November 2022 Newsletter
The New Forest in Autumn is a magical place, with over 2700 species of fungi recorded making it one of the best places in the UK to see a diverse mix of species. Many of the fungi that we observe are simply the fruiting bodies of a larger organism that is living beneath our feet. The role of the fruiting body is to protect and disperse the precious spores to further propagate the species. The many different strategies of each species and the complex inter-relationships with host flora create a rich mosaic of fungi in our woodlands, heathlands, and grazing lawns. Each is striving to compete and disperse its spores before being consumed by the many and varied species that benefit from our New Forest fungi.
Fungi are vitally important for a range of species from small invertebrates to large mammals, supporting many animals that make the New Forest their home. This is why Wild New Forest support Forestry England with their ‘look but don’t pick’ policy, and we actively encourage others to enjoy the beautiful array of fungi in the New Forest at this time of year while leaving them there for others to also enjoy.
Wild New Forest run a series of popular Fungi Explorer walks throughout the autumn covering a mix of habitats. The walks are suitable for anybody from complete novice to enthusiastic amateur - on each walk we identify a wide variety of species and discuss their role in the forest ecosystem. On most trips we record 50-60 easily identifiable species, but some are inevitably left unidentified as we don’t pick fungi for identification purposes. A full list of species observed in the order of observation is supplied to attendees after each trip.
Images from the top, Burgundydrop Boonnet, Holly Parachute and Powderpuff Bracket, taken on Wild New Forest walks through Oct
©Wild New Forest
October walk highlights
Graced with good weather through most of the month we managed to run 17 scheduled guided walks, six bespoke guided walks, four boat trips, one photography masterclass, and one young person’s wildlife weekend.
The walks covered a range of sites across the New Forest and nearby coast - the month was dominated by fungi but avian highlights included a good number of common migrants ranging from showy Little Stints to outgoing Ospreys fishing in the Solent and incoming Brambling frantically feeding up on fallen beech mast. Fungi walks were as popular as ever with each walk recording up to 60 species.
Boat trips included one longer trip across to the Isle of Wight and produced a list of species typical for the time of year including Common and Green Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, and a nice mix of seabirds including showy Arctic and Sandwich Terns. As is often the way for the Beaulieu River, raptors made their presence felt with records of Osprey, Goshawk and Marsh Harrier.
Late in the month we teamed up with local photographer Steve Laycock for the first of a series of photographic masterclasses, this one focussing on fungi. Based out of Millyford Bridge, Steve ran the group through photographic techniques, sharing tips and tricks to help improve results. Steve provided access to his equipment and extensive knowledge, and helped the group focus on a handful of subjects in a mix of challenging environments with some very impressive results!
Highlight of the month was the biannual Young Person’s Wildlife Camp, sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust and hosted by RSPB at Cameron’s Cottage in the heart of their Franchises Lodge reserve. This year we welcomed 20 teenagers for a weekend exploring the local area; all were enthused by wildlife and spent every waking minute exploring and discussing the local flora, fauna, and fungi. Events included a mini-bioblitz, moth trapping, mammal camera trapping, fungi finding, nocturnal walks, and a longer walk across the adjacent Crown lands of the New Forest with Forestry England’s Head of Wildlife Management, Andy Page. Our thanks go to Sonja Bottomer, Andrew Colenutt, Ali Dennis, Andy Page, Jane Pownall and Christine Sams for their support and help throughout the weekend, without which the camp wouldn’t be possible.
Images from the top, Ruff, the fungi photographic masterclass, and Harbour Seal, taken on Wild New Forest trips through Oct
©Wild New Forest
October is traditionally a quiet time for fieldwork, and for us this mainly involved ongoing work conducting ecological surveys with private New Forest landowners. In addition, the Pine Marten survey continued with monitoring at two woodland sites, while Hawfinch fieldwork was limited to monitoring of communal roosts as numbers start to build post moult. Keep an eye out for blog posts coming soon with updates on our Pine Marten and Hawfinch fieldwork.
Looking ahead to November
In addition to scheduled events in November (which include two Fungi Explorer walks, five Beaulieu River Boat Trips and a Keyhaven Explorer Walk) we will look to add additional fungi walks for as long as there are plenty of fungi to find! Keep an eye out for Hawfinch roost walks - dates will be added to the diary as soon as the roosts start building. Our current schedule of events and access to our bookings platform can be reached via our website at https://www.wildnewforest.co.uk/event-calendar
Wild New Forest Facebook highlights
A busy month on the Facebook page with 656 posts and 3870 comments, as expected for the time of year fungi dominated. We are not alone in finding the many and varied fungi posts educational, especially when a description is included. The quality of the imagery on the Facebook page is exceptional, our most popular post this month was Rob Farnworth’s excellent images and eloquent description of the aroma of Devil’s Fingers eggs.
Other highlights for us this month included Stuart Biddlecombe’s excellent image of a Hedgehog colleting leaves on 12 October and the positive police response reported by Keith Betton following up on the report of jet skiers causing disturbance at Keyhaven Marsh, it is great to see the community taking action against careless individuals.
Wild New Forest Vouchers
Wild New Forest vouchers are available for walks and boat trips, and make a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for that person that is difficult to buy for! Each voucher can be personalised and can be redeemed at any time.
November illustrated talks
10 Nov 2022: HIWWT Fareham (The New Forest Pine Marten Project)
11 Nov 2022: Shoreham and District Ornithological Society (Wild New Forest projects update)
22 Nov 2022: The Ramblers - New Forest (A New Forest Year)