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Green Hill Farm ecological survey: summer 2023 review

Russ writes:

This review covers the summer period from July-August 2023, and follows on from the spring 2023 review here that included some background to the Green Hill Farm ecological survey and monitoring programme.

A single trail camera continued to operate in a quiet woodland area throughout the summer months and again provided lots of useful mammal images. Up to ten Fallow Deer were seen on most days, all of which were females (does) or young males (prickets). Several heavily pregnant does were observed during June, and it was therefore no surprise to see a new-born fawn being tended to by two does on 01 July - in the following weeks it was evident that up to four does with their fawns were regularly using the site as a nursery area.

Fallow Deer (does) with newborn fawn on 01 July 2023

Fallow Deer (doe) with newborn fawn on 01 July 2023

Fallow Deer (doe) with rapidly-growing fawn on 13 Aug 2023 (different to above)

Two white (leucistic) Fallow Deer with a pricket, doe, and fawn on 29 Aug 2023

Fallow Deer (pricket) on 01 June 2023

Singles of Roe Deer and Muntjac Deer were also occasionally seen, and a Badger was noted on one date. Foxes evidently bred nearby as at least one mature cub was regularly recorded in addition to at least one adult, with two Foxes seen play-fighting on 30 Aug. The only bird of note on the camera was a Buzzard on 06 Aug.

Roe Deer (buck) on 12 Aug 2023

Muntjac Deer (doe) on 20 July 2023

Fox on 20 July 2023

Buzzard on 06 Aug 2023

The front fields, which are the focus of the monitoring programme, were surveyed once per month over the summer during both day and night. The daytime surveys revealed that the westernmost field, which has transitioned to rough grassland with a few scrubby patches, is providing new habitat for a wide variety of fauna. Large invertebrates are becoming more prominent as the vegetation thickens up, with Roesel’s Bush-cricket, Long-winged Conehead, and Lesser Marsh Grasshopper all noted. These in turn are attracting invertebrate predator species such as Wasp Spider and Hornet Robberfly - the former is spreading rapidly north across England in suitable damp grassland habitat, and the latter was formerly classified as nationally scarce but is now thought to be locally distributed on heathland and insect-rich grassland in southern England. These invertebrates are in turn supporting a good variety of larger animals, including a pair of Stonechats with three juveniles and a breeding colony of Common Lizards. The abundant Creeping Thistles also supported a noisy and colourful post-breeding flock of over 50 Goldfinches.

Lesser Marsh Grasshopper on 08 July 2023

Wasp Spider on 04 Aug 2023

Hornet Robberfly on 04 Aug 2023

Common Lizard (adult) on 04 Aug 2023

Common Lizard (juvenile) on 04 Aug 2023

The middle and eastern fields produced some notable flora, including a nice patch of Pyramidal Orchids (scarce in the New Forest) and a couple of specimens of the wonderfully named Corky-fruited Water Dropwort (which has a national stronghold in our region). A colony of Brown Argus butterflies was confirmed, probably linked to the presence of Common Stork’s-bill (a favoured larval foodplant) on an area of these front fields that is heavily grazed by Rabbits.

Pyramidal Orchid on 08 July 2023

Common Centaury on 08 July 2023

Brown Argus on 04 Aug 2023

Nocturnal surveys in the front fields were based around light trapping for moths and other invertebrates. Two nationally scarce species of rough grassland habitats were recorded in August: Waste Grass Veneer Pediasia contaminella and Large Clouded Knot-horn Homoeosoma nebulella; the latter is only the fifth New Forest site record and the larvae feed on thistles, as do the larvae of Smoky-barred Marble Lobesia abscisana that was also recorded in August and is the first record for the northern New Forest. Other notable invertebrates attracted to light included Lesser Stag Beetle and the nationally scarce darkling beetle Diaperis boleti.

Large Emerald on 07 July 2023

Swallowtail Moths on 07 July 2023

Waste Grass Veneer on 17 Aug 2023

Large Clouded Knot-horn on 17 Aug 2023

The spectacular Ichneumon Fly Opheltes glaucopterus on 17 Aug 2023

The nationally scarce beetle Diaperis boleti on 07 July 2023

Finally, the wet conditions in July produced a nice flush of early fungi, including some spectacular examples of Orange Oak Bolete associated with Aspen, and a particularly impressive but smelly group of Stinkhorns in the woodland area!

Orange Oak Bolete on 04 Aug 2023

Stinkhorn on 08 Sep 2023

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