Walk report: 23 December 2021 Testwood Lakes with Geoff Nuckley

Testwood Lakes © Glynis Payne

On a murky and “mizzley” morning, a small group gathered for the final field meeting of 2021.

There was limited avian activity on the walk to the hides and identification was hampered by the dull conditions, but Magpie, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch and Jackdaws were noted. Even though it was only just past the shortest day, some early signs of spring were already apparent through the woodland with lots of Alder and Hazel catkins forming as well as the black buds of a lone Ash tree.

Hazel catkins and spider's web © Glynis Payne

The group had to split up owing to Covid restrictions in the hides but we all had fine views of a Great White Egret and Grey Heron, peaceful at first but later having an “argy-bargy” before settling again further apart. 

Great White Egret © Glynis Payne

Grey Heron © Glynis Payne

Active feeders were Mallard, Shoveler and Tufted Duck in the water, Coot on the grass bank between the lakes and Lapwing on the mud. Several Cormorant were resting on the island in the farthest lake where a solitary Great Crested Grebe was also seen.  A “mystery” diving duck was the subject of much discussion - mostly about what it was not!  Pochard was our initial thinking. Fortunately, Glynis managed to get a good photo despite the misty drizzle and Richard Coomber later confirmed that it was indeed a Pochard – an immature drake.

Tufted Duck - adult and immature drakes © Glynis Payne

Pochard - immature drake © Glynis Payne

Leaving the hides for the walk back, a Goldcrest was immediately seen, and another was found further on. Brian, who was ahead of the group, flushed a pair of Pheasants but was not quick enough to bag one for his Christmas dinner! We stopped briefly to look for any activity in the pond in the woodland and were startled when a solitary Roe Deer erupted from the undergrowth alongside us and quickly disappeared into the vegetation on the other side of the path.

Round house, Testwood Lakes © Glynis Payne

Candlesnuff Fungus © Glynis Payne

Puffballs and Oak Curtain Crust had been seen through the woodland and returning towards the car park, a last treat was a fine display of Candle Snuff fungi on tree stumps by the path. GN

Walk report: 09 December 2021 An introduction to Lichen at Boldre Churchyard with Duncan Wright

 An introduction to Lichens at St John’s Churchyard, Boldre

Thursday 9 December 2021

A record number of members turned up for this ‘walk’ (if approximately 250 yards in 2.5 hours - 0.06 mph - can be described thus!).

It was led by Duncan Wright, an enthusiastic member of Lymington Naturalists until he moved to Petersfield in October 2019. During his introduction he emphasised that the objective of the walk was not an I-spy activity but rather to encourage people to look closely at lichen thereby hopefully enhancing their natural history walks.

He accepted that lichens are very much a minority interest when compared with birds, plants, insects (especially butterflies and moths) and fungi because, for example, they are very small and have no generally accepted non-scientific names. However, significant advantages for studying them include not flying away, not dying back in the winter, not changing plumage and the fact that they are everywhere – literally from the North Pole to the South Pole! All that is needed to appreciate their beauty is inquisitiveness and a hand lens (ideally 10x).

A hand out had been prepared to help participants focus on the key features of lichens. This included a glossary of some of the terms used to describe lichens along with some photographs (not to scale) of a few of the common ones that could be seen in the churchyard, whether on trees or headstones. It was stressed that species identification is not always possible without the use of chemicals and microscopy.

The book Duncan used was:

Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to British and Irish Species by Frank S Dobson (7th edition) and published by British Lichen Society

There is also a pack of FSC illustrated information cards Wildlife Pack No 20 that is very useful.

A crustose lichen © Duncan Wright


A foliose lichen © Glynis Payne

A fruticose lichen © Richard Smith

Duncan's Lichen id checklist and glossary:

Location and Habitat



Growing on? (substrate)



Thallus* type* and size



Thallus colour (wet/dry?) Upper and lower surfaces



Lobes - Size? Turn up? Flat? Shape?



Thallus edge (prothallus*?  thick/thin?) -- for crustose



Rhizines* -- appearance and location eg middle or all over









Soredia* -- where on thallus?






Pseudocyphellae* Maculae*



Apothecia*? Type*?



Anything else?



 Thallus – the body of the lichen containing fungal and algal cells

Thallus types (basic) – foliose (leaf like), fruticose (shrub like, attached at only one point), crustose (crusty)

Prothallus – margin of crustose thallus without algal cells

Rhizines – root like fungal filaments on lower surface of foliose thallus

Cilia – ‘eyelashes’ on ends/margins of lobes

Areoles – islands formed by cracks in the thallus. Grow together to form crazy paving appearance.

