Dog Lichen - Denny Lodge Inclosure

Walking up the cycle track which runs between Ladycross and Denny Lodge on 28th December we came upon a rather splendid collection of mosses and lichens on a log by the side of the path. One of the lichens in particular caught our eyes - a thalloid lichen with prominent apothecia (the fruiting bodies).

I believe that this is Peltigera hymenina, one of the so-called ‘dog’ lichens. The common name refers to the rhizinae (their anchorage of choice) supposedly looking like dog’s teeth. This led to them being considered a cure for rabies (good luck with that if you get bitten by a mad dog!)

It also turns out that various Peltigera sp. cause problems in lawns! There are several documents on Google about how to rid your lawns of them if you suffer from this problem.

P. hymenina is supposedly common and widespread, but I had only come across it in field guides up until now.

On this same log were several other lichens (including Cladonia digitata), lots of mosses and a single Scots pine seedling.


Walk Report : Maiden Lane - 14th December 2020

On the day of the New Moon Richard Smith met Brian in Maiden Lane at 08.30 for an unscheduled pre-Christmas 4 hour walk around Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve following an anti-clockwise route. The conditions at the start were very benign with sunshine and light winds, interrupted by the occasional light shower. The wind steadily increased throughout the morning and the skies became more menacing. The tide was very high and there was a lot of standing water resulting from the recent rain which filled the lagoons and flooded the fields. None of this bothered the birds however which were everywhere in large numbers. We set off along the footpath to Lower Pennington Lane and our first sighting of note was of 8 Barnacle Geese in the fields behind Oxey Barn. It was good to see quite a number of juveniles amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese which were grazing the same fields. 

Barnacle Geese amongst Canada and Brent Geese

Next came a large flock of Golden Plover and 2 Ruff on Pennington Marsh, one of which was very active and doing a passable impression of a snowman/bird! All of the usual suspects were on Fishtail but the Pintail (M) get the award for the snappiest dressers. We turned back from the junction of Keyhaven and Fishtail Lagoons and continued via Butts, Jetty and Pennington Lagoons, Oxey Marsh, Salterns Marsh and 8 Acre Pond to the undoubted highlight, Normandy Marsh. Because of the state of the tide birds were crammed into the lagoons and its islands. 

Ringed Plover and Dunlin

Neither they nor us were sheltered from the sudden arrival of squally winds and heavy rain/hail/sleet but we managed to see: Avocet, Red-breasted Merganser (M+F), Goldeneye (F), Kingfisher, Dunlin, Curlew, Cormorant, Great Black-backed Gull, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Shelduck, Shoveler, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher and Snipe.


Roe Deer had put in an appearance at 4 different locations on the walk and we put up a small flock of Bullfinches in Normandy Lane as we returned to our start point. It turned out to be lovely weather for ducks!

Walk Report : 19th November - Nomansland - Bramshaw

Seasonal pond at Nomansland Green. MW

Sandra, Marge & Marlene Covid-bubbled round this 2.5miles circuit on a sunny morning cooled by a stiff breeze. From opposite the Lamb Inn we stumbled through trees at the back of the Green to the path along the back fence of the old forest cottage. During a diversion along the side fence to see Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) perched on fallen logs, we were pestered by a large, grey horse that crept up behind us with evil intent; leaning over the paddock wire it sank its teeth into anorak and rucksack, luckily well padded.

Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) MR

Somewhat chewed, we made a hasty exit down the path through mixed woodland, tramping in thick, leafy layers below spindly birch and large beech, now almost bare, though oak was hanging on to rich-brown leaves. The little gully we crossed was in modest flow after recent rain that had benefited the bright, feathery tufts of Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant) overhanging the bank. 

Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant) MW

Joining a wide ride we continued downhill then turned left uphill towards Bramshaw Wood carpark. Several trees have fallen here over the years in messy tangles, bearing more Sulphur Tuft and stacks of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor). Tiny, glistening-white clumps of Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) contrasted with the hard, black blobs of King Alfred’s Cakes/Cramp Balls (Daldinia concentrica). Missing our field companions, we struggled with identifying some fungi but thought they might be Mycena sp. and/or Russula sp.  

