By Amy Squire
As a young naturalist, I had such a lovely time in the New Forest, as I always do, today when out on a walk with my Mum at one of our favourite spots, Puttles Bridge. Nature-crazy and interested in absolutely anything and everything nature orientated, we were hoping to spot some interesting fungi which has been about in recent weeks, due to the damp but warm weather we have had this year. However, there was seemingly little fungi about, but we did happen to see Wolf’s Milk slime mould, along with Beefsteak, Dyer’s Mazegill, Grey Coral and Turkeytail.
Image Beefsteak ©Amy Squire
Image: Wolf's Milk Slime Mold ©Amy Squire
Despite the lack of fungi, there was a large amount of bird life and we found ourselves immersed in a chorus of birdsong. The low, grumbling ‘korrp korrp korrp’ call with rolled r’s from a raven in the distance, the mewling ‘kee-ahh’ cry of a common buzzard flying above, the chipping noise of a robin, the machine-gun rapid fire call of an incredibly noisy wren, the ‘chi-chi-chi-chi-chi’ calls of the blue tits, together with the call of the great tit, which we always think sounds a bit like a squeaky hinge or wheel. The backing track was filled in by a family group of Long-tailed tits with their tiny ‘tsee tsee tsee’ calls, and then backed up with one of my favourite calls, that of the Marsh Tits, who sound like they are sneezing!
Image: Marsh Tit ©Amy Squire
We were also joined by a Firecrest, which is one of the two smallest birds in the UK. Many people get mixed up between the Goldcrest and the Firecrest, as they look basically identical in the field. However, if you can get a good view, the Firecrest is easily distinguishable from the Goldcrest by the distinctive black stripe going across its eye, and the call is a very high-pitched repetition of the same note, compared to the also high-pitched but more wavy and flowing song, from the Goldcrest. They are incredibly fidgety though, so identifying them can be a challenge… along with photographing them!
Image: Hornets and Red Admiral ©Amy Squire
Puttles Bridge is also a haven for insects, where we saw a beautiful Small Copper Butterfly and discovered an active hornet nest in the base of an oak tree. They had nested in an oak tree nearby before, but have decided to move to the other side of the stream this time. Their recent activity had caused the oak tree to leak sap. This sugary substance attracted, not only the host of hornets, but a couple of Red Admiral butterflies.
Image: Small Copper ©Amy Squire
It just shows us the pure relationship of the forest and how it is a vital source of life for so much wildlife and how everything is connected to balance and sustain itself.
You never know what you might find!