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 confirmed. A buzzard was loitering in the distance.

Woodlark

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.  


Nuthatch

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 across 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 it's nest in a low bush. A marsh tit then put in it's appearance.  We then 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, saw a single canada goose, some tadpoles and heard the song of a skylark.

Cuckoo Flower / Lady's Smock Cardamine pratensis

The nurdy bit
The first plantation act of 1698 took over 2000 acres and then 200 a year for 20 years totalling 6000.
The fences to be removed after 20 years and new plantations allowed to take their place, effectively giving an additional 6000, confirmed in the1808 act.
Sort of creeping expansion


©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 008/21






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.

CR

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.


©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 008/21

 GPX

Cherry Plum or Blackthorn?

Cherry Plum and Blackthorn are both flowering at the moment, but the white bushes/shrubs we see around us are often dismissed as being merely Blackthorn.



Cherry Plum is the first to flower and the leaves appear at the beginning of flowering or soon after.  Its flowers are slightly larger than those of Blackthorn and the stamens are shorter than the petals. It does not have spines.




Blackthorn starts flowering 2-3 weeks later and its twigs are more densely packed with its smaller white flowers.  The stamens are longer than the petals giving a flowering spray a slightly fuzzy appearance.  The branches also have spines, hence the name.

RC