A circular walk today in the New Forest starting and ending at Eyeworth pond.
The pond was created by the Schultze Gunpowder Company as a reservoir to hold the water needed during the manufacturing process – it is estimated it held 6 million gallons of water. Work started on the factory in 1860. By the late 1890s the Company employed upwards of 100 people and there were some 60 buildings. The factory continued in operation under new ownership until 1921. The manufacturing of explosives deep in the forest away from the local population reduced the risk to the public. Today the reservoir remains although the factory has gone, it remains as a feature and wildlife habitat. Little other evidence of the factory survives, although the superintendent’s and gatekeeper’s houses remain and are private residences.
Birds. on the pond.
2 female Goosanders were on the far side of the pond ( I have seen males here as well in the past but not today). Goosanders are diving duck, they have long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. They 1st bred in the UK in 1871. ( These ducks are known as Common Merganser in the USA).
Mandarin ducks have for many years been a regular bird on Eyeworth pond. They always draw a crowd, they were introduced to the UK from China in the 20th century and have become established following escapes from captive collections. In the UK there are now said to be about 2,300 pairs and according to Wikipedia the population in China is only 1000 pairs.
Woodland Birds. around the pond.
A woodland favourite is the Blue Tit.
Dunnocks are also known as the ‘hedge sparrow’, although they are not actually a sparrow. They’re actually the only UK member of a bird family called the accentors. The dunnock is also commonly mistaken for a female house sparrow. Dunnock is derived from the Old English word for ‘little brown’. This is because they do look drab from a distance but close up they are quite pretty with a mottled blue-grey breast and face.
Fallow deer are the most commonly seen deer in the New Forest currently numbers are maintained at about 1,300 Following the Norman Conquest of Britan ,the New Forest was proclaimed a royal forest, in about 1079, by William the Conqueror. Fallow deer were brought into the forest for the hunt. Forest Law, reserving the pursuit of beasts within it exclusively for the king and his officers.
One of our trail cameras gave some good views this week. Uploaded on the below clip – it is a long clip but worth the watch if you have a spare 1/2hour to watch nature on your computer. A Robin also pops in.
Some great deer spotting today 3 young Roebuck allowed us to approach and pass where they were resting. Each deer had different sized antlers and it was good to see them “in velvet”. I am sure our local deer know us and tolerate us walking in their habitat they quietly watch us pass I am sure they are thinking “it’s those chaps with cameras again stand still and they will walk past”.
The appearance of Roe deer changes throughout the year. They have a bright red-brown fur in summer, fading to a duller shade of brown in winter which is how they appear at the moment. These deer looked strong and healthy despite it being the end of the winter.
A return visit to Stoney Cross airfield to try and take some pictures of the remaining parts of the aerodrome. Parts of the aircraft dispersal hardstandings were not removed when the runways were broken up and are now used as a campsite as we are in the winter months it was a good time to take pictures without holidaymakers on site. Below is a view from above shoving the remaining structures.
From ground level, it is hard to believe what was parked up on these concrete bases back in WW2 – Bombers and fighters of the RAF and USAF and thoughts are for those who failed to return following actions in the skies above Europe.
Flocks of Redwings were feeding on the site of the old runways.
(Part 2 Birdwatching). More from a walk today from Warsash up the river Hamble to Bursledon. Today’s birdwatching observations on a rather dark and gloomy day
Brent Goose. These small geese are a similar size to a mallard. They have a black head and neck and greyish back, with either a pale or dark belly, depending on the race, most of the birds I see. local to me have a dark belly. I always find them difficult to get a decent photograph of them due to their dark colour on the mud, their eyes seem to disappear! I was quite pleased with these 2 shots despite the dull conditions.
A Meadow Pipit.
Little Egret. This bird was fishing alongside the footpath.
Many of the birds were a long way off on the mud, a large flock of Dunlin a couple of Shelduck and some gulls.
As the mature Oak was used much of the larger wooden shipbuilders relocated to the New Forest.
Warsash to Hamble ferry shelter. In the winter the passenger ferry only runs on weekends the shelters on each side of the river as well as the ferry are painted pink. You can see the boat coming!
As you walk along the river you pass many hulks and wrecks.
Many years ago I remember doing this walk when you had to pick your time to do it – making sure the tide was not too high as there were places where stepping stones were needed to be used to cross places where the water flowed into the marshes at the edge of the river. Now bridges ensure it is an easy walk for all.
Even a coffee break is now possible which many dog walkers were making use of.
Old bouys, and boat storage.
Artwork “bullrush” statues.
At the end of the walk is the old hamlet of Burseldon by the river it is a conservation area. There is a row of tiny cottages much extended at their rears – in the Napoleonic Wars with France, these were shipwright cottages.
The Blackbird is also known as the Eurasian blackbird in North America, in order to distinguish it from the unrelated New World blackbirds, here in the UK we just call it a Blackbird. They are a member of the Thrush family.
Adult male blackbirds have black plumage and, during the breeding season, they have both a yellow eye-ring and bill. Out of the breeding season, the male may have a dull bill and no eye-ring. Females are brown, often with a paler throat patch.
An early start in the New Forest with breakfast in the van before a frosty walk on the remains of Stoney Cross airfield.
Stoney Cross airfield was one of the larger wartime airfields within the forest. It was active between 1943 to 1946, It remained open after the war until it closed in 1948.
Stoney cross had three runways with the main runway, 2,000 yards (1829 metres) long. The second runway, was 1520 yards (1390 metres) and the shortest runway, at 1366 yards (1249 metres) long.
Sadly most of the concrete had been stripped from the runways by 2000 and used as hardcore in road construction. The outline of the runways can still be seen in places as well as remains of other concrete bases.
Parking at Cadmans Pool as a starting point to head off on foot across the site of the old airfield on Ocknell Plain. Apparently, the pond was dug around 1960 to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the plain.
On arriving today the pond was iced over at the temperature was -4, so a cold start.
A group of Fallow Deer strolling on the plain. There were some fairly handsome stags in this herd.
As usual, the trees around Cadmans Pool is a great place to observe and photograph small woodland birds.
A short walk at Danebury Ring Hillfort this morning. (location near Stockbridge Hampshire.) An Iron age hill with evidence suggesting that the Fort was built 2500 years ago and occupied for nearly 500 years until the arrival of the Romans in Britain.
Today a plateau at the top of the hill remains it was once the site of a settlement that was surrounded by ditches and earth banks. The bank had a wooded defensive fence on its top.
The chalk hillside habitat needs to be managed to prevent it from being swamped by shrub. Here at Danebury Highland Cattle maintain the grassland.
Highland Cattle may look fierce but they are a gentle breed.