This week's walk: 28 April 2022 Anderwood with Claire Kidger

Our next field meeting is on Thursday 28 April, Claire leads this General Interest walk at Anderwood setting off from the car park at 10am. 

Grid ref:                  SU 249056

Three words:          wealth.those.peachy

Walk report: 12 April 2022 Vereley with Andy And Sue Skarstein

 We walked from Vereley car park, where a Skylark was heard, through the woods, observing two Wrens, down to Mill Lawn Brook which flows onto Ober Water and then the Lymington River.  Round-leaved Water-crowfoot grew in the ditches along the path. 

Numerous veteran and ancient trees, as listed in the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Inventory, many coppiced and pollarded are in Vereley & Ridley Woods.   The sighting of inosculation (from the Latin "to kiss"), where an Oak and a Beech had fused together, generated some discussion.  Alongside was a veteran pollarded Oak looking like many pencils standing in tight formation; it must be quite old, because in 1698 Parliament banned pollarding oaks in the New Forest to prevent a shortage of long timbers for the navy.

Between the two Woods there were a few of the increasingly scarce Petty Whin coming into flower; Bog Myrtle and one solitary Dog Violet were also spotted.  A Common Buzzard could be seen spiralling upwards.

Skirting Ridley Woods we spotted a veteran Holly, whose girth was 2.4m, quite decayed, but alive and coming into flower.

Our tea and chocolate biscuit stop was by fallen trees. Here we saw an unoccupied bee’s nest in a hollowed out log, Wood Sorrel was flowering next to it and Southern Brackets were on a dead tree beside it.  In the distance a Stock Dove called.

Honey comb © Sue Skarstein

Ridley Woods produced several birds, Robin, Great & Blue Tits, Nuthatch, Blackbird and Song Thrush.  Also here the morning’s only butterfly was seen, a Brimstone.

Grey Disco fungus © Sue Skarstein

Dead trees supported a wide variety of fungi, including Common Grey Disco, Beech Woodwart, Split Gill and Turkeytail.  Also spotted was a False Puffball also known as Cauliflower Slime Mould.

Pollarded Beech © Sue Skarstein

There were many old trees, one an ancient pollarded Beech, with a 6.43m girth, had sadly suffered severely in recent storms.  Concomitantly there were Beech trees at the start of their life being just a shoot and pair of cotyledons, this led to 5 minutes of fun when we built a stockade around one! 

Beech cotyledon © Sue Skarstein

We then followed the hollow way where smugglers sold their goods and near to medieval earthworks that mark the ‘old hedge’ of Ridley Copse.  From there we went out onto the open heath, in the wet boggy ditches an abundance of bog pondweed grew and here one of our group took an unplanned dip in the bog, fortunately she came out unscathed. 

Crossing the brook again at Ridley Bottom, Pond Skaters were seen on the pond.   A Willow Warbler sang in the trees and stayed long enough to be spotted.  Bog Myrtle grew beside the wet areas and tadpoles swum in a flooded area.  More water-crowfoot showed, generating some discussion about whether or not some could be the rare hybrid New Forest Water-crowfoot Ranunculus x novae-forestae which is known to be in this area, we may never know. 

probable New Forest Water-crowfoot Ranunculus x novae-forestae © Sue Skarstein

Walking back to the cars Creeping Willow and more Petty Whin was seen, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming and three people heard a Woodlark sing.

Vereley - our route

This week's walk: 14 April 2022 Vereley with Andy and Sue Skarstein

Our next field meeting is on Thursday 14 April, when Andy and Sue Skarstein lead a General Interest walk at Vereley setting off from the car park at 10am. 

Grid ref:                  SU 196051

Three words:          shackles.heaven.ambition

Walk report: 31 March 2022 Puttles Bridge with Julia Race and Andrea Janssens

We started from Puttles Bridge car park on a bright but cold, windy morning and took the track heading NE near the entrance, walking with a fenced off area on our right. A Mistle Thrush and a Goldcrest were spotted in the fenced off area, and a Nuthatch was heard. Honeysuckle was coming into leaf; we saw lichen on low branches, including Netted shield lichen Parmelia sulcata and Dotted Bush Lichen Ramalina farinacea, and an impressive Bank Haircap Moss Polytrichum formosum.

Parmelia sulcata © Glynis Payne

We turned left onto a track, past Silver Birch logs with bracket fungi and a white slime mould; a Treecreeper, Robin and Wren were seen.

