Field Meeting: Pondhead Inclosure - 24 June

Our next members' field meeting will take place on Thursday 24 June, with a focus on butterflies.  We will meet at 10am at the Clayhill gate entrance to Beechen Lane (SU303071). Parking is limited but possible by the gate and in the approach road to the track.

Some rides have long grass so you may wish to take precautions to avoid ticks.

It will, of course, also be an opportunity to view some of the improvements we learned about during our October 2020 talk by a representative from the Pondhead Conservation Trust.

Several maps of Pondhead Inclosure can be viewed or downloaded here:

Wool-carder Bee (Anthidium manicatum)

I was lucky enough to see these bees in our garden a couple of days ago and was intrigued as to what they were.

The Wool-carder is a bee of the southern part of Britain, which nests in aerial cavities that other insects have created.  The name comes from the female’s method of collecting nesting materials.  She ‘cards’ fibres from plant stems (reminiscent of carding wool to separate the fibres).

These solitary bees have a single generation and may be seen flying from June to August.  The sexes are similar, though the males are larger and fiercely protect their territory.  They are easy to identify by the yellow markings along their abdomen and on their legs and faces.  They don’t have a sting as such but the male has sharp spines on its rear-end where the sting would be.

They are great pollinators favouring a number of plants with tubular flowers (such as the Mint family) or those with restricted access (such as the vetches and toadflaxes).


All photos © Chris Robinson

Snakes in the Heather Celebration Event - 22 June

In March 2019, Lymington Naturalists welcomed a speaker from the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust who told us about their ‘Snakes in the Heather’ project. This was followed by a very successful Field Meeting to view the project in action. 

ARC are now running a Snakes in the Heather celebration event which will taking place at 6pm on Tuesday 22nd June via Zoom and they are extending an invitation to register as follows:

"We would be delighted if you would join us to hear all about Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s flagship project, Snakes in the Heather, which is to conserve the UK's rarest reptile – the smooth snake, and the internationally important heathland habitat on which it depends. We will showcase the progress of the project to date, celebrate the work of our amazing volunteers, share some of our plans for the future and provide an opportunity for you to ask questions.
This is a free event run by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust via Zoom – view the event agenda and register for your place below. You will  receive a joining link a week before the event."

More information and registration 

Walk Report: Keyhaven Marshes - 10 June

On an overcast morning 16 Lymnats’ members assembled at the Keyhaven end of the Keyhaven/Lymington nature reserve. The partial solar eclipse was intermittently visible, but you could feel the sea mist in the air.

There were a few small birds flitting about, mostly Linnets but also Meadow pipits and Skylarks. There was no sign of the usual Peregrines, which was not a good omen! There were very few birds on Keyhaven Lagoon, but things looked up when we got to Fishtail.


A pair of Avocets were displaying (and mating) at one end on the lagoon, with more on the island where they have been nesting. Three chicks were being watched by their parents and another adult was sitting on eggs.

Other waders present were Dunlin, Black-tailed godwits, Oystercatchers, Lapwings and a Little ringed plover. There were also more Linnets (still collecting nesting materials) and a pair of Stonechats.

Reed Warbler

We could hear Reed warblers all along the path but saw only one.


Between Butts and the Jetty (sewage outlet!) there were several Gadwall, a Raven being pursued by a Carrion crow and Eider duck on the sea (one male in moult quite close in).  Three species of Tern did a fly past (Common, Little and Sandwich).

Bee Orchid

We turned down the path towards Lower Pennington Lane and saw Whitethroat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and heard a Cetti’s warbler. Of botanical interest were Bee orchids, Cut-leaved cranesbill and Sand spurrey (none of which I had ever noticed before!).

Greylag Goose

On Efford lake there were many Great Black-backed and Herring gulls, two Egyptian geese, one Swallow and one Swift. A Marsh harrier flew over.