Soredia – small powdery grains containing fungi and algae

Isidia – detachable outgrowth on the thallus containing fungi and algae

Pseudocyphellae – pale patch, dot or line on thallus 

Maculae – blotchy/mottled on thallus

Apothecia – fruiting body

Apothecia type – ‘jam tart’, ‘wine gum’, ‘squiggles’

Bird Walk report: 29 November 2021 Maiden Lane with Brian Matthews

Having arrived via Normandy Marsh and not seeing much of interest it was decided to concentrate on Oxey Marsh, particularly as it was still some 2 hours before LW. It was a bright, sunny morning (if somewhat chilly) with thankfully light winds. The anticlockwise route took in Eight Acre Pond, Salterns Lagoon, the bridge across Moses Dock, and a circuit of Oxey Marsh via the sea wall and Oxey Lagoon.

HCC acquired Normandy Farm at auction in May 1973, followed by Salterns and Eight Acre Pond in the autumn of that year. Pennington/Oxey Marshes were acquired in the late 1970s to avert the threat posed to a large-scale grazing marsh by commercial gravel extraction.

Grey Heron  © Glynis Payne

Some highlights of the walk: a sizeable group of Little Grebe (affectionately also known as "Dabchick") on Eight Acre Pond, often diving under with a little leap and reappearing like a cork. On Salterns Lagoon male and female Shovelers dabbled in tight, circular flocks for seeds and invertebrates. Inside their distinctive bill is a series of sieves and bristles which holds onto the food it collects by filter feeding, while letting the water drain out. To reach slightly deeper food they would up-end when the long, pointed wingtips became especially conspicuous. A Greenshank flew in.

Drake Shoveler about to land © Chris Robinson

Shovelers feeding © Glynis Payne

Greenshank © Chris Robinson

On Oxey Marsh a Raven had found a tasty morsel, possibly a rabbit and on reaching the sea wall (and following a break) what might have been a Common Sandpiper was in fact a solitary Dunlin and 3 Spotted Redshank on Oxey Lagoon whilst offshore 2 Slavonian Grebes were in the company of a Great-crested Grebe.

Spotted Redshank © Glynis Payne

The falling tide had, by this time, exposed the mud of Oxey Lake and Four Acre Pond, where many birds were taking advantage of this feeding opportunity: Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Curlew. These besides the usual suspects seen en route: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Mallard, Pintail, Teal, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Coot, Lapwing, various Gulls, Carrion Crow, Rook and Magpie.

Some LymNats were lucky enough to see a Snipe in flight, a Kingfisher and a Water Rail. Lasting just over 2 hours the walk ended back at Maiden Lane. Who knows what rarities might have been waiting on Normandy? BM

Water Rail © Richard Smith

Thanks to our photographers for and excellent selection of images from the walk and incidentally nothing unusual was reported from Normandy. Ed.

BIRD WALK: 29 November 2021 Maiden Lane with Brian Matthews

 This December's Bird Walk actually takes place in November!

29 November meeting at Maiden Lane (SZ327941) at 10:00 and led by Brian Matthews

Three Words: consoled.dishes.craft

This week's ZOOM talk: Tuesday 23 November 2021 at 7.15pm,: Island of the Fairy Tern by Andy Lester

                                                    Island of the Fairy Tern

by Andy Lester

Tuesday 26 October 2021 at 7.15pm, via ZOOM: Island of the Fairy Tern by Andy Lester

Andy is a well-travelled naturalist and photographer and will be talking to us about St. Helena.

The talk will last for approximately 60 minutes, followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

Also, ensure you have updated your Zoom account as it might be no more than 9 months behind the current version.

Please try your Zoom connection prior to the evening and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need some support.

Then, to access the meeting on the night, click on the link provided by our email, dated 18 November, from 7pm onwards. You will see a slideshow to start with.

Please remember to:

·                     Turn on your audio when requested at the login stage to hear what is being said

·                     Keep your video turned off and stay muted during the presentation

·                     Please only turn on your microphone if directed in order to ask a question

We look forward to seeing you there and hope, again, that you enjoy the talk.

Walk Report: 18 November 2021 James Hill with Pam Poole

On a mild dry morning we set out to walk the James Hill woods to Allum Green House, taking the upper path for the outward route and returning along the lower path. These woods were full of autumn colour consisting mainly of Beech and Oak with areas of Holly covered in their bright red berries.

Our route © Ordnance Survey

At the entrance to the woods there were stacks of felled trees where fungi were forming. The early November winds had blown down several lichens, the green-grey Parmelia caperata, the curled branches of Evernia prunastri and the fine threads of Usnea subfloridana.  Several old fallen Beech trees had various species of fungi on them, but without a fungi expert we had difficulty identifying them. There were groups of Inkcaps and Mycena fungi, together with Turkeytail Trametes versicolor and King Alfred’s Cakes Daldinia concentrica. Growing beneath the trees were False Deathcap Amanita citrina, Beechwood Sickener Russula nobilis and, the deflated ochre coloured Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum.

