There are spaces available for our September Field Trip, organised by Julia Willcock, your editor. Guests are very welcome for £2 per ticket. Members and under 21s are free. If you'd like to join us, please use the Contact form or the new email address which Andrew (controller of the lists) and other members of the committee can access, as requested in the monthly TDNHS newsletters. Unfortunately we can no longer publish that email address in our blogs because we're attracting Spam!
Keith Lea is guiding us around a section of Savernake Forest and we shall be learning about the veteran trees and biodiversity of this Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) which boasts more than a thousand years of history as a forest.
Keith has over 30 years' consultancy experience in woodland management, with the overall aim of his work being to improve woodland biodiversity. He is the Vice-Chairman of The Salisbury and District Natural History Society and says "I have been a birdwatcher for over 40 years and have a keen interest in butterflies and native flora. I enjoy leading natural history walks and sharing my knowledge with others."
Special instructions: No dogs. Please note that the forest is grazed by cattle which may be near us at times on our outing. Bring binoculars if you have them.
Meet at the Nadder Centre car park at 9:00am on Sat 30 Sept or roughly one hour later at the Burbage petrol station, SN8 3AR at the junction of the A338/A346/B3087. There are parking bays at the garage or by the side of the B3087. We shall gather there and Keith will lead us in convoy to the parking area on the Grand Avenue, within the forest.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear - Under 3 miles with plenty of stops before lunch and there will be a short (5 minutes) drive after lunch for the optional afternoon walk of under 2 miles. The terrain is generally flat with gravel or hard tracks. Some minor pathways can be muddy and slippery underfoot. There are a few inclines, but they are relatively short. Hiking boots should be fine, rather than wellies, although it always worth packing them. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
This is a reminder for those already signed up for Debbie Carter's Field Trip on Wednesday 16th August to visit the beavers' habitat on the River Frome. This trip is fully booked and we are operating a waiting list for a space, so if you can no longer make it, please get in touch via the Contact form.
We will be met by local wildlife expert Eve Tigwell who will guide us to the nearby nature reserve to see the impact beavers are having and in the hope of seeing beavers. No dogs.
Meet at the Nadder Centre car park at 7:30pm or at the Asda Shopping Centre car park on Castle Road BA11 5LA just off the A362, roughly an hour later.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear - We have no knowledge of the distance we shall cover, nor the state of the paths, so stout footwear or boots are recommended.
We shall start the walk at dusk and continue into darkness, so a good torch is advised.
At the start of our visit at Ryewater Nursery in June we were allowed into the tropical butterflies breeding room, door closed to prevent any escapees, where Ed Whittingham explained the breeding life cycles of these beautiful exotic butterflies as they whirled around us amongst their favourite food plants. These butterflies are specially bred for butterfly world garden centres around the country and so it was fascinating to see them at this early stage. Uniquely the population of butterflies in the greenhouse are self-sustaining.
Under construction is a lake which will become a reedbed for warblers. It has a raised plank path 'sweetway' leading to and from a reed-roofed building housing a 6,000 year old bog oak sculpture.
Ryewater is a stunning haven for wildlife, not open to the public, unless for small groups by pre-arrangement and their full time ecologist Wren Franklin showed us round. Areas for ecological nurturing such as a pond with protective hedgerows for great crested newts and a rounded, ancient looking cool house to encourage nesting bats were complemented by large sculptures and artfully designed structures embedded into the landscape. Here was a land that was bursting at the seams with wildflowers and habitats for wildlife, to protect their way of life with a creative passion that was so unusual to see. We felt very fortunate to have spent half a day there.
We were very fortunate with our visit to Martin Down and Vernditch Chase. Sunshine and dry weather with only a light breeze were ideal condition for seeking out butterflies and not only did we see a long list of species, we saw many of them in good numbers.
Once we had achieved a safe crossing of the A354, we were soon amongst the butterflies, especially Gatekeepers, which were nectaring on the brambles in the sheltered track heading north towards the old Roman Road. The latter was covered with flowers which were attracting Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites.
Following the track through the banks of scrub we found further areas with rich herb floras and plenty more butterflies. As well as the brambles, thistles, scabious and ragwort were favoured by the butterflies but some of the more exciting species, such as Dark Green Fritillaries and White Admirals were much more mobile but still relatively easily viewed.