We eventually saw about 50 species, and finally heard a Cuckoo when we got back to the car park.   CR

Species List: Raven, Carrion crow, Magpie, Marsh harrier, Kestrel, Eider, Shellduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveller, Dunlin, Black-tailed godwit, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Little ringed plover, Avocet, Canada goose, Egyptian goose, Grey-lag goose, Reed warbler, Cetti’s warbler, Reed bunting, Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Great crested grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Swallow, Swift, Wood pigeon, Great black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Herring gull, Black-headed gull, Common tern, Sandwich tern, Little tern, Little egret, Mute swan, Robin, Blackbird, Song thrush, Starling, Skylark, Meadow pipit, Stonechat, Cuckoo.

Any I have missed is down to my failing faculties!

All photos: © C Robinson

Field Meeting: Keyhaven Marshes - 10 June

Our next field meeting will take place on Thursday 10 June, with a focus on birds.  We will meet at 10am at Keyhaven Harbour between the bridge and the entrance to the reserve.

Walk Report: Martin Down - 27 May 2021

Martin Down         © R. Smith

After an unusually cold April and some dismal weather in May it was wonderful to have a warm, sunny day with barely a light breeze for the first full Lym Nats’ walk since February 2020!

Twelve, including several new faces, plus a leader met up at Martin Down for a general interest walk, although inevitably at this time of year the emphasis was going to be on butterflies and flowers.  In spite of the late Spring, we were not disappointed. Even the Skylarks were rejoicing on such a beautiful day, for their songs from above were in the background throughout our walk.

Martin Down is a National Nature Reserve that has on its western side the Bokerley Ditch, a long meandering Iron Age earthwork that nowadays marks the Hampshire/Dorset border.  It was along the eastern bank we walked initially, passing scrub where patches of Germander Speedwell matched the blue of the sky and Thyme-leaved Sandwort grew on the ant-hills that dotted the landscape in that part of the down.  Salad Burnet and Cowslips grew everywhere, although the latter were now past their best.  Dropwort, the downland Meadow Sweet, was still quite short and in bud so perhaps easily overlooked for it bore a passing resemblance to Salad Burnet at this stage.

Small Copper     © R Coomber  
Marsh Fritillary      © R Coomber

Our first butterflies were Brimstone, Orange-tip, Marsh Fritillary, Brown Argus, Dingy Skipper and Small Copper. We encountered the blue form of female Common Blue before leaving the ditch area to walk across to the flat ‘fields’ of the World War II rifle butts area, where we enjoyed marvellous views of a Green Hairstreak resting on the new growth of Dogwood.  Nearby another Marsh Fritillary also provided perfect opportunities for the photographers in the party. 

Female Common Blue        © R Smith
Green Hairstreak      © R Coomber

Patches of Chalk Milkwort grew, with some being pink or white plants in addition to the more usual blue.  Here and there the first flowers of the yellow Common Rock-rose reflected the morning’s sunshine, or perhaps the male Yellowhammers we were seeing during the walk.  It will be a while before Marjoram flowers, but one could smell the herb wherever leaves had been crushed along the path.

Corn Bunting       © C Robinson

One of the hoped-for birds was Corn Bunting and we were not disappointed, although we might have wished for better views. This is one of a number for farmland species, that along with the migratory Turtle Dove, is in decline as a victim of intensive agriculture.  Martin Down supports both species, although today’s walk didn’t visit the area favoured by the doves.

Field Fleabane    © C Robinson

 Burnt Orchard      © R Coomber 

eturning to the ditch we came across our first flowering Common Spotted Orchids and further on a couple of the area’s specialities – Field Fleawort and Burnt Orchid - both calcareous-loving plants with a limited distribution nationally.  The orchids were easy to find as someone had marked them with rings of small stones to prevent walkers inadvertently stepping on them.

