Next week's talk: 22February 2022 The Great British Beaver - It's Rise, Fall and Return by Pete Cooper

 Our talk on Tuesday 22 February will be via Zoom.

 Speaker: Pete Cooper

Title:  The Great British Beaver - It's Rise, Fall and Return


Sign in to Zoom with the link emailed to members. A slide presentation by a member will begin at 7.00 p.m. followed by Pete's talk commencing at 7.15p.m


Pete, a conservationist, charts the history of the Beaver in the UK, their recent resurgence and importance as a keystone wetland species.

 The talk will last for approximately 60 minutes, followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

 Please download Zoom if you have not already done so

Also, please ensure you have updated your zoom account as it must 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.

 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 to ask a question

We look forward to seeing you there and hope, again, that you enjoy the talk.

Walk report: 17 February 2022 Hawkhill with Robert and Glynis Payne

Setting off on a glorious sunny but cold morning we felt lucky to find ourselves in the relative calm between the storms Dudley and Eunice. The prospect of Crossbill and Sika unfortunately didn’t materialise but we ambled happily through the trees and had a number of sightings.

Recent heavy rain caused us to stick to the main paths with water filled ditches running alongside filled with Bog Pondweed. One clump of Common Frog spawn was also seen.

Bog Pondweed © Glynis Payne

Very early on, a lucky few saw a couple of Lesser Redpoll and then, further on, many of us saw several Coal, Blue and Great Tits; Robins at every turn, a Red Admiral and then a large number of Redwing moving through the trees.

Redwing © Richard Smith

Just for a moment we thought we had found our Crossbills on a high clump of pine cones but it turned out to be another Coal Tit digging out the seeds. Still, a lovely sight.


A Goshawk was glimpsed by David and more sunshine greeted us for our welcome coffee break among some very old oaks. One huge old pollarded oak attracted attention and needed five people to hug it! A calculation later estimated it to be around 300 years old.


Tree huggers © Andy Skarstein

We found some interesting lichen such as a Beard Lichen Usnea sp, Puffball fungi, Common Polypody in profusion on one ancient oak arm and newly emerging Foxglove before making our way back.

Common Polypody © Chris Robinson

Stump Puffball © Sue Skarstein

The final reward came to Chris and Diane as they sighted a Merlin on departing the car park.R&GP

Our route © Ordinance Survey

Invasive Non-native Species

This week we had an excellent talk from Jo Gore from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's New Forest Non-Native Plants Project. Of course it was about Invasive Non-native Plants and during the evening we learned that it was a much bigger problem than just Himalayan Balsam!

Himalayan Balsam (above) and Giant Hogweed (below)
Richard Coomber

Interesting links are:

and there's lots of more interesting stuff if you Google:

Invasive Non-native Species

So if you would like to help Jo and her colleagues out during the coming summer, pulling Himalayan Balsam etc, Jo would be pleased to hear from you. Look no further than:

Next week's talk: 08 February 2022 Non-native plants with Jo Gore via Zoom

In a change from our published programme our talk on Tuesday 8 February will be via Zoom and not in the Hall.

Speaker: Jo Gore

Title:  Non-native Plants

Sign in to Zoom with the link emailed to members. A slide presentation by a member will begin at 7.00 p.m. followed by Jo's talk commencing at 7.15p.m

Jo will explore the extent of the problem posed by non-native plants in our local area and the never-ending work undertaken by volunteers to keep it under control.

Walk report: 03 February 2022 Acres Down with Richard Smith

 We gathered in Acre’s Down car park on a mild, overcast day to walk across the down and over to Wick Wood and back. A short climb up the farm track brings us out onto the edge of Acre’s Down where we pause to enjoy the view across the valley and scan the horizon for any raptor activity. No Goshawk today but a distant Buzzard circled above the tree line. 

Woodlarks were heard and one was spotted singing in flight, the short tail and almost bat like appearance as it flew identifying it, together with the descending notes of its song. It perched obligingly for some time, allowing further good views. Walking across the down we heard several more Woodlarks calling amongst the heather and bracken. A Meadow Pipit was also seen in flight and Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard drumming.

Woodlark © Chris Robinson

Descending from the Down, we noted Butchers Broom growing amongst the Holly that line this path, before turning into a small clearing of large Beech trees where Great Tit and a Treecreeper were seen. 

© Chris Robinson

We paused to look and ponder the cause for a single beech tree that has extensive callus formation in the crown, with several woody remnants littering the ground beside it. Thanks to the combined wisdom of the group, a bacterial pathogen seems to be the most likely explanationthough curiously, no other surrounding trees appear to be infected.

Beech tree callus 
© Richard Smith

There were a few fungi species found including Holly Speckle as well as lichens such as Dog Lichen identified by Sue.

Holly Speckle - 
© Sue Skarstein

Apothecia of Dog Lichen © Sue Skarstein (above)
© Claire Kidger (below)

Branching right we cross The Knowles on a muddy ride, passing a Beech tree marked with the small circular NTSP tag 2, identifying it as a candidate for seed collection for the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst3. Crossing over a footbridge at Bagshot Water brings us back onto the path running north through Wick Wood where we stopped for coffee. There has been quite extensive recent felling here, mostly of softwood and some birch. Feeding amongst the leaf litter and beech mast, we saw good numbers of Chaffinch as well as Marsh Tit and Coal Tit and a Redpoll was also spotted amongst a group of finches. 

Tree tag 
© Richard Smith

A little further along the track, we re-cross Bagshot Gutter, and here a Grey Wagtail flew up and perched obligingly for a short time. The surrounding woodland had several of what again sounded like Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the trees but not showing themselves. No sounds of the softer and more prolonged drum of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, though this is an area where they can be seen and heard in early Spring.

Grey Wagtail 
© Richard Smith

Rejoining the gravel cycle track, we returned after a short walk, back to the car park.

Acres Down route 
© Ordinance Survey





Walk report: 31 January 2022 Keyhaven bird walk with Chris Robinson

On a bitterly cold morning we set off from the Keyhaven carpark to walk round the sea wall and back down the Ancient Highway.

We saw several raptors, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Peregrine and Kestrel.

Male Kestrel hovering © Chris Robinson 

It was a high tide, pushing waders up onto the lagoons. On Keyhaven Lagoon the highlight was two Spoonbills refusing to show their bills.

Spoonbills, Keyhaven Lagoon © Chris Robinson

There was a surprising number of Reed Buntings around, probably up to 20, feeding on the path and in the hedges either side. We regularly walk this route and these were the first Reed Buntings we have seen for months, several had rings on but you can’t read them on the photos that I took.

Reed Bunting - male moulting into breeding plumage © Chris Robinson

By the time we got to Fishtail we were very cold with the north wind blowing into our faces causing our eyes to water and making IDs quite difficult. There were quite a number of Snipe around, mostly out in the open feeding amongst the Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits. All the winter ducks were present and a high count of Brent Geese.

Common Snipe feeding at Fishtail Lagoon © Chris Robinson

A couple of people heard and saw a Dartford Warbler and RS (with his scope) spotted Red-breasted Mergansers offshore.

The walk back to the cars was brisk (did I say it was cold?), but the bird count was high which cheered us up no end! CR