services to Number 10! (RC)

Piper’s Wait (part 2)

In Bramshaw Wood © Tina Vaughan
Despite heavy rain on the journey to Piper’s Wait, a road closure, sheep and cattle in the road and absence our leader an intrepid group of ten had an enjoyable walk around a very wet Bramshaw Wood, largely in the sunshine, with Brian Vaughan navigating a circular route.

Exida plana © Glynis Payne
We were treated to a flash of blue from a Jay and a flurry of Chaffinches as we set out and a lone Goldcrest flitting around a Holly tree very close to us. On a scrubby heath in a cold and strong northerly wind we found Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare with Blue Tits in adjacent bushes before moving into the welcome shelter of the wood. Also recorded were Buzzard and Great Spotted Wood-pecker.

Oyster Rollrim © Glynis Payne
Here we found two donkeys and a variety of bracket fungi, including Turkeytail Trametes versicolor and a large clump of two species of jelly fungus on some dead wood: a black globular mass like a brain called Exida plana and a similar form but of clear jelly with dark centres resembling frog spawn called Crystal Brain Exida nucleata. Another interesting fungus found nearby was Oyster Rollrim Tapinella panuoides with its convoluted cap.

Marsh Tits were heard singing but never seen, but Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits and a Nuthatch were heard and seen as we came close to returning to our car park in Nomansland. (RP)

This week's talk: Tuesday 12 Mar 2019 The Snakes in the Heather Project - Helping Britain’s Rarest Reptile by Ben Limburn

Tuesday 12 Mar 2019 The Snakes in the Heather Project - Helping Britain’s Rarest
Reptile by Ben Limburn.

Ben is from the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust and will tell us about this important initiative to help the Smooth Snake.

At The Lymington Centre (McLellan Hall) commencing at 7.15pm. Visitors are always welcome for a small charge (adults £5, juniors £1).

Walk report: 03 March 2019 Normandy Bird Walk

To misquote a previous Prime Minister, just over a week is a long time in the walks programme of Lymington Naturalists! Following a spell of mild weather during which we enjoyed the Keyhaven walk, Storm Freya arrived for this walk. However, despite the wind and the rain, the enthusiasm of Chris, Brian and John, with Duncan leading, was not dampened!
We joined the sea wall from Maiden Lane just after High Water (Lymington) and walked to the Yacht Haven before heading back along Normandy Lane.

Curlew © Chris Robinson
On Normandy Lagoon the group enjoyed close views of a variety of ducks and waders including several Grey Plover, two Avocets, six Red-breasted Mergansers, two female Goldeneye, good numbers of Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits and Turnstones, a drake Scaup and three Greenshanks. Indeed, one landed on the footpath in front of us!

Sweet Violets © Chris Robinson
After leaving the sea wall along the recently refurbished footpath, the field to the left contained more than 60 Curlews. Other birds of note seen during our walk were Rock and Meadow Pipits.

Walking back along Normandy Lagoon, we saw a Roe deer. Of botanical interest, we enjoyed seeing sizable patches of Lesser Celandine and Red Dead-nettle as well as a smaller area of Sweet Violet Viola odorata, our earliest flowering member of the Viola family. 

We arrived back at Maiden Lane just after midday having seen 42 species of birds although, arguably more importantly, with a collective feeling of ‘that was good, I’m glad we didn’t let the weather beat us’. (DW)