Forthcoming walks 01 and 05 March 2020

We have two walks this week.

On Sunday 01 March Chris Robinson will lead the last of our winter Sunday bird walks starting from Keyhaven (SZ308916) at 10:00

On Thursday 05 March Richard Smith will lead a bird walk to Acres Down (SU267097) also setting off at 10:00

Walk report: Blackwater20 Feruary 2020

Fifty mile an hour winds and heavy rain were forecast but six members turned up at Rhinefield for a spot of ‘shinrin yoku’ or forest bathing, the Japanese idea that a walk among trees can be a relaxing and de-stressing spiritual experience. Of course we all know this anyway or we wouldn’t be LymNats.
Blackwater area
© Richard Coomber

We went to look at the wetland restoration work that has been done at Fletchers Water. Under a scheme using money from Europe, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and other interested bodies, meanders have been reinstated to restore the stream to how it would have been before 19th century commoners straightened it to improve drainage and grazing. The idea is also to hold back rainwater from flooding downstream. The work done is impressive and it all looks very natural.

Examining one of the Giant Sequoias
© Chris Robinson
We looked at an area where a dense patch of Western Hemlock had been removed to create an open grazing area for the deer. The hemlock is a prolific self-seeder and something of a weed. No deer to be seen but a flock of Redwing were spotted.

We learned how to tell the difference between several conifers; Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce and Scots and Corsican Pines. Hemlock and Douglas Fir have very distinctive and strong scents. All these conifers were planted by the Forestry Commission to test as timber trees in the days when the Forest was considered as a timber factory. Nowadays the policy is to increase the number of deciduous trees and the amenity value of the Forest.

Coastal Redwood bark
© Richard Coomber

Giant Sequoia © Richard Coomber
These trees were planted around the 1850s but are still young, as they can live for up to 1,000 years or more. Their soft fibrous bark acts as protection from fire and insects and is irresistibly tactile.  AM

Walk report: Rockford Common 06 February 2020

Early fog and frost gave way to sunshine and a light mist as 14 assembled for a 2.5 mile stroll from the National Trust car parAk by the sand pit at Moyles Court. Nearby stands an ancient, craggy, oak tree: a contender with the Knightwood Oak for the oldest tree in the Forest. This hilly region was not part of the New Forest until 1964. Before then, and for a while afterwards, extraction of plateau gravels created a large depression that remains today, but is now reclaimed by heathland. Public rights of way criss-cross the area where dwellings, large and small, are scattered in isolated spots reached only by rough tracks. The habitat comprises mainly open heath and moorland with small streams and patches of woodland.
A cold and frosty morning
© Richard Coomber

We headed south-east, steeply uphill along the edge of properties where stocky oaks still cling to a high, eroding bank. At the top, the site of the gravel workings came into view: a large bowl several metres deep, now grassy with small trees and Gorse. A short detour gave a hazy view westwards down to the lakes at Blashford and the Avon valley. Back on track we turned north-east along the south rim of the workings then down to Little Whitemoor Bottom. Passing a small cottage, we headed into woodland where a muddy path led up to Rockford Common. A left turn through Gorse led down to a small stream that comes and goes with the season in Big Whitemoor Bottom. From here it was an easy track westwards on the rim then down to the floor of the old gravel area and back to the cars. 

© Richard Smith
© Chris Robinson
Apart from a few clusters of lichen, Ganoderma sp and Stereum sp on rotten branches, birds were the main interest. We watched a solitary Goldcrest (see above) swinging in a small conifer then, obligingly, in a bare tree for several minutes, completely undisturbed by our presence. Also of note was a flock of 50+ Redwing, a Buzzard, Peregrine and an elusive Woodlark, or possibly more than one, calling but not spotted. In addition, the following were seen or heard by at least some of the group: Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Long-tailed tits, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch (heard only) and Robin. MW/SP