TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

New Forest

July 9 - 12 2001

Based at The Forest Park Hotel, Rhinefield Road, Brockenhurst


Leader:
Bob Ford

Weather

Strong westerlies with frequent heavy showers. Occasional warm sunny periods.

 

The weather forecasts for this week indicated less than ideal conditions: gale force westerly winds with heavy rain, with flooding likely in parts of the south and west. For once the Met. Office proved to be accurate in all but the floods. However, our group of intrepid naturalists seemed to lead a charmed existence as time after time the first spots of rain appeared just as we got into the bus and fizzled out just as we reached our destination. Someone was definitely looking after us this week!

 

Monday July 9th

The first evening was probably our least productive session as we spent a hour at Yew Tree Bottom in miserable drizzle not seeing any Nightjars. As always we did find something though; in this case a beautiful little Summer Chafer that allowed itself to be caught (and filmed!) for close examination.

 

Tuesday July 10th

The first full day in the forest started with a trip to Acre's Down in the hope of finding Honey Buzzard. This was a rather optimistic quest considering the appalling weather conditions and in fact we saw very few birds at all, and not a single bird of prey. We did see plenty of other wildlife though including a very charming group of Fallow Deer feeding in a clearing not far from us. Smaller animals included the attractive Wolf Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) and what must have been the largest Harvestman I have ever seen. Sheltering from the rain in a Holly clump gave us time to explore the botanical attractions of the area including a brilliant orange patch of the strange jelly-like Tremella fungus. Numerous species of flowering plants were listed here including the parasitic Dodder and the very tasty Water Pepper!

 

Walking on into Wick Wood we found birds rather more easy to see. An unusually bold Jay at the top of a dead Beech tree was joined by a rather vocal Spotted Flycatcher. Bullfinches were also being very noisy in the area but did not allow themselves to be seen.

 

After lunch back at the hotel we moved down to the coast and the ever-reliable wetlands of Pennington. Shorebirds here included 8 species of wader and 3 terns, as well as a record number of Little Egrets (at least 10). Probably the least expected bird was an eclipse male Pintail, being about 2 months early! The sight here of an adult Little Tern feeding its recently-fledged chick was one of many that will stay with me as a highlight of the week.

 

The evening trip was to Burley to watch Badgers in the comfort of a glass-fronted hide. The family has recently diminished to only a pair of Badgers but they are now accompanied by 1 or 2 Foxes. As usual we were treated to amazingly close views of these fascinating animals.

 

On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at Yew Tree Bottom again and, once again, failed to see any Nightjars. There were an unprecedented number of Glow-worms out though, which helped to make up for the ornithological disappointments.

 

Wednesday July 11th

By 0930 we were walking across a sunlit heath towards Denny Wood. In spite of the strong wind several Dartford Warblers were seen trying to keep upright on the swaying tops of Gorse. As we neared the forest we found the first of many Redstarts seen that day, several of which were outstandingly bright males. Nuthatch, Tree Creeper and Green Woodpecker were also seen around the trees and Wood Lark was added to the list as we walked out onto the heath again. Other notable sights included a Hornet's nest unusually at the base of an Oak instead of high in the crown. The Wood Ants here were not unexpected but this was the first time we have seen winged males.

 

After lunch we explored a new area in the south-east corner of the forest towards Beaulieu River. On the way a flock of Red-legged Partridges were seen from the bus, as were a number of Pheasants.

 

First stop was Sowley Pond where we found a Great-crested Grebe on its floating nest. A number of new plants were also seen here including Marsh Woundwort and Creeping Jenny.

 

Needs Ore Point produced one of the best sightings of the week in the shape of a group of 4 Green Sandpipers. Whilst watching these difficult-to-find birds a movement attracted our attention to the grass near our feet - it was a young Hare, the first ever seen on these trips. Further on a Common Sandpiper was found on the tidal mud-flats and, most surprising of all, a large female Peregrine resting on the shingle beach of the point itself.

 

The final after-dinner Nightjar foray took us to Hatchet's Pond but sadly it was not third time lucky. The weather was just too cold and windy to tempt them out this year. The wet weather favoured the plants though and the Wild Chamomile by the car park here was unusually obvious.

