Russ and Marcus write:
The weather during January was dominated by a mild westerly airflow, which meant that the mean temperature was about 2oC above long-term levels, and there were few frosts. Sunshine and rainfall levels were about average, but the forest remained wet underfoot following high rainfall in autumn 2019. It was a windy month, culminating in Storm Brendan that swept across the New Forest on 13-14 Jan, with winds reaching 82 mph at the nearby Needles Headland on the Isle of Wight.
In terms of our “2020 in 2020” challenge (an attempt to find 2020 species in the New Forest National Park in 2020), the WNF species total for January was about 216, comfortably ahead of our projected target of 168. As expected, this mostly comprised birds, trees and plants, with few insects or fungi evident in mid-winter (although the Nail Fungus pictured below was a notable exception). This total was achieved with a combined total of about 115 field-hours between the two of us.
Marcus focussed most of his January effort on the Hawfinch project that he co-ordinates, remarkably seeing the species on 26 out of 31 dates (the missing five were due to work commitments)! He recorded nearly 450 Hawfinches at 24 monitored roost sites, and colour-ringed six new birds (including that pictured below). He also recorded a notable 93 bird species at the coast on New Year’s Day, and regularly monitored the roost at Lymington Reedbed, which held a couple of Marsh Harriers and up to 150 Pied Wagtails and 350 Starlings.
January highlights for Russ included his first sighting of a Goshawk successfully catching prey (an unfortunate Woodpigeon), photographing Great White Egret and Great Grey Shrike, finding a Portuguese Man O’War at Hurst Beach in the aftermath of Storm Brendan (pic below), and getting his garden pond dug and ready for action!
We also went nocturnal Woodcock ringing with colleagues, and at the end of the month launched our revamped WNF website and daily blog at the New Forest Water Forum, where Russ presented an overview of our ongoing Curlew project (pic below).
WNF are committed to minimising car-based travel when undertaking fieldwork and other relevant activities in the New Forest, and will publish a monthly statement for those Directors undertaking WNF activities on a full-time basis: During January, Russ put in about 45 field-hours and covered 405 km on WNF activities, with 60% of this distance achieved by walking and cycling, 25% by car, and 15% by train.