Autumn starts early
A combination of milder temperatures and increased rainfall over the past month has encouraged a good early crop of fungal fruiting bodies across the New Forest. The beech woodlands especially seem to have abundant numbers of common species such as milkcaps, brittlegills and large numbers of Amethyst Deceiver and Tawny Grisette. In the mix are a few of our scarcer species, it looks to be a good year for Silky Rosegill and Ganoderma resinaceum. Personally, I love fungi season, it really does add an extra dimension to my time in the field. Identification can be tricky at times, but I try not to stress too much. It is a treat simply enjoying the diverse mix of species to be seen, you never know what is around the corner.
The world of fungi is a fascinating one in many ways, I especially like the way each species has evolved its own way of avoiding being eaten by the many species (including us humans) that take sustenance from fungi. Some species have evolved to blend into the environment as a form of camouflage, while others display bright colours as a deterrent. We all know only too well that fungi can be poisonous or simply taste or smell bad while others defend themselves against one of their worst enemies, the humble slug by creating a coating of slime-like substance acting as a deterrent. Add to this the many ingenious methods of procreating by spreading spores, the chief goal of the fungal fruiting bodies that we see and the fascinating world that we don’t see beneath the soil makes for an amazing story. The incredible diversity of specialisms, habitats and environments of fungi leads to a wonderful mix of species that can be seen.
If you want to see fungi in the New Forest will be running a series of guided walks this autumn looking at fungi and the world in which they inhabit, see the last page of the newsletter for dates.
Keeping the autumnal theme, August is traditionally a great month for early returning migrants and the coast can be especially productive. Personally, I am mildly obsessed with our species of wader, the mix of the truly wild lifestyles that they lead, pitting themselves against the very extremes of our climate and some of the astonishing journeys that they make, commuting between breeding and wintering grounds.
I never forget the amazing tale
of the colour ringed juvenile Little Stint that I recorded a few years ago at Normandy Marsh, Lymington. This recently hatched tiny bird, similar in size to a House Sparrow had flown solo from northern Norway; it had been ringed just 3 days previously by Norwegian ringers some 996km to the north. Amazingly this is not even halfway through the incredible journey this young bird has to contemplate, yet it hung out with a small group of Dunlin nonchalantly picking off small insects from the waters edge to fuel the next part of its journey, almost as if this is an everyday occurrence.
Images from the top, Tawny Grisette and Little Stint ©Wild New Forest
At this time of year almost anything can turn up; I recall one
special date 21st July (not only as it is my Mum’s birthday) when, in 2002, a Stilt Sandpiper that should have been travelling from north to south America turned up at Pennington Marsh (found by Russ). The following year, 2003, on the same date we had a stunning Lesser (Mongolian) Sand Plover from central Asia in the same spot. This perfectly exemplifies that anything can turn up at any time. While it is nice to see a rare species from time to time, what really fascinates me is the experiences these individuals must have had just to get here. This is not just restricted to our rare birds, common species such as Turnstone, Lapwing and Curlew could all have endured similar epic journeys to visit our safe havens to rest and refuel. This is why it is so important to protect these important staging posts and respect the wildlife that visits them to refuel, spend the winter and breed.
What to look for in August & September
The heath can look glorious in August and September as the heather is in full flower. This is a great time to go out and look for the three common species of Heather that occur in the New Forest (Ling, Bell Heather ad Cross-leaved Heath). Flowering heather can attract good numbers of pollinating insects such as bees and wasps. Amongst the numerous Honeybees that will undoubtedly be busy across the heath, keep an eye out for some of the scarcer bees, wasps and hoverflies.
While out on the heath, and with bees in mind, if you find yourself in an area with soft soil or sand it is worth looking for the tell-tale holes of burrowing wasps and bees such as the impressive Beewolf or the rather distinctive Pantaloon Bee. These unassuming invertebrates lead fascinating lives.
August and September is also a great time for migrating birds, which can turn up anywhere. In the New Forest it is the best time of year to find species such as Pied Flycatcher while our hirundines and wagtails will start gathering at regular roost and feeding sites, in reedbeds, such as those at Hinchelsea or Lymington which can be productive at dawn and dusk.
July walk highlights
July was a busy month with quite a few activities, despite the largely unsettled weather that dominated throughout the month. Overall, we ran ten scheduled walks, four boat trips and two bespoke trips. In addition we hosted the Young Persons Wildlife Camp over the last weekend of the month.