Just short of the parking area we turned south-east onto the old Church Path. Heading steadily downhill, ignoring any side paths, we reached a bog, dry-ish in summer but now very wet.  Apart from some clumps of black and grey Candlesnuff (Xyaria hypoxylon) on mossy mounds, the only creature of note was a large golden retriever, revelling in traipsing through the mud up to its belly, clearly on borrowed time pending the arrival of the owner.

Candlesnuff (Xyaria hypoxylon) MW

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) MR

Cramp Balls (Daldinia concentrica) SP
Beside the path are some notable trees including a bulbous oak and con-joined beech and oak forever intertwined. A few yards along the road brought us to St. Peter’s at Bramshaw. A church on this site dates from Anglo-Saxon times but the current building has 3 main periods of construction: 13th. 15th. and 19th centuries and was partly in Wiltshire until the 1890s when the boundary was shifted. There are splendid rural views from the church mound and an extensive graveyard around and behind. The back stile leads into a meadow; currently cut to rough pasture, but where long grasses and buttercups grow in summer, providing hay for the winter. Following the path from the bottom left-hand gate we then swung north to reach the Newbridge road, passing a mysterious arrangement of 3 huge, cut trunks of oak with no sign nearby of their basal stump. We turned towards the Bramshaw road then cut the corner as far as the cattle grid for the final uphill stretch from Woodside Bottom to the Lamb.


Birds were clearly otherwise engaged this morning, making brief appearances or just calling from afar. Hence, we bagged only Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Common Buzzard (heard), Jackdaw, Nuthatch (heard), Robin and Woodpigeon. MW/SP/MR

Walk Report - 7th December - Bolderwood

On a misty morning Richard Smith, Diane and I set off from Bolderwood car park to look for winter thrushes.

We walked past the Deer Sanctuary (no deer or birds to be seen) and continued on the path downhill. It didn’t seem very promising as all we saw at first were robins, dunnocks and blackbirds but as we got further on there was movement above and around us. Long-tailed, great and blue tits, treecreeper, nuthatches and goldcrests were constantly on the move in the trees giving us good, if fleeting, views.

           Long-tailed Tit - RS

                                                    Great Tit - CR

The shortcut that we usually take on this part of the walk was so squelchy that we stayed on the hard path until it met the cycle path at a T-junction, where we turned right to head up to the holly plantation.  The birds were more obliging here with nuthatches feeding on the path and a goldcrest moving about in the bracken. 

                 Nuthatch - RS

                                                    Goldcrest - RS

As we proceeded uphill through the holly we became aware of the (mainly) redwings feeding on berries and chattering to each other. A green woodpecker called, very close by, though we couldn’t see it. We did see a song thrush on the ground and had a close view of a raven cronking as it flew over our heads. The fieldfares proved elusive – we only saw them in flight, but one redwing obligingly sat in a nearby tree delicately plucking the berries. 

Song Thrush - RS

There were a few chaffinches about but no bramblings that we could see, though the birds only had to be a few yards away to disappear in the mist. 

We made our way back to the car park for a warm drink. A shortish walk but a productive one.



Walk Report : 1st December 2020 - Setley Pond

We arranged to meet Richard Smith a couple of days early for our walk, due to the poor forecast for Thursdays weather . Meeting up at Setley Pond in early morning sunshine we immediately saw the grey heron, as Setley is known for its long standing heronry. Walking towards the A337 on first the heath and then through narrow paths we noted fresh rabbit holes, a field of crows and a pair of probably goldfinches flying swiftly away.

After crossing the main road, we walked along the ancient path, with its wide variety of ferns. There was a recently dug hole in the bank, with a very small hole - see photo, we thought possibly a bank vole. 

We carried on along this path up to Royden woods. There were many varieties of fungi to be spotted - we noted earth-balls, candle snuff, and blushing bracket. Through a small Copse we saw both great and long tail tits.

Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum

Candle Snuff Fungus Xylaria hypoxylon

We then joined the track through the woods and we heard a nuthatch, and when sitting down for biscuits Richard spotted a coal tit. 