Time was running away from us, so we decided to abandon the clock and continued to walk the side of the ditch before looping round to a track that led us by two tumuli, where another unusual plant grew – Pasqueflower (Pasque = paschal = Easter).  This year the flowers had still been showing well just a week ago, but unfortunately were now going over.  This is probably the most south-westerly site for Pasqueflower for its main strongholds are in the Cotswolds and the Chilterns.  Although known to favour ancient earthworks in areas where it occurs, it was only discovered here in 1983 and it is possible that it might have been introduced.

Grizzled Skipper © C Robinson

Dingy Skipper  © R Coomber

With homage paid to another rarity we headed back towards the car park, finding a number of large puffballs identified by Richard Smith as Mosaic Puffball, several flighty Grizzled Skippers and some 30+ stunted Green-winged Orchids.  The final butterfly, seen by Brian and others, was a Speckled Wood amongst the bushes lining the path near the car park.

Mosaic Puffball      © R Smith

As we all had brought picnics we migrated to a sunny slope for lunch, before heading for home or returning to the field.  It was a great start to our season of scheduled walks and thanks everyone for coming.     RC

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Restarting Summer Field Meetings

Legal restrictions on outside gatherings of up to 30 people have been eased.  The Lymnats’ field meeting programme will now resume on Thursday 27th May.  Please refer to the programme which you can also view and download using the link found on the Field Meetings section of our website.

We will respect social distancing and members should avoid the sharing of food or equipment during our walks.  Detailed guidance on precautions can be found here:

Advice on car sharing can be found here : Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers - GOV.UK (

Persons displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend field meetings.

Walk Report : Beachern Wood - 13 May 2021


After a short walk along the edge of Ober Heath, we picked up the gravel path leading into the wooded strip lining Ober Water where we watched two Robins possibly preparing for the annual spring rites.

We then crossed the Water and passed through the narrow wood out onto the vastness of Fletchers Green where the fresh green leaves, lit by the sun, on the distant trees stood out against a band of black cloud.
A Song Thrush and Skylark provided a backdrop to the rattle of Stonechats two of which conveniently posed on nearby Hawthorns.  

Petty Whin

Then Richard spotted on the grass track some yellow Petty Whin, found mainly in Scotland, Wales and surprise, the New Forest.  
Once spotted, it suddenly appeared seemingly everywhere along the way. 
Further on, a Woodlark happily perched on some nearby heather.

On entering Fletchers Thorn, we found an area of hawthorn,thorny scrub,some very dense, a few scattered birch and oak and a small stream, a sort of Wilding area before Wilding had been invented.

There we saw a Little Egret, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Longtail Tit, heard the calls of a Blackbird,Chaffinch, Wren, a distant cuckoo and a far off Raven.  Frustratingly we were not au fait with the other calls we could hear.
At the base of a piece of scrub we spotted some Dog Violet.

Red Poplar Leaf Beetle
Leaving the scrub and walking along the middle of Poundhill Heath, we passed a ladder up to a platform in an isolated Pine (possibly for spotting deer?), Richard spotted a large ladybird like beetle with no spots that he subsequently identified as a Red Poplar Leaf Beetle.
By a stand of decaying birch trees, we disturbed a pair of birds in the nearby heather.  Despite them both perching for a brief period before dropping down again, there was nothing distinctive that we were able to see to enable instant recognition.  We are not at all convinced, but like to think that they may have been Meadow Pipits.  Another uncertainty was that we may have also seen a pair of Ravens in the distance or were they Crows.
However, after joining up with the wooded Highland Water, we were pleased to positively see a Mistle Thrush and a Wren down by the water.

Crossing Bolderford Bridge, we went to look at two mysterious solidly built brick structures nearby on the left, one with a very solid elongated iron dome inside.
Richard recalled reading about something like this in the past and poked a round.  It turns out that the structures are the remains of an 1855 hydraulic ram that pumped water for New park Farm. 
Hydraulic Ram Pump

From what I later could work out, it is a type of pump that has just two moving parts and powered itself.  
Water was fed from the river which alternately operated one of two valves, the dome being the required pressure vessel.  The pressure vessel did the pumping,  Clever Victorians.
So, intrigued at the time, we returned to the car park, deviating to see if Ober Water was shallow enough to ford, it wasn't, but we did see a large yellow triple mushroom shaped fungus on a birch, as yet unidentified.  The plan B route back was via the campsite entrance and along Ober Water and retracing our steps.