The Young Persons Wildlife Camp at Franchises Lodge RSPB is always one of the highlights of the year. This year we were lucky again with the weather and had a great group of youngsters for the weekend. This event wouldn’t be possible without the kind sponsorship from the Cameron Bespolka Trust and the volunteers and mentors that generously give up their weekend to make the event such a success. The highlight of the weekend for me was the bioblitz which is always great fun and I always learn so much. The Nightjar ringing and moth trapping were also very productive and our Saturday evening BBQ was good fun. Blog summarising feedback from the youngsters has been uploaded to the WNF website here.
The Beaulieu River Boat Trip was productive through the month with the seals continuing to almost pose for us. On one trip we were treated to a Grey Seal swimming parallel and keeping pace with the boat along the length of the river. The Sandwich Terns also put on a good show on most trips, often fishing alongside the boat while birds of prey remained a feature.
Images from the top, Lesser Sand Plover and Evarcha arcuata ©Wild New Forest.
July fieldwork highlights
July can be a busy month for fieldwork; the Pine Marten survey continued with the cameras being switched to a fourth location this month. Pine Marten has been recorded in each area surveyed so far this year. We have also picked up records of Polecat and Otter in most areas surveyed.
At the coast the BTO CES (Constant Effort Survey) was thwarted somewhat by the inclement weather, but we still managed a couple of sessions. It was a real pleasure to see good numbers of Tern fledge from Lymington / Keyhaven Marshes including a number of the birds colour-ringed in June. We are now getting records of Little, Common and Sandwich Terns from locations to the west, including Christchurch Harbour, Lodmoor RSPB (Weymouth) and Dawlish Warren.
General survey work included a few mothing sessions at private sites in the north of the Forest producing some interesting results.
Other events attended in July included the Bucklers Hard Conservation Day and our first time exhibiting at the New Forest Show, it was great to see so maybe familiar faces there.
We have recently added new dates for the Beaulieu River Boat Trip covering the period September and October, along with a schedule of Fungi Explorer events (see end page for details of upcoming walks).
We are also looking to add a new walk with local commoner Suzanne Kemp that will focus on Commoning. We have arranged walks with Suzanne in the past, she is a great font of knowledge about all things New Forest. The walk will be co-led with Wild New Forest discussing wildlife and the relationship with the grazing stock.
We still have spaces on the Wader Identification Master Class due to be held on 26th August, and one place remaining on the Beaulieu River & Newtown Harbour trip on 28th August. Both promise to be great events.
Our current schedule of events is listed below and our booking platform can be reached via our website at https://www.wildnewforest.co.uk/event-calendar
Images from the top, Common Guillemot on Spring Wildlife Cruise ©Wild New Forest
Wild New Forest Facebook highlights
The Facebook Page continues to be a great hub information with some great images posted over the post month. We are trying to get more active on other form of social media such at Twitter and Instagram so do please have a look and follow us. The most popular post on Facebook this month was a proud Dad moment of mine, when my son Jamie received the Young Environmentalist of the Year award at the New Forest Show.
We launched three new T-shirt designs at the New Forest Show (Hawfinch, Pine Marten & Fungi). The designs are printed on high quality ‘Fruit of the Loom’ shirts priced at £25.00. We have tried to keep the price as competitive as possible while achieving the quality you would expect from WNF. As a not-for-profit organisation any profits made go back into research and conservation in the New Forest.
We would like to thank all our guests who take the time to leave a review on TripAdvisor. We are currently rated as 5*. All our reviews can be found here.
Jul 23, 2023 A gentle and fascinating walk Tripadvisor review Guided Walking Tour of New Forest National Park in Hampshire
A wonderful gentle walk exploring the beautiful diverse habitats in the Forest.
Our guide was exceptionally knowledgeable and answered all our questions. He explained the history and customs of the ‘Commoners’ who have had the right to graze their ponies and cows in the New Forest nature reserve for centuries.
It was a happy and memorable walk. One I would highly recommend for all those with a love of the countryside who want to learn more about its animals, flora and fauna. I will certainly return. Thank you Marcus.
Jul 15, 2023 devilingam Wonderful walk with a great guide! Tripadvisor review:
Small-group New Forest Discovery Walk from Lyndhurst We thoroughly enjoyed our walk with Marcus (who was full of knowledge about the history of the New Forest, the local wildlife and habitats) and Emily-Louise. We were lucky enough to see a young cuckoo, silver-washed fritillary, and a bee-wolf colony… highly recommended!!!
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