TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

New Forest

Monday 7 - Thursday 10 July 2003


Leaders:
Bob Ford

Based at: Forest Park Hotel, Rhinefield Road, Brockenhurst

Weather: Dry and hot, light winds.

In heatwave conditions we found birds very difficult to find in the Forest, with most species being seen on the coast. However, the weather certainly suited the insects and we broke all records in numbers of butterflies and dragonflies seen.

Monday July 7th

A dusk outing at Yew Tree Bottom got the week off to a good start with a singing Nightjar giving great views as it sat on a telegraph pole not far away from us.

Tuesday July 8th

Acre's Down was a beautiful place to visit on our first full day in the forest. A family of Grey Wagtails treated us to unusually close views as they fed on a puddle in a woodland path. A singing Tree Pipit was eventually found but never came very close. A female Redstart was more obliging, as were a number of Stonechats. The best bird seen was a single Woodlark, found just before it flew off after being disturbed by a horse-rider. Butterflies were abundant in the warm sunshine and were mainly Silver-studded Blues with one or two early Graylings. The lightest of showers forced us to shelter next to a very attractive pond covered with red and white water-lilies, where we found Common Blue Damselfly, Emperor Dragonfly and Broad-bodied Darter.

Nearby Wick Wood provided the site for a very pleasant picnic lunch. Little was seen in the way of wildlife but we were happy just to absorb the atmosphere amongst some of the largest Beech trees we had ever seen.

In the afternoon we explored the coastal scene at Pennington. Almost the fist birds we saw were a flock of Black-tailed Godwits including several in full summer plumage. Nearby were Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Turnstone. In fact we kept on adding waders to the list, finding a total of 10 species in about 30 minutes, the highlight being a brief view of a pair of Little Ringed Plovers.

Our evening walk had to be brief as dinner lasted a memorable 2 hours! Crossing the road outside the hotel we searched the allotment area for Little Owls. As we approached one started calling from the trees around the allotments but refused to be located. We were just about to give up when a dark shape appeared behind the trees - not a Little Owl but the much rarer Barn Owl!

Wednesday July 9th

From Beaulieu Road Station we walked towards the marshy area of Bishop's Dyke. The pools at the edge of the path supported a good range of dragonflies in the hot weather. Keeled and Black-tailed Skimmers were most numerous with Common Darter, Blue-tailed Damselflies and Small Red Damselflies in smaller numbers. The best find was a mating pair of Black Darters, the first ever seen on one of these trips. Walking on into Denny Wood we added a few more woodland birds to the list including Nuthatch and Treecreeper. The temperature continued to rise and was soon hot enough to encourage Wood Crickets to start singing, a sound only heard on the hottest days of the year. Further on a number of huge orange Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen feeding on Bramble blossom.

Our afternoon trip was to Keyhaven where we added Water Rail and Little Tern to the list. This year the Common Terns chose to nest much closer to the harbour than usual, giving us the chance to see their frantic reaction to a patrolling Kestrel.

The evening meal was prepared and served in record time by the staff at the Forest Park Hotel enabling us to get to our evening appointment with Forest Ranger Paul Hibberd at Blackwater car park. We were taken into Poundhill Inclosure where we were shown a small group of female Red Deer with a few young stags, their antlers still thickly covered in velvet. Nearby was a larger group of Fallow Deer including a rare white female. A noisy male Redstart was eventually found in a tree and the ranger showed us the first orchid of the trip, a beautiful Heath Spotted Orchid. Reaching Queen's Meadow we climbed into the deer observation hide and were treated to the sight of 46 female Fallow Deer looking after 27 fawns. I suspect most of us present will regard this as being the highlight of the week, especially the spectacle of the fawns running around in groups and behaving generally like spring lambs! We arrived back at the bus as the last of the day's light was going, and just as first of the Nightjars started to sing. We had good views of 2 of these remarkable birds when a different sound was discernable through all the churring - the "tizzick" of a roding Woodcock. The bird responsible appeared briefly before vanishing into the dark of the forest. A movement in the scrub nearby prompted one of our group to spot a Roe Deer quietly feeding just a few metres away from us. To cap a terrific evening Paul produced a bat-detector and we were able to hear the chirruping of a hunting Pipistrelle as it swooped over our heads.

Thursday July 11th

The weather continued to get hotter through the week so it was just as well that we had decided to concentrate on butterflies for our final day with a visit to the Wiltshire butterfly reserve at Bentley Wood. The drive north through the forest into the borders of Wiltshire took us through some gorgeous countryside and added Hare to the mammal list, now standing at a record eight species. Reaching our destination, the party was still disembarking when the first White Admiral was seen, circling the crown of a small Oak next to the car park. The rest of the morning was spent finding a bewildering variety of butterflies including Gatekeepers, Ringlets, more White Admirals, countless Silver-washed Fritillaries and a even a pair of Brimstones. Notable plants here included Common Spotted Orchid, Agrimony, Fleabane and Coltsfoot.