Grey Wagtail © Chris Robinson

Along the route we could hear the calls of Jay, Nuthatch, and Redwing and where the woods opened out to heathland Redwing were seen in the surrounding trees together with a few Starlings and Woodpigeons. At this point we took the track that turns down to Allum Green House and some cottages. To the front of the house is a green. On the house roof a Grey Wagtail was seen, and Pied Wagtails were flitting around together with a small flock of House Sparrows.

Butter Waxcap © Richard Smith

Parrot Waxcap © Richard Smith

On the green itself we found the cup shaped fruiting bodies of the lichen Cladonia and an egg-shaped fruiting body of a stinkhorn that had not emerged yet. On the grassy areas Butter Waxcap Hygrocybe ceracea and Parrot Waxcap Hygrocybe psittacina were found. Scattered under a large Oak we noticed numerous spangle galls. These galls are caused by a tiny wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. The spangle galls detach from the underside of the Oak leaves and fall to the ground. Then when the Oak leaves fall the leaf litter formed protects the galls over winter. In April the wasps emerge and lay unfertilized eggs on Oak catkins and a current gall is formed. In June both male and female wasps emerge from the current gall, they mate, and the female then lays fertilized eggs on the underside of Oak leaves and the whole process starts again. 

Spangle Galls © Richard Coomber

After studying the spangle galls, we walked up to the memorial bench dedicated to the 4 soldiers killed when Allum Green house was bombed in 1940. In this area we saw several more species of fungi. They were Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystinaBlusher Amanita rubescens and a group of cup shaped fungi called Hare’s Ear Otidea onotica together with Upright Coral Ramaria stricta.

Upright Coral © Richard Smith

Pathercap © Richard Smith

Walking on we followed the return track through a very wet area where Wet Rot Coniophora puteana and Phlebia rufa were visible on decaying wood. Finally turning left up to the path leading to the car park we came across fallen wood that was stained green from Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens and a flock of Chaffinches feeding on Beech mast. Other birds seen were Robin, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Wren. PP

Walk report: 04 November 2021 Eyeworth Pond with Richard Smith

Meeting at Eyeworth Pond we had early views of male and female Mallard, and Mandarin Duck gathered mostly on the wooded margins, along with a pair of Teal.

A pair of Mandarins © Glynis Payne

We set out under bright sky, walking into a brisk northerly wind, progressing along the old Powder Road gravel track and the adjoining woods where we found a variety of fungi including Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius. We paused briefly to inspect the Chalybeate Iron Well and the iron-stained ground around it which borders the path on the brook feeding Eyeworth Pond. 

Spectacular Rustgill © Glynis Payne

Chalybeate Iron Well © Richard Smith
Before crossing the brook further upstream, we had excellent views of individual groups of Fallow Deer - buck and hinds crossing the open ground beneath Eyeworth Wood. A melanistic buck stood out with an impressive set of antlers.

Melanistic Fallow buck © Richard Smith 

Walking uphill towards Eyeworth Wood, small groups of Redwing fed and flew between berry laden Holly bushes. A few Dwarf Gorse and Ling were in flower amongst the scrub forming this part of the walk.

Reaching the ridge overlooking Howen Bottom, we found Common Wasp and a solitary European Hornet circling around and feeding amongst the more sheltered holly bushes. Pausing for coffee in Eyeworth Wood, offered an opportunity for fungi hunting which included Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea growing amongst the numerous fallen and decaying trees found in this wood. Also found during the walk were , Green Elf-cup Chlorociboria eruginascensAmethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystine and Burgundydrop Bonnet Mycena haematopus.

Amethyst Deceiver with Green Elfcup © Chris Robinson
Burdundydrop Bonnet © Chris Robinson

Returning along the bridlepath through the woods, we spotted Blackbird, Blue Tit and large groups of Chaffinch foraging amongst the Beech mast and leaves. A single Brambling was also spotted briefly. Butchers Broom was found in some parts of the lower woodland and the fields next to the woods there were also small groups of Starling and a Green Woodpecker. We enjoyed watching a couple of sows, one a Gloucester Old Spot, and several piglets that rummaged around in the fields beside Eyeworth Lodge. 

Arriving back at Eyeworth Pond, the old adage “you see more birds in the car park” proved correct! We were treated to excellent views of a pair of Goosander, repeatedly diving to feed, as well as Moorhen, and larger numbers of Mandarin Duck. RS

A pair of Goosanders © Glynis Payne

Our route © Ordnance Survey

This week's talk: Tuesday 09 November in St. Thomas' Church Hall

                          NATURE IN TRUST

by Mike Read

This week's talk is in St. Thomas' Church Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the meeting will start at 7.17 p.m 

Mike, who has spoken to us previously, is an accomplished local photographer and naturalist, will show us the fascinating world to be found in the Hampshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves.

Note: We respectfully ask that attendees wear masks at our indoor meetings.


Our next meeting will via Zoom over the internet on 23rd November when Andy Lester's subject will be The Islands of the Fairy Tern.