 

Thursday July 12th

On the final day we made a return visit to the coastal marshes, this time to the Keyhaven end. One of the first birds found turned out to be a young Water Rail, on closer inspection one of 4 skulking along the edges of the reedbed. The wader flock contained one species not seen on Tuesday; a male Ruff still bearing traces of its elaborate breeding plumage. Plants included Haresfoot Clover and masses of bright purple Sea Lavender.

 

After a picnic lunch taken in the bus during a torrential downpour the 3 of us that were left decided to explore the paths opposite the hotel towards Poundhill Heath. The first of many memorable events occurred only yards from the road when a female Sparrowhawk dived into the trees in front of us to harass a Carrion Crow which was quietly walking around under the trees. The large raptor then delighted us by landing on a nearby branch and giving us the rare opportunity of a close view of this shy species. Out on the heath the next surprise was a Little Owl perched on some runner bean poles in an area of allotments. The forest around Queen's Bower produced a number of woodland species including our first Marsh Tits. Some isolated stems of Rose of Sharon on a riverbank were an unexpected sight. On a week when insects were notable by their absence it was a joy to see a group of Beautiful Demoiselles basking in the warm sunshine. The furthest point of the walk brought us to a field with a herd of Fallow Deer, shortly followed by a close view of a female Red Deer with her fawn. One of the last birds seen before the rain came in again was a fine soaring Buzzard, the only one seen well during an unseasonably windy week.

 

A final total of 86 bird species seen, with several others heard, was testimony to the sharp eyes of all members of the group. Well done everyone!

 

Bob Ford, 16/7/01

 

 


Species Lists

 

 

Birds:
Total: 86

 