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Walk Report: Woodside/Normandy - 29 April 2021

Brian was joined by Chris and Diane for a walk that lasted all of three hours. There was a light northerly breeze taking the edge off the temperature on an otherwise bright, sunny morning that became increasingly overcast as we set off from the car park in Ridgeway Lane. The route taken was a rough figure-of-eight, starting in the formality of Woodside Gardens, into Woodside Park, onto Normandy Marsh via Woodside Lane and Maiden Lane, then Normandy Lane via The Pinckney Path, Maiden Lane, Poles Lane and back into Woodside Park and our starting point.

In Woodside Gardens we noticed that two "Monkey Puzzle" trees have been planted to replace the one that had to be felled last year.  

Green-winged orchids

We re-visited the Green-winged Orchids in Woodside Lane that were now putting on a spectacular show with c100 flower spikes. 

In Maiden Lane Diane glimpsed the only butterfly that we saw all morning - a Speckled Wood - but various bumblebees and other flying insects were active.

The water level in Normandy Lagoon was very low but there was plenty of activity amongst the Avocets, Little Terns and Common Terns which will all, hopefully, breed successfully this year. An Oystercatcher may also have been on eggs and the Redshanks were actively "courting".  

Bar-tailed Godwit

There were two Bar-tailed Godwits (still in pale winter plumage) in company with a Black-tailed Godwit (in full summer plumage) for comparison. 

Also in their summer plumage were Dunlin and a solitary Grey Plover. The arrival of a Raven caused much agitation amongst the Lapwings.



Probably the highlight of the morning came when two male and one female Eider appeared close offshore in the vicinity of Aden Bank with much diving and posturing. 

Spotted Redshank

We were joined there by a group led by Graham Giddens and Chris was able to alert them to the Spotted Redshank that was transitioning into its breeding plumage which we had just been watching in the nearby channel.


Reed Warbler

Near the yacht haven we could hear Reed Warblers and had an excellent view of a singing Whitethroat. 



Returning along Normandy Lane we saw four Roe Deer,  a male Bullfinch and a Green Woodpecker and then saw a male and female Blackcap and Chiffchaff in Maiden Lane..  

Birds weren't the only things of interest: Bulbous Buttercup, Red Campion, Common Fumitory, Cuckooflower, Garlic Mustard, Spotted Medick, Red Clover, Herb Robert, Cow Parsley, Green Alkanet, Lords-and-Ladies, Bluebell, Red Dead-nettle, Groundsel and Greater Stitchwort were all seen. 

Oak Gall

One oak sapling was plagued with at least two galls  courtesy of the larvae of gall wasps.

There were birds, flowers and foliage aplenty and the weather forecast for the Bank Holiday weekend is "Oak before Ash, we're in for a splash" if you want to see these sights for yourself.


Photos CR

Walk Report : Pig Bush - 16th April 2021

Pig Bush

I met up with Richard in the Pig Bush carpark from where we walked through a copse of mainly oak. Coming out, Richard caught sight of a redstart.  Shortly afterwards, he had a hunch that a bird perched on the top of a lone birch was a woodlark. It helped that it stayed perched for a long time and via a magic app, the hunch was confirmed. A buzzard was loitering in the distance.


We then crossed a stream and followed a track skirting a semi open area of birch on one side and an area of bog enclosed by wood, on the other. At the end of the bog area, we passed through a small area of oak and holly, where we heard a nuthatch and saw our first song thrush.  


