New Forest 2004

Monday 5 - Thursday 8 July 2004

Bob Ford

Highlights of this remarkable trip could include any of the following: the evening deer watch, the singing Nightjars, the brilliantly colourful Kingfisher or the close views of the feeding flock of Godwits. For me however none of these compare with the amazing sight of a Honey Buzzard displaying over the treetops of the New Forest.

Monday July 5th

Weather: Dry and cool in the evening, wind light northerly

Our introduction to the New Forest was a dusk trip to Yew Tree Bottom. The first Nightjar was heard as soon as we left the bus and was seen briefly. No others subsequently appeared but we heard several more out on the heath. A roding Woodcock was considerably more co-operative as it flew low over our heads. Walking back to the bus we found a total of five Glow-worms a very good tally compared to recent years and considering the less than balmy conditions.

Tuesday July 6th

Weather: Warm, dry and sunny, wind light northerly

After an excellent breakfast at the Forest Park Hotel we set out for a raptor-watching site. Smaller birds were first on the menu with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler giving good views. The singing Blackcap stayed hidden, but we did see a close female later on.

The first bird of prey was a soaring Common Buzzard, showing us its characteristic flight profile (wings raised above horizontal and held forward) as it circled high above us. Walking out of the woods and onto the heathland gave us the opportunity to catch up on the typical heathland flora including a fine stand of Bog Asphodels. We had just locked on to our second Common Buzzard when another bird joined it on its thermal. The close proximity of the 2 birds allowed direct comparison of the flight profiles and the second bird clearly had narrower, straighter wings. As it banked we could see that the wings were held flat and we realised that we were looking at a Honey Buzzard! The fanned tail was broad but clearly longer than its companion. All too soon it dropped off its thermal and made a rapid descent down into the forest. It was another 30 minutes before it appeared again, this time much closer and low over the trees, giving us an even better view of its flappy un-Buzzard-like flight and long tail. As if this wasn't enough it suddenly climbed upwards, only to drop back down suddenly in a huge loop the bird was showing us a full flight display! After several of these breath-taking performances the display reached its climax with the bird's wings clapped vertically over its back and then shaken backwards and forwards. This display was watched for a good 5 minutes before the bird flew off into the forest. What a start to the week!

We needed a break after this and stopped at the lily pond for lunch. Emperor and Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies dashed around us while brilliant Blue Damselflies danced around the edge of the pond. Nearby a bright yellow Brimstone butterfly cruised passed. We sat and ate our sandwiches, considering ourselves very fortunate indeed.

The short walk back to the bus produced a number of notable sightings, including the remarkable sight of a Treecreeper sunbathing (or anting?) on a fallen tree, its wings outstretched and held flattened against the trunk.

The afternoon trip was to the coast at Keyhaven, always a great bird-watching location. Today it lived up to its reputation with a pair of Mediterranean Gulls, a close Kingfisher and a flock of feeding Black-tailed Godwits seen from just outside the car park! Walking along the sea wall a number of other birds were seen including single Curlew and Snipe. Reaching the first lagoon more Black-tailed Godwits were found and the first new bird for the Travelling Naturalist New Forest list a fine adult Yellow-legged Gull. Butterflies were also in evidence on this fine afternoon including several Marbled Whites and Small Skippers.

After a lengthy and much-appreciated dinner we wandered out onto the area known as Butts Lawn just outside the hotel. A number of unusual plants were found including the first Meadow Thistles seen on one of these trips. The highlight was the unidentified large insect which collided with your leader and was almost certainly a male Stag Beetle. One bramble bush had a number of ghostly white forms hovering around it female Brown-tail moths looking for egg-laying sites.

Wednesday July 7th

Weather: Warm, with long sunny spells in the morning and a strengthening easterly wind. Heavy rain in afternoon and evening.

The walk from the Shatterford car park down to Bishop's Dyke produced a pair of Wood Larks and a host of new plants including Bogbean, Marsh St John's Wort and Marsh Pennywort. At the edge of the woodland we found the first totally new find of the day a sizeable patch of Small Cudweed (growing alongside the charming little Common Birdsfoot). Another rarity was found further along the path, the tiny white star-like flowers of Round-leaved Crowfoot. An ancient Oak with a colourful young specimen of Artist's Fungus growing at its base received close attention by the photographers in the group until it became obvious that the tree was also home to a number of Hornets. An impressive Dor Beetle was found trundling along the path where several colonies of Solitary Bees were being harassed by various species of wasp. A bright green beetle found here turned out to be the chafer Anomala dubia, another addition to the New Forest list. Butterflies were few and far between in the near-gale force wind, but we did find a gorgeous Small Copper and several Large Skippers.

Lunch in Denny Wood was a rather nervous affair with twigs and small branches crashing down all around us but remarkably a single Silver-washed Fritillary did brave the storm. Plants here included plenty of Butcher's Broom and, just outside the woodland, a beautiful fresh Heath Spotted Orchid. A Green Woodpecker was seen flying across the heath at a record speed with the wind now a full gale force 8. Fortunately the rain held off until we reached the bus.

