A shorter week for me this week after taking a couple of days out at the weekend. We had a couple of lovely walks and our first organised boat trip along the Beaulieu River, together with some productive fieldwork.
The Lymington Discovery Walk on Tuesday was the first of the week - the walk started with us watching a busy flock of around 150 Redwing feeding on the lawn at Bolton’s Bench, disturbed only by a marauding female Sparrowhawk. It was a great walk discussing all aspects of forest life and management, stopping frequently to take in the view and look at wildlife, which this week included Firecrest and Oak Mazegill amongst a nice mix of fungi and flora.
One of around 150 Redwing feeding at Bolton's Bench on Tuesday
Thursday saw a small group gather at Bucklers Hard for another wonderful trip along the Beaulieu River, this time out to Lepe and back. This is a very sedate cruise taken at a gentle pace, which allows us to take in the plethora of bird life along the way. Highlights this week included 2 White-tailed Eagle, 3 Spoonbill, 12 Avocet and 2 Goosander amongst hundreds of waders and wildfowl of various species.
White-tailed Eagle along the Beaulieu River on Thursday
Friday was the regular short walk at Wilverley where we enjoyed watching a large flock of Redwing successfully worming on the lawn. Along the way we also saw a Dartford Warbler that gave a short burst of song in the sunshine atop some gorse, and picked out some very fresh Glistening Inkcap fungi. The group were especially interested in learning about forest livestock and commoning.
Russ kicked off the week’s fieldwork with the first full New Forest woodland bird survey of 2022 - this survey has been postponed from 2020 due to COVID restrictions and is a repeat of fieldwork first carried out over a decade ago. We look forward to comparing data from the previous survey; even after this first session Russ has gathered some fascinating results.
As is usual for the time of year, my week has been dominated by Hawfinch fieldwork. I have counted just three roosts this week, accounting for 62 Hawfinch. In addition, together with Helen Schneider, we are still looking at foraging behaviour, this involves tracking Hawfinch from the roost to feeding sites, mainly in holly.
One of the more impressive sights of the week was a flock of around 400 Brambing noisily gathered in a small area of Beech post roost - it continues to be an amazing winter for Brambling in the New Forest.
Little Egret at roost at Pennington on Thursday morning
Other fieldwork included a count of our local Little Egret roost as part of a Hampshire-wide survey, with 47 egrets recorded grumpily departing the roost at dawn on Thursday. I also had the opportunity to do a little Pine Marten fieldwork, a number of new clips of Pine Marten have been picked up this week in a busy corner of the forest. See the link below for a nice clip showing a Pine Marten depositing a scat on Monday evening:
Upcoming walks & talks
Our schedule for the coming week as follows:
Tue 1st Feb – Lyndhurst Discovery Walk (10am)
Fri 4th Feb – Welcome to the New Forest (Wilverley) (1pm)
Sat 5th Feb – Holm Hill and Puckpits Discovery Walk (7am)
Further details can be found on our website at www.wildnewforest.co.uk