Great Crested Grebe

Sowley Pond

Cormorant

Keyhaven

Little Egret

Keyhaven

Grey Heron

Keyhaven

Mute Swan

Keyhaven

Grey Lag Goose

Needs Ore Point

Shelduck

Keyhaven

Teal

Needs Ore Point

Mallard

Keyhaven

Pintail

Keyhaven

Tufted Duck

Sowley Pond

Sparrowhawk

Brockenhurst

Buzzard

Brockenhurst

Peregrine

Needs Ore Point

Kestrel

Needs Ore Point

Red-legged Partridge

Beaulieu

Pheasant

Beaulieu

Moorhen

Beaulieu

Coot

Keyhaven

Oystercatcher

Keyhaven

Ringed Plover

Keyhaven

Little Ringed Plover

Keyhaven

Lapwing

Keyhaven

Dunlin

Keyhaven

Black-tailed Godwit

Keyhaven

Curlew

Keyhaven

Whimbrel

Keyhaven

Ruff

Keyhaven

Redshank

Keyhaven

Common Sandpiper

Needs Ore Point

Green Sandpiper

Needs Ore Point

Black-headed Gull

Acres Down

Lr Bl-backed Gull

Keyhaven

Herring Gull

Acres Down

Great Black-backed Gull

Keyhaven

Sandwich Tern

Keyhaven

Common Tern

Keyhaven

Little Tern

Keyhaven

Wood Pigeon

Acres Down

Stock Dove

Acres Down

Collared Dove

Keyhaven

Little Owl

Brockenhurst

Green Woodpecker

Denny Wood

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Acres Down

Wood Lark

Denny Wood

Skylark

Keyhaven

Swift

Acres Down

Sand Martin

Keyhaven

Swallow

Acres Down

House Martin

Keyhaven

Meadow Pipit

Acres Down

Pied Wagtail

Keyhaven

Wren

Denny Wood

Robin

Acres Down

Redstart

Denny Wood

Stonechat

Acres Down

Blackbird

Acres Down

Song Thrush

Acres Down

Mistle Thrush

Denny Wood

Sedge Warbler

Keyhaven

Dartford Warbler

Beaulieu Rd Station

Whitethroat

Beaulieu

Willow Warbler

Denny Wood

Goldcrest

Acres Down

Spotted Flycatcher

Acres Down

Long-tailed Tit

Acres Down

Marsh Tit

Brockenhurst

Coal Tit

Beaulieu Rd Station

Blue Tit

Acres Down

Great Tit

Acres Down

Nuthatch

Acres Down

Treecreeper

Denny Wood

Jay

Acres Down

Magpie

Acres Down

Jackdaw

Brockenhurst

Rook

Brockenhurst

Carrion Crow

Brockenhurst

Starling

Brockenhurst

House Sparrow

Brockenhurst

Chaffinch

Acres Down

Greenfinch

Acres Down

Goldfinch

Keyhaven

Linnet

Acres Down

Siskin

Acres Down

Crossbill

Denny Wood

Reed Bunting

Keyhaven

 

 

Insects:

 

Red Admiral

Keyhaven

Marbled White

Keyhaven

Meadow Brown

Acres Down

Gatekeeper

Acres Down

Silver-studded Blue

Beaulieu Rd Station

Small Skipper

Keyhaven

Large Skipper

Keyhaven

Cinnibar

Keyhaven

6-spot Burnet

Keyhaven

Beautiful Demoiselle

Brockenhurst

Summer Chafer

Yew Tree Bottom

Hornet

Denny Wood

Pisaura mirabilis (wolf spider)

Acres Down

 

 

 

Mammals:

 

Fox

Burley

Badger

Burley

Rabbit

Acres Down

Grey Squirrel

Acres Down

Roe Deer

Acres Down

Fallow Deer

Acres Down

Red Deer

Brockenhurst

Pipistrelle (?)

Beaulieu

 

 

Plants:

 

Bracken

Acres Down

Scots Pine

Acres Down

Ash

Acres Down

Sycamore

Acres Down

Birch

Acres Down

Beech

Acres Down

Oak

Acres Down

Alder Buckthorn

Acres Down

Bog Myrtle

Denny Wood

Lesser Spearwort

Acres Down

Round-leaved Sundew

Denny Wood

Sea Beet

Needs Ore Point

Sea Purslane

Keyhaven

Marsh St John's Wort

Denny Wood

Square-stemmed St John's Wort

Brockenhurst

Rose of Sharon

Brockenhurst

Violet

Acres Down

Musk Mallow

Hatchet's Pond

Mallow

Keyhaven

Holly

Acres Down

Gorse

Acres Down

Haresfoot Clover

Keyhaven

Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil

Acres Down

Bramble

Acres Down

Tormentil

Acres Down

Wood Sorrel

Acres Down

Hawthorn

Acres Down

Hampshire Purslane

Hatchet's Pond

Ivy

Acres Down

Marsh Pennywort

Acres Down

Wood Spurge

Acres Down

Water Pepper

Acres Down

Thrift

Needs Ore Point

Sea Lavender

Keyhaven

Purple Loosestrife

Sowley Pond

Yellow Pimpernel

Acres Down

Creeping Jenny

Sowley Pond

Bog Pimpernel

Brockenhurst

Centaury

Keyhaven

Water Forget-me-not

Sowley Pond

Foxglove

Acres Down

Lousewort

Acres Down

Cross-leaved Heath

Acres Down

Ling

Acres Down

Bell Heather

Acres Down

Bilberry

Acres Down

Marsh Woundwort

Sowley Pond

Gypsywort

Sowley Pond

Water Mint

Acres Down

Buckshorn Plantain

Keyhaven

Heath Bedstraw

Acres Down

Dodder

Acres Down

Teasel

Pennington

Marsh Ragwort

Brockenhurst

Ragwort

Acres Down

Lawn Chamomile

Hatchet's Pond

Sea Mayweed

Keyhaven

Marsh Cudweed

Acres Down

Common Cats-ear

Acres Down

Bog Asphodel

Denny Wood

Butcher's Broom

Sowley Pond

Common Spotted Orchid

Burley

Common Pondweed

Denny Wood

 

 

Fungi:

 

Artist's Fungus

Denny Wood

Birch Bracket

Denny Wood

Varicoloured Bracket

Denny Wood


© The Travelling Naturalist 2001