We then came out onto an extensive enclosed grassy area populated with a few scattered oaks and a single scots pine from where we turned to walk down the wooded edge and then into the spacious feeling wood.  Since none of the leaves were in leaf, mainly oak, a scattering of holly and beech, the sun was able to pour in.  This made it easier to see blue tits, nuthatches, robins and chaffinches and hear the distinctive sound of a stock dove. Once again we arrived at the edge of the wood and while coming back from looking at two ancient oaks saw a song thrush go to and then sit on its nest in a low bush. A marsh tit then put in its appearance. 

We followed a short track through heathland heather in order to get to a small bridge over the train line.  This was in order to see if some rare narrow leaved vetch, found almost exclusively in the New Forest, was alive and well.  It was.

Returning back to the car park over open heathland, we saw a single canada goose, some tadpoles and heard the song of a skylark.

Cuckoo Flower / Lady's Smock Cardamine pratensis

The nerdy bit:

The first plantation act of 1698 took over 2000 acres and then 200 a year for 20 years totalling 6000 acres.  The fences were to be removed after 20 years and new plantations allowed to take their place, effectively giving an additional 6000 acres, confirmed in the 1808 act.  A sort of creeping expansion


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Bombylius Bee-flies

Many of us will be spotting Bee-flies in the garden and in the Forest at the moment. The commonest of the four native species is  Bombylus major, the Dark-edged or Large Bee-fly, with dark patches on the edge of each wing. It is worth looking closely at the wings as the less common Spotted Bee-fly,  B.discolor, is also found in the Forest. It is very slightly smaller and has spots on its wings.

These odd-looking furry flies are parasites on Andrena mining bees. They adults deposit their eggs by flicking their abdomen, to propel the eggs towards the mouth of the bee’s nest. According to research done in both Russia and Japan they are not particularly accurate! They also have another strategy where they simply lay their eggs on plants visited by the bees which stick to them and are then transferred to the nest.

They are typical flies in as much as they have two wings (bees have four, two pairs) and small, blunt antennae. They have large compound eyes and legs more reminiscent of crane flies.

Bombylius flies have a long, rigid proboscis. which is used for feeding on nectar and pollen. The females eat more pollen than the males as, probably, they need more protein for egg production. They do not pollinate the flowers, they are just ‘nectar thieves.’  It is said that they prefer blue flowers!

Bombylius flies only superficially resemble bees, unlike some of the Hover flies, so are they mimics or just hairy? It has been proposed that they get a measure of protection from predators by being bee-ish, but also that it allows them to approach the host’s nest without being attacked.


Walk Report - Great Newbridge Copse 1st April 2021

We met up with Richard Smith on the entrance to the footpath on the Milford Road . With the cooler morning there were few birds about on the track up to the Copse . However during the walk through the woods we could hear pheasant. It was a couple of weeks too early for the usual display of bluebells there, but just a couple of early flowers were showing. 

Going through the Copse there were few birds to be seen, apart from crows and great tits. We noticed the rust coloured stream , so coloured as there is iron dissolved , and oxygen in the stream, enabling bacteria, such as Thiobacillus feroxydans to produce this effect.

King Alfred's cake (Daldrina concentrica)

We heard a buzzard, and spotted a possible bullfinch at a distance. However when we emerged onto Agarton Lane there were several birds to be seen - long tailed tits, chiffchaff, wren, robin, blue tit, chaffinch, goldfinch and dunnock . We also saw roe deer in the field alongside and several bee hives on the edge of the field.

Roe Buck

Crossing the maize fields on the way back we saw two buzzards, and Richard could make out peregrines in the distance. We heard spotted woodpeckers and saw starling on the telephone wires. Richard also spotted a bee fly, which was very docile.

Dark Edged Bee Fly (Bombylius major)

Plants seen - winter heliotrope , arrowhead, celandine, Marsh marigolds, water iris , periwinkle , dandelions, daisies , dead nettles, campion , primroses.

Returning to the end we did notice a peacock butterfly.  A really enjoyable morning.

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