Coal Tit - (Note: Ticks attached above eye)

?Mica Cap Coprinellus micaceus

The forestry people were hard at work felling trees and making log piles as we headed back to the main road, and we did a slight detour around. The weather was glorious, and after crossing the road we then made our way back to the car park across the Heath, there were very few birds, but plenty of ponies and we did see one stonechat.

We looked forward to when we can meet up as a group to have the depth of knowledge of collective membership. A very pleasant walk.

24 Nov Talk - The Birds of Costa Rica

A not-to-be-missed opportunity to leave gloomy lockdown behind and to travel with us to sunny Central America to learn about the colourful and magical bird life of Costa Rica.  Our speaker will be wildlife photographer, Steve Oakes.  

The World of the Hare

As a follow up to our last, wonderfully illustrated talk, given by Jane Russ, the Secretary of the Hare Preservation Trust, you might like to follow this link to her publisher, to see her wildlife series of books, including 'The Hare'.

Ergot of Rye

At this time of year many of us have been looking for fungi in the Forest. One that you may have overlooked is Claviceps purpurea, Ergot of Rye.

Easily missed, this is one of the most significant fungi in the history of mankind. It belongs to the fungal group called Ascomycetes and affects the ovaries of many grass species, but it is especially important in the Rye grass species. The ‘Ergot’ (from the old French argot, a cockspur) is the overwintering structure of the fungus. It contains a cocktail of alkaloids that cause harm and death to animals, including us.

During the Middle Ages ergot may have poisoned at least 10% of the population of western Europe, due to the use of rye in bread production. Until 1670 it was not understood that ergot was the cause of severe illness when ingested.

The effects of eating ergot in bread depend on the concentration of the alkaloids, but convulsions, spontaneous abortions and gangrene are the most obvious. It causes the peripheral blood vessels to contract, cutting off the blood supply to the extremities and to the womb, hence the miscarriages. It also contains hallucinogens making sufferers incoherent. It was commonly known as St. Anthony’s Fire as the sufferers were treated in hospitals dedicated to St. Anthony, usually until they died. Some outbreaks in the 1800s are reported to have had mortality rates of up to 40%.

Nowadays there are ways of separating the ergots from the rye seed and there are many pharmaceutical uses for the alkaloids, but I wouldn’t recommend eating any that you find!


Walk Report - 5th November - Eyeworth Pond

Eyeworth Pond
Given the date, it seemed appropriate for this walk to start from the site where gunpowder and later on, nitrocellulose or guncotton, had been manufactured. The Schultze gunpowder factory, built in the mid 19th century, was sited in this remote spot, presumably to minimise risk from explosions; several were reported. Eyeworth pond was formed by damming the small brook that rises in the valley to the North to create a six million gallon reservoir. (1) This provided the copious amounts of water required during the manufacture of guncotton, to wash wood pulp after its initial treatment with mixtures of nitric and sulphuric acid. The effluent passed into what becomes Latchmoor Brook with predictably dire consequences for wildlife downstream (2)

Schultze Gunpowder Factory - then and now

Little is left of the factory that at one time employed over 100 people and was the world’s largest supplier of sporting gunpowder. Some of the remaining buildings can still be seen and are believed to be  stabling for 40 horses and accommodation. Additionally, the gravel track from where the walk sets off, is known as Powder Mill Road, providing a route for explosives to be taken by horse and cart up onto the Cadnam road (3).

Powder Mill Road

Setting off on a bright calm morning, the pond was mirror calm, disturbed only by numerous pairs of Mallard, a few Moorhen, and a single Little Grebe. Immediately beside the car park, is a favourite spot for photographers who bait the surrounding posts and attract large numbers of woodland birds. Today was no exception and there were frequent visits by Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Robin and Chaffinch. Walking just a few yards north along the track, brings you to the site of the Irons Well or Chalybeate, marked on the OS. Here, a spring rises, rich in iron salts giving the ground a rusty brown appearance. The waters were thought to be a cure for leprosy and later, for curing mange in dogs and at one time there was a hatch where people could drop their unfortunate dogs into the healing waters! Nowadays the spring is simply an enclosed square close by the path.

