Visitors are very welcome on all meetings.
A donation of £4 per non-member would be appreciated.
Junior members are always welcome but MUST be accompanied by an adult.
If any of the leaders is unable to be present, every effort will be made
to find a substitute.
· Dogs are not permitted.
In exceptionally severe or dangerous weather conditions, please assume that the meeting is cancelled.
The times and heights of high water (as at Chichester Harbour entrance) are given for coastal bird meetings
**** Our provisional programme follows, but in view of the present pandemic, please check this site or our Facebook page to ensure meetings have not been cancelled ****
Saturday 18th 10.30
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Butterflies at Oaken Wood (Butterfly Conservation), near Plaistow
Leader: Phil Darley (HNHS member)
Oaken Wood is Butterfly Conservation's only reserve in Surrey. On-going conservation work has improved habitats for butterflies and hopefully the Wood White will be found. Phil undertakes a weekly Transect Count. A morning walk.
Directions: From Chiddingfold take minor road Fisher Lane. After entrance to Tugley Wood (on L) continue for ½ mile and park under barrier on R
Saturday 25th 10.30
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Leaders: Jean Hicks & Murray Marr (Friends of Midhurst Common)
A morning walk through this unusual and interesting Common, hearing about its history, whilst looking at the fauna and flora.
Directions: Take A286 to centre of Midhurst, turning R at roundabout onto A272 (Petersfield road). Take 3rd turning on L, Carron Lane, signposted to Cemetery. Continue along this road until children's playground on L. with car park
Wednesday 5th 10.30
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Halnaker Windmill and the tunnel of trees
Leaders: Margaret Hibbard and Margaret Tomsett (HNHS members)
A gentle uphill walk through fields, hazel coppice and past vineyard to Grade 2 listed Windmill, with a 360° view. Stop to look for raptors and optional own packed lunch then descend to the tunnel of trees. Return to cars via same footpath.
Directions: Half a mile north from Halnaker village on A285, park in lay-by.
10.30 Grid Reference
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Reptiles on Ambersham Common (Natural England)
Leader: Paul Stevens (Sussex Amphibian & Reptile Group Committee member)
A morning walk over the Common to hear about the habitat needed to encourage reptiles. Hopefully Smooth Snakes and other species will be found.
Directions: From Petworth take A 272 towards Midhurst. At Halfway Bridge turn L towards Selham. Take minor road on R into Selham Lane. At junction turn R into New Road and look for car park.
Saturday 19th 08.
30 Grid Reference
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Early Autumn Bird Migration on Black Down (National Trust)
Leader: Dave Burges
Dave reports regularly to HNHS Sightings page from Black Down where in autumn many hundreds of birds are seen on their migration routes. An early morning walk.
Directions: From Haslemere, at end of Tennyson's Lane, on bend by entrance to Aldworth House, turn R down to car park.
Saturday 10th 14.30
(Note: a Saturday walk) Grid Reference
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Fungi Foray at Older Hill (National Trust) near Fernhurst
Leader: Sara Shepley (HNHS member)
Sara’s extensive knowledge of fungi with interesting anecdotes is always appreciated.
Directions: Take A286 from Haslemere to Fernhurst. Turn R at crossroads. After approx 2½ miles at T junction turn L and after ½ mile turn L signed Woolbeding, Midhurst and Redford). After approx 1½ miles look for sign on L to Older Hill. Turn L into narrow lane. Go uphill for approx ½ mile to National Trust car park on R.
10.30 Grid reference
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A morning in Petworth Deer Park (National Trust)
Leader: Head Keeper (tbc)
For the first hour we will meet with the Head Keeper, who will give us an insight into keeping their large herd of Fallow Deer. We will then look at other fauna and flora.
Directions: Use Deer Park car park entrance on A286 3½ miles south of Northchapel (1½ miles north of Petworth). Pay and display unless NT member.
10.30 Grid reference
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Birds at Ferry Pool, Sidlesham and Church Norton.
