Thursday, 16 August 2012

Return to the New Forest

LAST weekend we drove down to the New Forest for the day, to enjoy the purple heather, the towering oaks and suicidal the ponies.  This time of year is a low point for bird watchers so we have to get our kicks somewhere else - marshy bogs with biting insects and dragonflies is just the thing...and the New Forest has some amazing examples.



The landscape is a patchwork of dry heathland, lowland bogs, streams, broadleaved native woodlands, dense conifer plantations and areas that feel like parkland...its a wonderful mix.  This area is all (except for fenced off woodlands) grazed by ponies and cattle, that roam freely, along with deer and of course, rabbits. The livestock is not wild but owned by the "commoners".

Gate keepers were abundant along the open rides
Common century
We ambled round in a broadly circular route that we often follow, but the warm day slightly defeated us, as we were very weary by the time the we got back to the car.  For me the best bit was the wet flushes in the valleys, where the acid water gives rise to sphagnum covered bogs (have I mentioned the bogs???) playing host to all sorts of interesting plants, including the insect eating sundews.
Sundew

bog asphodel - last of this species in flower
bog asphodel
bog myrtle - with very fragrant leaves growing on drier patches
Small rush species

Along one of the woodland edges we came across a terrible stink - now that means one of two things - something dead or Phallus impudicus (i.e. a stinkhorn) and sure enough...there was one with flies and all...

Stinkhorn (a fungus)
Further on whilst having a little sit down in the shade a high pitched whistle caught our attention - I could not quite place it then when this flash of blue flew to the bridge in front of me I realised of course that it could only have been a kingfisher


It was a fair distance from my camera but I did manage to capture this unusual image:

This individual was hunting along a small stream fed by smaller streams.  Along the edges were an abundant array of plants and dragonflies:


A yellow bird'sfoot trefoil flower


Lesser spearwort
Water crowfoot

A great day.

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