As you are all probably aware I was 'off-pach' and away for 5 days last week. I went camping down the New Forest with one of my mates who, although not a birder, enjoys the outdoors. Much walking, drinking and talking saftness was done. The New Forest is a wonderfully varied area that has woodland, heaths, lawns and bogs. It is also fairly close the coastal marshes of Keyhaven and Pennington. Anyway, below is a summary of the wildlife seen during this break.
Monday 25th July
After pitching the tent up at Ashurst Campsite we took the opportunity to sit in the sunshine with a nice cold bottle of beer. 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen flitting around the edge of the campsite. A number of juvenile Nuthatch were present at the site. We then walked through Ashurst Wood where we picked up Spotted Flycatcher and over to Matley Heath. Not long after stopping for a sit down (on a handy tree stump) did we see the first of the areas speciality birds, a stunning Honey Buzzard that flew over from Matley Wood towards Ashurst. After a while we headed back to the campsite....beer and BBQ were calling!
Tuesday 26th July
Today saw us undertaking a coastal walk from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle. Walking along the shingle spit gave great views over the adjacent salt marsh. Notable birds seen here included - 3 Sandwich Tern, 1 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Turnstone, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Redshank, 1 Curlew, 10+ Oystercatchers, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and 4 Little Egrets. An adult Gannet was seen out over The Solent and 3 Rock Pipits were seen near Hurst Castle. There were also some rather interesting plants seen including Yellow Horned Poppy, Golden Samphire and Hare's Foot Trefoil.
We were back at the site mid afternoon so we decided to do another walk over the heath. During this walk we saw 4 Fallow Deer, 5 Stonechat (2m, 2f and 1 juv), 2 Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit that flew over calling.
Later that evening we undertook a slightly wobbled Glow Worm walk in Ashurst Wood. We did manage to see one of these incredible insects, I took some very shaky beered up photos and my mate fell in a ditch...ha!
Wednesday 27th July
Today we undertook a walk from Ashurst across the Heath to the pub at Beaulieu Road Station (approx 3 miles). During the walk there I saw a Hobby hawking over the Heath and a m Stonechat. It was a good walk for butterflies with good numbers of Grayling seen. Disappointingly, only a single Silver-studded Blue was seen. After a bite to eat and a few pints of real ale it was time to make the return journey. This was also productive with us hearing and seeing 2 Woodlarks.
A Woodcock was seen roding over Ashurst campsite at 9.10pm.
Thursday 28th July
Today we undertook a walk from Beaulieu Road Station over Shatterford to Denny Lodge and back. This area is usually good for Dartford Warbler but disappointingly there was no sign. It was however a good walk for insects(especially around the bogs/pools) with a couple of the speciality species, Small Red Damselfly and Southern Damselfly, seen. Also recorded were Keeled Skimmer, Ruddy Darter and Broad-bodied Chaser. Good numbers of Silver-studded Blue were also present today. In one of the pools there was a Marsh Frog (a recent introduction to the UK that is spreading up from the South East). Near Denny Wood there was a f Common Redstart and a juvenile Spotted Fycatcher.
After finishing this walk we popped a few miles up the road to Starpole Pond. I was shocked when we got there as this renowned pool for dragonflies had all but dried out. There was just a muddy pool of about 10ft by 6ft left. The only dragonflies present were 2 Emperor Dragonflies and a Keeled Skimmer. There were a few Silver-Studded Blues flitting over the surrounding heather and 2 Common Redstarts (1f & 1 juv) were nearby.
That pretty much sums up the wildlife side of the holiday other than the moths. I ran the moth trap for 2 nights (although rain put pay to one!). There were a few interesting species caught including 1 Rosy Footman, 2 Yellow-tailed Moths, 1 Scalloped Hook-tip, 1 Dingy Footman and 2 Eilema Footman agg. (either Common or Scarce I'm not sure).
So there you have it...below are a selection of photos from the trip.
Rock Pipit - Hurst Castle
Oystercatcher - Keyhaven Marsh
Yellow Horned Poppy - Keyhaven
Grayling - Matley Heath
Sundew - Matley Heath
Small Red Damselfly - Shatterford
Marsh Frog - Shatterford
Silver-studded Blue - Starpole Pond
Yellow-tailed Moth - Ashurst
Scalloped Hook-tip - Ashurst
And finally, proof that taking photos whilst wearing beer goggles doesnt always pay....here's my attempt at a Glow Worm ...ahem!