In April I walked from Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst and back in the space of two days. This post focuses on the first day walking from Brockenhurst railway station.
These are probably the New Forest’s biggest towns, with Brockenhurst being bigger than Bournemouth until the advent of the railways in the mid to late-1800s.
I’ve walked many times in the New Forest. It’s an exceptional place for ancient trees, birds and for fungi. But visiting it this time it felt like it was suffering from an absence of rain, it looked thirsty. In many of the more open landscapes it looked bare and over-grazed. On these two warm and sunny days I didn’t see a single butterfly! These are just my own observations and may not be accurate.
A trackway that leads into Roydon Woods from nearby Brockenhurst opens the door to the walk.
A disused barn with oak planks
A New Forest pony grazing
I found very little fungi. The whole Forest appeared to be exceptionally dry for the time of year. This is probably lumpy bracket.
The trackway through Roydon Woods, now fenced on all sides since I last visited in 2019.
There were a few of these flies basking in the sun. I think they are St, Mark’s flies or similar.
The sporophytes of juniper hair cap moss growing on a wood bank.
There is something quite muscular about this dead standing oak, no doubt full of life on the inside.
The arrival of birch leaves is one of my favourite sights each spring.
A close up of moss photosynthesising
I had no idea that this bracken stalk had a little insect sat atop it. That often happens with macro images.
Greater stitchwort flower
Walking along the track a bird on a stump caught my eye. I realised it was a nuthatch and managed to catch a photo of it before it flew to cover. They are usually high in the treetops. This silent bird may have been gathering food for nestlings.
The Lymington River
Primroses and celandines gathering around the mossy buttresses of an oak
Ash dieback has changed the look and feel of parts of the older woodlands around Brockenhurst. The woodland is more open and clearly depleted. Ash trunks lie as if storm ravaged. This is good conservation woodland management for fungi and deadwood invertebrates.
Wood anemones at their peak, surrounded by dogs mercury, another plant of ancient woodland
A triple decker of Ganoderma bracket fungus on the remains of a beech tree
Carvings of an owl and oak leaves made in this dead tree
Arriving on Beaulieu Heath I was baffled by the sights of what looked like chalk downland in the distance. Looking at the map it appeared to be the Isle of Wight!
One of the few fungi I found, a small bracket on a fallen branch
The first beech leaves: they can be eaten (not sure if they affect people with allergies) and also used to make gin. They are soft at first but like their oak relatives will soon toughen up.
A winding forestry trail where the landscape becomes less diverse and the understory generally thins out. This is more of a plantation landscape.
Cladionia lichens on a piece of old pine wood
Can you see the crab spider here? I was astonished. It had matched the red and green of the wood spurge it was hiding in. Crab spiders are known to be able to mimic colours of plants around them. This seemed so specific, as the spurge will not keep the reddish colour for long.
One of my favourite beech trees, encrusted in white lichens
A selection of images showing the lichen communities that can be found in some parts of the Forest.
Ferns acting as epiphytes on this heavily leaning oak tree
To finish, before arriving in Lyndhurst, a selection of beech trees and one with a massive Ganoderma bracket.
Thanks for reading.