Trip report: New Forest (22 June 2013)

As eleven walkers mustered at the Ashley Walk Car Park, two members wandered down the slope and got off to a great start with fleeting glimpses of a female Montagu’s Harrier! As we set off, we had high hopes of seeing Dartford Warblers, Woodlark and possibly Honey Buzzard. Early sightings included Stonechat, Linnets, a good number of Mistle Thrushes, and a very young Blue Tit which floated by and flopped to the ground. A calling Cuckoo was heard as we reached a small wooded area which revealed a number of Redstarts, including a youngster. There was then an opportunity to compare the songs of Blackcap and Garden Warbler as they conveniently sang on either side of the path. Even so, discussion ensued as to which was which. As we made our way, other songsters included Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Wren, but the next highlight was a beautifully performing Tree Pipit which gave great views of its parachuting song flight. Just before our lunch stop we came across an active Great Spotted Woodpecker’s nest, and two or three Siskins flitted around here too. As we ate our sandwiches beside a stream we were entertained by more Redstarts, and some Great Tits which were picking at ant hill mounds. A few Stock Doves put in an appearance, including one that called close by. Unfortunately, Woodlark and Honey Buzzard remained elusive, probably not helped by what turned out to be a showery and breezy day, though one back marker did catch sight of a Dartford Warbler. The two who had started with the Harrier got lucky again near the end with a brief Spotted Flycatcher. There were sightings of some Roe Deer and a couple of Fallow Deer also turned up. We finished off by trying for the Montagu’s Harrier along the road at Black Gutter Bottom, but with no luck. Our total of species seen and/or heard was 36. Many thanks to Jane for leading such an enjoyable day.