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)