Wednesday 20 May – New Forest

 A total of seven people congregated in the Ashley Walk car park ready to explore a small corner of the New Forest and, hopefully, catch up with some of the speciality birds to be found there. Our walk took us through a variety of habitats – woodland, heathland, river valley and forest ‘lawns’ – giving us every chance of finding some of them. Indeed, we hadn’t been going long before we encountered the first of many Stonechats and Linnets – they are clearly doing very well here! A little further and Jane alerted us to a Redstart singing nearby. This smart individual gave us all wonderful views – eventually! By now we were up on an area of open heathland and our only Lark of the day gave us distant views. However, the rather long tail ruled out the Woodlark we had hoped to find – so we made do with Skylark. Continuing along the path we entered a wooded area where many of the common woodland species were showing including Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Goldcrest, various finches and, high up on one of the trees, a Spotted Flycatcher – a rare treat. Heading on towards our lunch spot a Tree Pipit gave good views. Lunch was taken in an area that ‘looked good’ for Dartford Warbler, but with the exception of more Stonechats, Linnets and a fly by Cuckoo there appeared to be no sign of them. However, as we were finishing lunch one of these gorgeous birds popped up onto some gorse at a bit of a distance. At this stage not everyone had seen it, so we headed towards the area where it had last been seen and were lucky enough to find a couple of them reasonably close giving sensational views. Having looked at them, we moved swiftly on to ensure we didn’t disturb them as it looked like they were a breeding pair. Although we may not have seen everything we might have hoped for, everyone was well pleased with a great days birding. Many thanks to Jane Cumming for her excellent leadership and ID skills!  Dave Horlick