We crossed the road, bearing slightly left onto a track at the edge of Clumber Enclosure. For many of us the highlight of the walk was watching a Firecrest at close quarters hopping around in brambles, the Firecrest continued to feed happily giving everyone a prolonged viewing. A mouse popped its head out of a hole, and we saw Song Thrush, Coal Tit, Stonechat and a Buzzard. On the bank edging the wood we saw groups of Hard Fern, and a Red (also known as Southern) Wood Ants’ nest.

Firecrest © Andy Skarstein

Turning left we crossed the foot bridge over the Ober Water within a wooded copse, where minnows and pond skaters were seen. Numerous Bog Myrtle catkins were seen, and a bright orange Bog Beacon fungus.

We walked uphill towards Holm Hill and encountered a multi-stemmed Holly inter-grown with a Hawthorn and Dog Rose. Greenfinches and a Dartford Warbler were seen, and Creeping Willow catkins were beside the path.

Forking left we entered a wooded area, seeing Early Dog-violets and Birch Polypore bracket fungi. Many Holly bushes were tightly grazed and looked like topiary! A Holly trunk was heavily scratched by ponies, and Chaffinch, Dunnock and Jay were seen. Some logs on the exit of the copse were the best available coffee stop, although it was getting quite windy by this time so we didn’t stop for long.

Leaving the copse we turned left onto the main track through a wet area around Silver Stream with Bog Myrtle and willow catkins, braving a brief spell of hail! Heading uphill, at the edge of the track several areas of low growing Dwarf Gorse were found.

Bog Myrtle © Julia Race

Bearing left, heading north through open heath we saw Stonechat and a Skylark in flight. Close to the road we diverted left into a patch of conifers to dryer ground and were rewarded by seeing a Sparrowhawk.

After crossing the road we turned left across a foot bridge over Ober Water. In a pool we saw Round-leaved Water-crowfoot with white flowers. Approaching the car park we saw Blue Tit, Great Tit and a low flying Mallard duck and heard a Wren. JR/AJ

Round-leaved Water-crowfoot © Glynis Payne

Our route:

© Crown copyright 2022 Ordnance Survey. Media 005/22. The licence is valid until 31December 2022

Walk report: Turf Hill 17 March 2022

At last, a decent, shining morning for our visit to the northwest of the Forest where the landscape has undergone change for several decades. During WW2 an experimental armaments station was based here on the heathland and, in the late 1960s, large areas of conifer were planted, including Scots, Corsican and Monterey Pine, and Douglas Fir.  The heath was deeply furrowed to aid planting, making the ground difficult for walking and riding, and for the Forest animals. The severe storm in 1990 demolished many trees and eventually restoration of heath and mire was decided upon. Still ongoing, clearance of many non-native conifers and levelling of ridges and furrows has created a bleak, barren-looking landscape that is gradually re-establishing as heath and mire. Some stands of conifer and mixed species remain with heather and gorse grassland.

This morning we were already on Plan C, having had to modify routes twice due to mud, fallen trees and debris after recent storm-force winds and torrential rain. Chaffinch and Greenfinch were seen in the trees around the carpark and a distant Common Buzzard was spotted. We set off westwards, passing small ponds and crossing open grassy areas bounded by gorse bushes, scanning for Dartford Warblers. Reaching the most southerly of the 3 main SW-NE paths, we headed southwest for a while then took a westerly path across the flinty, cleared area, skirting lying water and muddy patches before dropping steeply into the valley and onwards into the mixed woodland of Millersford Copse. Three who had lingered at the back saw the first Dartford Warblers of the trip bobbing in the gorse.

Dartford Warbler © Richard Smith   

Where our path reached a stream crossing we turned steeply uphill to join the middle path southwest-wards, almost leaving the trees before we retraced our steps along the edge of the Copse and onwards back to the cars. As we passed a particular Douglas Fir, outstanding with its elegant shape and pale, long cones it was time to re-tell Angela’s charming tale of tiny mice escaping a forest fire by seeking shelter between the fir cone scales and thus forming the distinctive bracts with their back legs and tails.

Woodlark © Chris Robinson  

The Dartford Warblers were still dodging about in the gorse bushes and more were seen, as well as Stonechats, as we passed the reclaimed valley mire. Our bird list for the morning, seen, heard or both, included Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Common Buzzard, Dartford Warbler, Dunnock, Green Finch, Goldfinch, Kestrel, Meadow Pipit, Raven, Reed Warbler, Robin, Song Thrush, Stonechat, Wren, Woodlark and Woodpigeon. MW/SP

© Crown copyright 2022 Ordnance Survey. Media 005/22. The licence is valid until 31December 2022