Field Meeting Report: Matley Wood

Rowan  (Sorbus aucuparia)      GP

On a grey, still morning, twenty-seven members gathered in Matley car park to explore the wood and surrounding area. We paused briefly in the campsite where a few bird feeders hung in the trees before branching north into the Ancient and Ornamental Woodland of Matley Wood.  This term refers to areas of the forest containing a mixture of native trees and bushes, largely natural and unchanged, that are not subject to statutory inclosure. (1).  We passed Oak, Holly, Small-leafed Lime, Yew, Sweet Chestnut, Crab Apple and Rowan.   Signs of Autumn appeared as we noted the Holly, Crab and Rowan were all filled with fruit, the Rowan already being plundered by Blackbirds. 

Emerging from the wood we followed a sand and gravel track over the heath towards a footbridge on the Beaulieu River. A series of parallel ridges in the heath suggest possible earlier ploughing activity - several areas of the forest were ploughed for food production during the Second World War.  We found several large fragments of metal shrapnel amongst the furrows, evidence of extensive wartime training activities in this area during both world wars (1). 

Dwarf Gorse  (Ulex minor)      DP
Marsh Clubmoss (Lycopodiaella inundata) CR

Amongst the different species of heather that were in full flower, we noted Dwarf Gorse, Devilsbit Scabious, Harebell, Marsh Clubmoss, and Sundew; the latter two giving a clue as to how wet this area can be.  

Small White      RS
Grayling Camouflage      CR

Amongst the heather, Small White and Grayling butterflies were observed, the latter being well camouflaged and reluctant to fly.  

Fox Moth Caterpillar     MF

A Fox Moth caterpillar was found on the heath.  There were also patches of a tiny red-capped lichen, Cladonia floerkeana.  

    Coral Necklace     MF      

Coral Necklace Illecebrum verticilatum was growing in a small dried out, dusty depression beside the track, soon to be waterlogged again.

Approaching the tree line beside the Beaulieu River, we paused to watch Spotted Flycatchers darting out from the trees to capture insects. We moved along the bank of the river, visiting areas that have been heavily poached by cattle.  On the river bank, Water Forgetmenot, Water Mint, Water-pepper and Lesser Water-plantain were all seen and a Raven flew overhead. 

Green Woodpecker dropping    RS

Marge pointed out a cylindrical white Green Woodpecker dropping and later examination showed numerous ant exoskeletons within. 

Nodding Bur-marigold (Bidens cernua)    DP

 Chamomile was growing in small clumps   close by the second river bridge as well as a   good stand of Nodding Bur-marigold.  This   boggy area is normally busy with dragonfly,   but was quiet on this day.

Spotted Flycatcher      RS

Stopping for a break at the hill fortification just to the South of Home Farm proved fortuitous. The Alder, and Willow trees along the river bank and the surrounding lawn were busy with numerous Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and either Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler - we could not agree on the latter! A group of Woodlark appeared, a flock of House Martin and a few Swallow circled high over the trees and a distant Buzzard was seen.

Wolf Bee Philanthus triangulum  CR


Walking back towards Matley, we enjoyed the view from the top of one of three ancient barrows (3).  The eroded sandy path back to the woods has left a bank suited to the Bee Wolf which have have excavated several tunnels with characteristic “D” shaped entrances.  A few were found on the path and in the cooler temperature were relatively docile and could be examined closely. 


Returning to the northern edge of the wood we skirted around the wooded perimeter and then back to the car park, noting some fungi and some green stained wood, evidence of Green Elf-cup, Chloriciboria aeruginascens, on the way.


Earthball  Scleroderma citrinum    CR
Slime Mould       GP

Green Elf-cup   Chloricioria aeruginascens  GP


 1/ THE NEW FOREST An Ecological History - 1968; Colin R. Tubbs

 2/ White Moor - its military history :

 3/ Two bowl barrows and a bell barrow on Matley Heath:

 An interesting drone survey of the area along with more information can be viewed here: 

Photographs: ©  M. Fidkin, G Payne, D Potter, C Robinson, R. Smith


©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 008/21