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.