After a lunch break on a very pleasant sunny bank overlooking a swathe of flowers, we pressed on into the woodlands proper of Vernditch Chase in search of the last few target species. We eventually were lucky enough to find one large, sheltered bramble clump in full sun and here had good views of the handsome Silver Washed Fritillary as well as Large Skippers which had until then eluded us.
Our final butterfly species list for the outing was:
On Wednesday 19th July a group of 13 people set off at dusk from the Turf Hill car park in the New Forest near Woodfalls on a beautiful, still night to listen for churring Nightjars.
After about an hour, when the sun had gone down, a distant churring was heard, followed by another in a different direction.
In all some people heard three different Nightjars and one was seen flying from a stand of trees to another tree. It would have been lovely to hear them closer but it was a surreal experience enjoyed by all.
Debbie Carter has organised this trip to hear Nightjars in the New Forest. If you've not yet signed up, please let us know by the email* mentioned in Dick's monthly newsletter or use the Contact form. The committee have access to this gmail account, so please use it because we're trying to ease Dick's Treasurer admin workload!
[*Editor: I have removed the precise details of this email because we have begun to receive Spam on the account.]
Meet at the Nadder Centre, Weaveland Road car park to set out at 7:45pm or at the Turf Hill car park ( OS Grid reference SU 212 176) just west of the B3080 at Hale Purlieu, Fordingbridge SP6 2NT at approximately 8:30pm. No dogs.
Editor's Note: Please note the meeting time is earlier than the Field Trip Details pdf which was uploaded in April. An updated version will be put on the website.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear: we shall be walking from the car park for about ½ mile, 15-20 minutes or so. This is easy walking on a rough but level gravel track to where the Nightjars are in the trees near a row of pylons. As we shall be starting at dusk and returning to cars in the dark, you need to bring with you a good torch.
Come and join us on Sunday 9th July for a stroll through Vernditch Woods and across Martin Down National Nature Reserve with the knowledgeable butterfly enthusiast Andrew Graham. Please send a message via the Contact form.
If weather permits, the focus will be on butterflies but there will be ample opportunity to look at the flora as well. No dogs.
Meet at the Nadder Centre car park at 11:00am or at the Martin Down car park, SP5 5RQ beside the A354, at roughly 12:00pm.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear. Approximately 4km/2.5 miles on flat, mainly grassed, paths and tracks. Stout shoes should suffice unless wet. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
There are still a few spaces for this trip organised by Peter Shallcross. Please use the Contact form if you'd like to come. Ryewater Nursery is privately owned and not open to the public, so this is a wonderful opportunity to visit Clive Farrell's creatively designed wildlife haven.
Meet at Nadder Centre car park ready for departure at 9:30am on Fri 23 June or at the Ryewater Nursery DT9 5PL, at roughly 10:30am. Note, Ryewater Nursery is on the east side of Broke Lane, approximately 7km/4.5 miles south of Sherborne. The postcode is shared with Ryewater Farm that is on the other side of Broke Lane.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear. Approximately 4km/2.5 miles on flat, paths and tracks. Stout shoes should suffice unless wet. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
The focus will be on butterflies but there will be ample opportunity to look at the varied habitats of this former nursery, now managed for conservation, with a butterfly house and gardens of around 20 acres. No dogs.
Meet at the Nadder Centre car park on Sat 3rd June at 10.30am or approximately 1 hour 15 minutes later at the Westhay Moor Reserve BA6 9TX. The car park is at OS ST 456 437, just north of the junction between Westhay Moor Drove and Dagg’s Lane Drove, between the villages of Westhay and Godney.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear: Approximately 5 km/3 miles on flat gravel paths which may be a bit muddy if there has been recent rain. Good stout shoes should suffice rather than wellingtons. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
This Field Trip has limited numbers. There may still be places if you've not yet signed up and want to come. Equally please let us know if you're on the list, but can no longer make the date. We are now using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org for organising lists for events, so please contact us there.
Photo: Avocets (Izzy Fry)
The headers display photos taken by our members. Do get in touch via the Contact Form if you'd like to submit a photo for selection.