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.

Walk report: 01 November 2021 Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes with Chris Robinson

The weather was bright, but the wind was blustery and strong. The tide was high, and the recent rains meant that many of the lagoons were very full. This  combi- nation meant that small birds were scarce and most waders had moved to more suitable parts (Normandy?).

From the meeting point we could see a pair of Marsh Harriers over the Avon Water reed beds. There were few birds on the harbour, a couple of Cormorants on the boats and the odd gull.

Marsh Harriers at Keyhaven © Chris Robinson

Along the sea wall we saw, (and heard), a Curlew but as there was no mud there were very few waders on the Solent side. On Keyhaven lagoon there were Shelducks, a pair of Wigeon, some Lapwings standing in the shallows and a Grey Heron! As we walked along a Kestrel showed nicely and some people saw a Merlin flying over the saltmarsh.

Canada Geese with hybrid on Fishtail Lagoon © Richard Smith

Fishtail Lagoon was covered with Canada Geese, one Greylag, several Brents and a good selection of winter ducks (Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and Pintail). Small groups of Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits were standing around.

 Butts Lagoon was almost empty of birds, as were the next couple of lagoons and the Shoveler Pools, save for Canada geese, a few ducks and some Little Egrets. A Buzzard flew over.

Golden Plover in flight © Chris Robinson

Ruff © Richard Smith

As we walked down to the Ancient Highway a flock of Golden Plover flew over, probably disturbed by the Chinook helicopter flying down the coast. As we turned the corner the usual gulls were on Efford Lake with a group of Oystercatchers on the bank. On the other side of the road there was a solitary female Ruff giving us good views. A Red Admiral and both male and female Common Darter dragonflies were seen. As we got back to the cars the Merlin reappeared, being seen off by two Carrion Crows. CR

Common Darter - male © Chris Robinson