We now had just an hour or 2 left to clean up on a few birds that had eluded us so far, particularly Dartford Warbler and Hobby. Hampton Ridge has for many years been the classic New Forest site for both species so finding ourselves in the north-west corner of the Forest we decided to spend our last afternoon here. A welcome breeze went some way to relieve the oppressive heat of the afternoon but did not encourage either of our targets to appear. We had good views of a "hovering" Buzzard though and found some new plants for the list including the rare Ivy-leaved Crowfoot, Watercress and a couple of Puffballs (Bovista nigrescens).

So we finished the week without seeing several of the Forest's expected birds, but having covered an incredibly wide variety of insects, plants and mammals in, most importantly, very congenial company. My thanks to you all for making this such an enjoyable week.

Bob Ford, 12/7/03

SPECIES LISTS

* indicates the first record for this species on our New Forest trips

Birds: (89 species)

Great Crested Grebe PENNINGTON

Cormorant PENNINGTON

Little Egret PENNINGTON

Grey Heron PENNINGTON

Mute Swan PENNINGTON

Canada Goose PENNINGTON

Shelduck PENNINGTON

Mallard PENNINGTON

Wigeon PENNINGTON

Buzzard ACRE'S DOWN

Kestrel DENNY WOOD

Red-legged Partridge BEAULIEU

Pheasant ACRE'S DOWN

Moorhen PENNINGTON

Coot PENNINGTON

Water Rail KEYHAVEN

Oystercatcher PENNINGTON

Ringed Plover PENNINGTON

Little Ringed Plover PENNINGTON

Lapwing PENNINGTON

Dunlin PENNINGTON

Black-tailed Godwit PENNINGTON

Woodcock POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

Curlew PENNINGTON

Redshank PENNINGTON

Greenshank PENNINGTON

Turnstone PENNINGTON

*Mediterranean Gull PENNINGTON

Black-headed Gull PENNINGTON

Common Gull PENNINGTON

Lesser Black-backed Gull PENNINGTON

Herring Gull PENNINGTON

Great Black-backed Gull PENNINGTON

Sandwich Tern PENNINGTON

Common Tern PENNINGTON

Little Tern KEYHAVEN

Wood Pigeon ACRE'S DOWN

Stock Dove ACRE'S DOWN

Collared Dove BROCKENHURST

Tawny Owl (heard) POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

Little Owl FOREST PARK HOTEL

Barn Owl FOREST PARK HOTEL

Green Woodpecker ACRE'S DOWN

Great Spotted Woodpecker ACRE'S DOWN

Nightjar YEW TREE BOTTOM

Wood Lark ACRE'S DOWN

Skylark PENNINGTON

Swift BROCKENHURST

Sand Martin PENNINGTON

Swallow ACRE'S DOWN

House Martin BEAULIEU ROAD STATION

Meadow Pipit ACRE'S DOWN

Tree Pipit ACRE'S DOWN

Grey Wagtail ACRE'S DOWN

Pied Wagtail FOREST PARK HOTEL

Wren BENTLEY WOOD

Dunnock ACRE'S DOWN

Robin ACRE'S DOWN

Redstart ACRE'S DOWN

Stonechat ACRE'S DOWN

Blackbird ACRE'S DOWN

Song Thrush ACRE'S DOWN

Mistle Thrush ACRE'S DOWN

Whitethroat PENNINGTON

Blackcap ACRE'S DOWN

Chiffchaff BENTLEY WOOD

Goldcrest ACRE'S DOWN

Spotted Flycatcher POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

Long-tailed Tit ACRE'S DOWN

Coal Tit ACRE'S DOWN

Blue Tit ACRE'S DOWN

Great Tit PENNINGTON

Nuthatch DENNY WOOD

Treecreeper DENNY WOOD

Jay ACRE'S DOWN

Magpie ACRE'S DOWN

Jackdaw FOREST PARK HOTEL

Rook BROCKENHURST

Carrion Crow BROCKENHURST

Starling FOREST PARK HOTEL

House Sparrow KEYHAVEN

Chaffinch ACRE'S DOWN

Greenfinch ACRE'S DOWN

Goldfinch ACRE'S DOWN

Linnet ACRE'S DOWN

Siskin ACRE'S DOWN

Bullfinch ACRE'S DOWN

Yellowhammer WEST DEAN

Reed Bunting PENNINGTON

Butterflies: (19 species)