The best place to be in torrential rain has to be under the sheltering branches of the largest tree in the world - the Giant Redwood. The afternoon found us doing just that in Rhinefield Arboretum where we also saw some huge Douglas Firs and much smaller but just as beautiful Hard Ferns.

The rain continued pouring down over dinner and it was with some trepidation that we set out for our evening deer walk. All was forgotten as we reached the hide overlooking Queens Meadow and saw the herd of female Fallow Deer with their young. Several Red Deer also appeared with their own youngsters. Just outside the hide a Kingfisher was fishing on Highland Water, one of the few rivers to run through the forest. The walk back to the bus was dry enough to tempt out both Nightjar and Woodcock. We drove back to the hotel mesmerised by the sights we had seen and happy not to be outside in what had become an appallingly wet night.

Thursday July 8th

Weather: Heavy showers interspersed with short but warm sunny spells in a light wind.

Morning found us back at Rhinefield Arboretum determined to find the Crossbills we had heard the previous evening. Eventually we did find them at the top of a very tall Douglas Fir and a few of us were able to get a good view through the telescope before they flew off. The highlight here were the trees though. Most will not appear on the species list as they were under cultivation but some of the rarer species are worth mentioning, such as Sessile Oak, Japanese Cedar, Gingko and Cherry Birch. Wild plants growing here included Common Cow-wheat and another new species for these trips - Leafy Hawkweed.

After a brief excursion to the see the Fallow Deer at the Bolderwood viewpoint we ate lunch in the bus waiting for the rain to stop. When it did we walked into Bolderwood amongst some very majestic Beeches. A fine Golden-ringed Dragonfly was found hanging vertically from a Bramble stem, allowing for close views and photographs. Both Nuthatch and Treecreeper were seen here and a Stock Dove provided a constant "hoo-hoo" in the background. Returning to the bus, a freshly-grown Cep was admired at the side of the path.

Our final excursion was to Hatchet Pond, and was in the first spell of unbroken sunshine of the day. Oddly the dragonflies that this site is famous for did not appear, but we still had plenty of good plants to see including flowering Lawn Chamomile and the rare Hampshire Purslane.

Driving back to the hotel for the last time we had assumed that our wildlife sightings were over when a splendid Common Buzzard flew across the road a few feet in front of the bus. A fitting end to a great trip.

