Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Brilliant Day in the New Forest

Meeting Jackie and the group at nine o’clock we headed off across the heath looking for the usual species of this southern habitat.  They didn’t disappoint first a group of Meadow Pipit flew over then it was a family of Stonechat the male being followed around by a Dartford Warbler and we had glimpses of one or two Redstart.  Our walk took across the open heath and across wet bog, here we found Bog Asphodel in flower and the Bog Myrtle scent wafted in the breeze.  Also Willow Warbler, Lapwing, Starling, a high flying Siskin over and a Grey Heron stood out in the bog.  A few damsel and dragonflies were also found as well as several butterflies species and a single Marsh Orchid.


Grey Heron stood out in the bog
On reaching the edge of the wood we started picking up Chaffinches, then a Green Woodpecker ‘Yaffled’ and we saw one or two Redstarts and our first Spotted Flycatcher of the walk.  Further on, now along the edge of the woodland, with more views of Redstarts and another Spotted Flycatcher.  It was about this point in our walk that I caught sight of two birds flying out from over the wood the first was a corvid the second a Buzzard but something about its ‘jizz’ made take a longer look.  It turned slightly and then went into a soar and at this point I realised its identity, a male Honey Buzzard small head, long tail and heavy barring.  It looked like it was going to come towards us but then changed its mind and climbed higher circling.  Then it put in a few slow butterfly like flaps of the wings then clapped its wing above its body in territorial display and it continued to do this for some minutes before it was lost to view as it flew back over the wood.  What a fantastic sight for the group to be able to witness.


A very cropped shot of the Displaying Honey Buzzard
As we started our return walk we picked up many more of the woodland species  a family of Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great and Blue Tits and a single Marsh Tit.  A Silver-washed Fritillary glided by giving us very brief views, another family party of Redstarts, and Spotted Flycatchers were seen. Jackie found a skull of a bird which we first thought was of a buzzard but we finally realised it was of a Tawny Owl.  Next there was a yellow fungus which Mick identified as Chicken of the Wood, apparently it is edible but has little taste but has the texture of chicken hence its name.  The last stretch to the car park added Bullfinch but only heard it, another pair of Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart.  Butterflies included Silver-studded Blue, Gatekeepers, Meadow Brown, Small White, Large Skipper and one Silver-washed Fritillary. 

Emperor Dragonfly one of the species seen on our walk
We finished at lunch time with the satisfaction of knowing that it isn’t every day that you see displaying Honey Buzzard almost overhead.