Peacock PENNINGTON

Painted Lady PENNINGTON

Small Tortoiseshell PENNINGTON

Red Admiral PENNINGTON

White Admiral BENTLEY WOOD

Silver-washed Fritillary ACRE'S DOWN

*Grayling ACRE'S DOWN

*Speckled Wood ACRE'S DOWN

Marbled White KEYHAVEN

Small Heath DENNY WOOD

Meadow Brown ACRE'S DOWN

Gatekeeper ACRE'S DOWN

Brimstone BENTLEY WOOD

*Large White PENNINGTON

Small White ACRE'S DOWN

Silver-studded Blue ACRE'S DOWN

Small Copper PENNINGTON

Small Skipper KEYHAVEN

Large Skipper ACRE'S DOWN

Moths: (3 species)

Shaded Broad Bar HAMPTON RIDGE

Cinnabar PENNINGTON

6-spot Burnet BENTLEY WOOD

Dragonflies: (10 species)

Small Red Damselfly DENNY WOOD

Blue-tailed Damselfly DENNY WOOD

Common Blue Damselfly ACRE'S DOWN

Common Darter DENNY WOOD

*Black Darter DENNY WOOD

Keeled Skimmer DENNY WOOD

Black-tailed Skimmer DENNY WOOD

Broad-bodied Chaser ACRE'S DOWN

Emperor ACRE'S DOWN

*Brown Hawker BENTLEY WOOD

Other Insects: (7 species)

Wood Cricket (heard) DENNY WOOD

Pond Skater HAMPTON RIDGE

Whirligig Beetle DENNY WOOD

Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) BENTLEY WOOD

Sand Wasp DENNY WOOD

Hornet BENTLEY WOOD

*Horse Fly (Chrysops spp) HAMPTON RIDGE

Mammals: (8 species)

Fox PENNINGTON

*Hare WEST DEAN

Rabbit PENNINGTON

Grey Squirrel DENNY WOOD

Roe Deer POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

Fallow Deer DENNY WOOD

Red Deer DENNY WOOD

Common Pipistrelle POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

Reptiles/Amphibians: (1 species)

Toad DENNY WOOD

Plants: (69 species)

Bracken ACRE'S DOWN

Scots Pine ACRE'S DOWN

Birch ACRE'S DOWN

Beech ACRE'S DOWN

White Poplar KEYHAVEN

Pedunculate Oak ACRE'S DOWN

Bog Myrtle DENNY WOOD

*Ivy-leaved Crowfoot HAMPTON RIDGE

Round-leaved Sundew ACRE'S DOWN

*Watercress HAMPTON RIDGE

Horseradish PENNINGTON

Milkwort ACRE'S DOWN

Sea Campion KEYHAVEN

Glasswort KEYHAVEN

Common Orache PENNINGTON

Marsh St John's Wort DENNY WOOD

Musk Mallow PENNINGTON

Mallow KEYHAVEN

Holly ACRE'S DOWN

Gorse ACRE'S DOWN

White Clover PENNINGTON

Red Clover PENNINGTON

Black Medick PENNINGTON

Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil BENTLEY WOOD

Birdsfoot Trefoil PENNINGTON

Tufted Vetch KEYHAVEN

Bramble ACRE'S DOWN

*Agrimony BENTLEY WOOD

Creeping Cinquefoil BENTLEY WOOD

Tormentil ACRE'S DOWN

Dog Rose PENNINGTON

Ivy ACRE'S DOWN

Hogweed PENNINGTON

Carrot PENNINGTON

*Wild Parsnip BENTLEY WOOD

Japanese Knotweed PENNINGTON

Common Sorrel PENNINGTON

Sallow BENTLEY WOOD

Sea Lavender KEYHAVEN

*Rosebay Willowherb WEST DEAN

Bog Pimpernel HAMPTON RIDGE

Centaury ACRE'S DOWN

Vervain PENNINGTON

Foxglove ACRE'S DOWN

*Common Figwort BENTLEY WOOD

Lousewort ACRE'S DOWN

Cross-leaved Heath ACRE'S DOWN

Ling ACRE'S DOWN

Bell Heather ACRE'S DOWN

Bilberry ACRE'S DOWN

Lesser Skullcap DENNY WOOD

*Self-heal ACRE'S DOWN

Marsh Bedstraw KEYHAVEN

Honeysuckle ACRE'S DOWN

Teasel PENNINGTON

Marsh Ragwort FOREST PARK HOTEL

Daisy DENNY WOOD

Yarrow PENNINGTON

Sea Mayweed KEYHAVEN

*Coltsfoot BENTLEY WOOD

*Fleabane BENTLEY WOOD

Marsh Thistle ACRE'S DOWN

Perennial Sow-thistle PENNINGTON

Common Cats-ear DENNY WOOD

Bog Asphodel ACRE'S DOWN

Common Spotted Orchid BENTLEY WOOD

Heath Spotted Orchid POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

Common Pondweed DENNY WOOD

*White Beak-sedge ACRE'S DOWN

Fungi: (2 species)

Stinkhorn (smelled!) POUNDHILL INCLOSURE

*Puffball HAMPTON RIDGE


© The Travelling Naturalist 2003