Walking further along the track a Great Spotted Woodpecker called in the trees lining the path but evaded attention. Crossing over the valley and fording the small brook, that feeds Eyeworth pond, there is a short climb up onto the ridge above the valley where a fairly extensive stand of Holly trees is found. These were attended by Blackbird, Song Thrush and a small contingent of Redwing that proved flighty and difficult to photograph, but eventually patience was rewarded! 

Edge of Eyeworth Wood


Crossing the bridleway you reach the old earth embankments that define Studley Wood, a mixture of predominantly beech and some oak trees looking lovely in the Autumn sunshine. Little is left of Studley Castle, the old Hunting Lodge, aside from some slightly raised earthen banks, but it is a tranquil part of this forest. Walking back down the firebreak towards Eyeworth I heard a tremendous clattering of antlers in the woods and paused to watch, from a respectful distance, two Fallow Buck battering at each other, whilst the does looked on with little interest! Very few fungi were seen aside from some Candle Snuff fungi (Xylaria hypoxylon) on a log. A treecreeper explored an Oak tree, buzzard called overhead and Goldcrest flitted through the holly bushes but again, but all evaded photography!

Candle Snuff Fungus

Mandarin Duck

Returning to the pond, just above the sluice gate at the southern tip, I watched a Kingfisher hover briefly and dive before speeding off with its catch. Several pairs of  Mandarin Duck, for which Eyeworth is known, eventually emerged from the  edge of the pond and showed off in the sunshine. Finally, as I returned to the car, I was delighted to see Robert and Glynis, and again reminded of the pleasure of walking with a group of experts - one day, somehow, we will get back to that! Until then I post a route map and GPX file that can be downloaded by those  wishing to follow the route.





Map / GPX


Field Meeting report : 1st November 2020 - Roydon Woods

Happily for me, Richard Smith had offered to accompany me on the walk. In so doing, he represented the "wisdom of a full Lymnats contingent" (thankyou Geoff for that observation) and acted as photographer. So thankyou Richard. 

Soon after starting, the path crossed a grassy avenue of lime trees believed to be known as "The Gallops" and used to train race horses in the fifties. Through a gate we joined an undulating and meandering track through relatively open mixed woodland, the watery sun shining magically through the yellowy beech and bracken leaves. Turning onto a side path almost tunnel like in parts Richard pointed out grooved marks on the bark of some trees, possibly from a bit of antler sharpening or teeth marks. Sika deer have been seen in the past but not this time. It seemed we were at the start of a custom made fungi trail starting with amongst others a Hedgehog Fungi Hydnum repandum
False Chanterelle 
Hedgehog Fungus 

and a False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. Richard got busy photogaphing many of them for later and much appreciated identification. I have been able to include the results of his efforts in this report. Stopped to gather a few sweet chestnuts. Then through an area of birch and birch stumps to find a Turkeytail Trametes versicolor with some kind of slimy looking but quite solid fungus and a wonderful display on a stump including some Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare to name but two. 
Sulphur Tuft 
Turkey Tail 
Next, a change of trees as we passed into a mainly lodgepole plantation where we crossed a rough woodland roadway. Here we came across a Bay Bolete Imleria badia, a Razor Strop Piptopurus betulinus a Bloody Brittegill Russula sanguinara and coming out overlooking an open valley, a Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Bay Bolete

Birch Polypore

Bloody Brittlegill

Fly Agaric
Perhaps the fungi was compensation for the occasional fleeting glimpse of a bird. We descended into the valley which was populated with a few stunted birches, and stopped by an artificial pond which was disappointingly quiet, and then gently climbed up to the far side. We returned along the path along the top of the valley, which at times was almost carpet like to walk on when going through another very quiet plantation and eventually joined an initially shady bridlepath. A ten minute detour took us to the bridge over the Lymington River which was in full flow but not fast enough to stop a pony forcing it's splashy way across. Impressive none the less. Finally, near the end, a pair of Pied Wagtails in a field.

Footnote : Despite John's kind words of introduction,  we both agreed missing the "wisdom of crowds" that we enjoy so much in more normal times. I welcome any corrections to my very amateur identifications using Roger Philips fieldguide, iNaturalist  and RS