Bob Ford

Travelling Naturalist Trip List New Forest July 5th - 8th 2004

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


Cormorant Keyhaven

Little Egret Keyhaven

Grey Heron Keyhaven

Mute Swan Keyhaven

Canada Goose Poundhill Inclosure

Shelduck Keyhaven

Mallard Keyhaven

Honey Buzzard Raptor watchpoint

Sparrowhawk Raptor watchpoint

Buzzard Raptor watchpoint

Pheasant Rhinefield Arboretum

Moorhen Hatchet Pond

Oystercatcher Keyhaven

Lapwing Keyhaven

Black-tailed Godwit Keyhaven

Snipe Keyhaven

Woodcock Yew Tree Bottom

Curlew Keyhaven

Redshank Keyhaven

Mediterranean Gull Keyhaven

Black-headed Gull Keyhaven

Lesser Black-backed Gull Keyhaven

Herring Gull Keyhaven

*Yellow-legged Gull Keyhaven

Great Black-backed Gull Keyhaven

Sandwich Tern Keyhaven

Common Tern Keyhaven

Wood Pigeon Raptor watchpoint

Stock Dove Denny Wood

Collared Dove Brockenhurst

Green Woodpecker Denny Wood

Great Spotted Woodpecker Raptor watchpoint

Nightjar Poundhill Inclosure

Kingfisher Keyhaven

Wood Lark Raptor watchpoint

Swift Denny Wood

Sand Martin Denny Wood

Swallow Denny Wood

House Martin Denny Wood

Meadow Pipit Raptor watchpoint

Pied Wagtail Forest Park Hotel

Wren Rhinefield Arboretum

Dunnock Bolderwood

Robin Rhinefield Arboretum

Redstart Denny Wood

Stonechat Raptor watchpoint

Blackbird Raptor watchpoint

Song Thrush Raptor watchpoint

Mistle Thrush Raptor watchpoint

Whitethroat Keyhaven

Blackcap Raptor watchpoint

Chiffchaff Raptor watchpoint

Willow Warbler Raptor watchpoint

Goldcrest Raptor watchpoint

Coal Tit Raptor watchpoint

Blue Tit Raptor watchpoint

Great Tit Raptor watchpoint

Nuthatch Bolderwood

Treecreeper Raptor watchpoint

Jay Forest Park Hotel

Magpie Raptor watchpoint

Jackdaw Raptor watchpoint

Rook Brockenhurst

Carrion Crow Raptor watchpoint

Starling Raptor watchpoint

House Sparrow Hatchet Pond

Chaffinch Raptor watchpoint

Greenfinch Raptor watchpoint

Goldfinch Raptor watchpoint

Linnet Keyhaven

Crossbill Rhinefield Arboretum

Bullfinch Raptor watchpoint

Yellowhammer Hatchet Pond

Reed Bunting Keyhaven


Small Tortoiseshell Keyhaven

Silver-washed Fritillary Denny Wood

Marbled White Keyhaven

Meadow Brown Raptor watchpoint

Gatekeeper Bolderwood

Brimstone Raptor watchpoint

Large White Raptor watchpoint

Small White Raptor watchpoint

Silver-studded Blue Raptor watchpoint

Small Copper Denny Wood

Small Skipper Keyhaven

Large Skipper Denny Wood


*Brown-tail Moth Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Common Blue Damselfly Raptor watchpoint

Broad-bodied Chaser Raptor watchpoint

Emperor Dragonfly Raptor watchpoint

Golden-ringed Dragonfly Bolderwood

Wood Cricket Raptor watchpoint

Common Green Grasshopper Raptor watchpoint

Pond Skater Denny Wood

Great Water Boatman Denny Wood

Soldier Beetle Keyhaven

*Anomala dubia (a chafer) Denny Wood

*Stag Beetle Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Glow-worm Yew Tree Bottom

Sand Wasp Denny Wood

Hornet Denny Wood

*Solitary Bee Denny Wood

Wood Ant Denny Wood


Fox Keyhaven

Rabbit Raptor watchpoint

Grey Squirrel Forest Park Hotel

Fallow Deer Poundhill Inclosure

Red Deer Poundhill Inclosure

Common Shrew Bolderwood


Frog Denny Wood


*Polypody Bolderwood

Hard Fern Rhinefield Arboretum

Bracken Raptor watchpoint

Scots Pine Raptor watchpoint

Ash Bolderwood

Field Maple Bolderwood

Birch Raptor watchpoint

Beech Raptor watchpoint

Sweet Chestnut Bolderwood

Pedunculate Oak Raptor watchpoint

Alder Buckthorn Raptor watchpoint

Bog Myrtle Denny Wood

*Round-leaved Crowfoot Denny Wood

Creeping Buttercup Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Lesser Spearwort Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Round-leaved Sundew Raptor watchpoint

Oblong-leaved Sundew Raptor watchpoint

Glasswort Keyhaven

Marsh St John's Wort Raptor watchpoint

Square-stemmed St John's Wort Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Musk Mallow Keyhaven

Holly Raptor watchpoint

Gorse Raptor watchpoint

Common Birdsfoot Denny Wood

White Clover Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Red Clover Keyhaven

Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil Denny Wood

Birdsfoot Trefoil Raptor watchpoint

Tufted Vetch Keyhaven

Whitebeam Raptor watchpoint

Bramble Raptor watchpoint

Silverweed Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Tormentil Raptor watchpoint

Wood Sorrel Denny Wood

Dog Rose Raptor watchpoint

Hawthorn Raptor watchpoint

Water Purslane Raptor watchpoint

Hampshire Purslane Hatchet Pond

Ivy Raptor watchpoint

Marsh Pennywort Denny Wood

Wood Spurge Denny Wood

Sheep's Sorrel Denny Wood

Water Pepper Raptor watchpoint

*Fiddle Dock Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Nettle Bolderwood

Creeping Willow Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Sallow Denny Wood

Thrift Keyhaven

Sea Lavender Keyhaven

Water Forget-me-not Denny Wood

Foxglove Raptor watchpoint

Heath Speedwell Denny Wood

Lousewort Denny Wood

Common Cow-wheat Rhinefield Arboretum

Bogbean Denny Wood

Cross-leaved Heath Raptor watchpoint

Ling Raptor watchpoint

Bell Heather Raptor watchpoint

Bilberry Raptor watchpoint

Lesser Skullcap Denny Wood

Self-heal Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Water Mint Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Common Water-plantain Hatchet Pond

Marsh Bedstraw Raptor watchpoint

Honeysuckle Raptor watchpoint

*Devilsbit Scabious Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Marsh Ragwort Denny Wood

Ragwort Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Sticky Groundsel Keyhaven

Daisy Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Yarrow Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Sneezewort Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Lawn Chamomile Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

*Small Cudweed Denny Wood

Marsh Thistle Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

*Meadow Thistle Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

*Leafy Hawkweed Rhinefield Arboretum

Common Cats-ear Rhinefield Arboretum

Dandelion Butts Lawn, Brockenhurst

Bog Asphodel Raptor watchpoint

Butcher's Broom Denny Wood

Heath Spotted Orchid Denny Wood

Common Pondweed Denny Wood

Water Horsetail Denny Wood

Reedmace Hatchet Pond

Reed Keyhaven

Sea Couch Keyhaven

White Beak-sedge Raptor watchpoint


Cep Bolderwood

Birch Bolete Denny Wood

Artist's Fungus Denny Wood

Tremella sp. Bolderwood

© The Travelling Naturalist 2004