Leaders: Phil Darley & Douglas Maughan (HNHS members)
This area attracts a wide variety of geese, ducks and waders. After looking at birds at Ferry Pool, the walk will proceed along the sea wall to shingle, salt marsh and mud flats on route to Church Norton (weather permitting). Approx 1½ miles + return) Carry lunch.
Directions: Meet at Visitor Centre car park 1½ miles south of Sidlesham on B2145.
10.30 Grid reference
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Winter Birds at Frensham Great Pond (managed by Waverley Borough Council)
Leader: Sue Bradford (HNHS member)
A morning walk around the Pond looking for birds that gather here in winter. In 2019 a Great Grey Shrike, Black Tern and Osprey were seen.
Directions: Take A287 to Frensham, turn L into Bacon Lane. Car park is on L at Visitor Centre.
REPORTS OF RECENT
(Click underlined links for photos taken on the day)
Winter birds at Cutt Mill, nr Elstead
Leader: Steve Wattridge (HNHS Member)
In grey conditions birds were few. On The Tarn were two mute swans, a pair of tufted duck, mallards, a greylag goose, a moorhen, a coot, a pair of great crested grebe (beginning their courtship display) and at the end of the walk both a female and male goosander. A cormorant perched in an alder tree and long-tailed tits, goldcrests and a tree creeper were identified.
Birds at Pulborough Brooks (RSPB)
Following the wetland trail, passing large stretches of open water and water meadows, 20 members were delighted at the large numbers of lapwing seen in the air and grazing at three pools. Pintail, teal, wigeon, and shoveler were seen amongst other more common species. Pairs of snipe were seen at Winpenny Hide and Nettleys Hide, causing great excitement, with an excellent view through the Society’s ’scope. A pair of peregrines, a short-eared owl, a buzzard and a kestrel were also seen.
Click for full species list
Birds at Farlington Marshes (Hampshire Wildlife Trust)
Leader: Sue Bradford (HNHS Member)
The tide was receding as 14 members met.
From the sea wall, adjacent to Langstone Harbour, a great crested grebe, three oyster-catchers and 15 or so avocets were seen.
In a large pool in the grassland six pintails were swimming alongside Brent geese. Two birds of prey were spotted perching on posts; later confirmed to be buzzards.
A member, who has a reputation for finding snipe, actually located two and by watching the reeds, patience was rewarded when more than 10 fast-flitting bearded reedlings were counted.
As more mud was uncovered at the southern end large numbers of dunlin were busy probing with a ringed plover.
The estimation of birds seen was: 10 species associated with land and 34 species associated with water.
Solar Boat Trip (West) Itchenor: Birdwatching
(Chichester Harbour Conservancy)
For a November morning’s bird watching, the weather could not have been better.
The tide was nearly at its peak as the boat’s silent progress enabled 24 members to have close views of four little grebe, frequent sights of curlew, oystercatcher, redshank, bar-tailed godwit, shelduck, lapwing and cormorant.
As the boat passed Cobnor Point, Stake and Pilsey Islands and along the Thorney Channel, in addition to groups of teal and turnstone there were pairs of great crested grebe, red-breasted merganser and eider duck.
Memorable sights were: a red admiral (possibly flying southwards to cross the English Channel), a common seal, a peregrine perching motionless on a post and, alerted by the flight of a large flock of dunlin, a second peregrine, fast flying.
An Introduction to Bush Craft
Leader: Jon Taylor (HNHS member)
The topic was presented to 15 members and made for a very interesting morning. Bushcraft is using the land’s natural products to provide shelter, food, water and fire in order to survive.
Walking through woodland and meadow Jon gave details of useful finds and methods. For example, for food: edible are: comfrey, nettle and hazel leaves elder berries, blackberries and nuts of hazel, sweet chestnut and walnut. Rabbit holes could be snared. Water is essential to life and stream water can be filtered using mosses with a birch bark funnel or with a filter of ferns on a charcoal or ash base. Fire (for cooking and warmth) can be started with shredded honeysuckle bark and from embers obtained by blowing on black King Alfred’s cakes, also known as cramp balls.
Members enjoyed a new skill - using “fire-steels” to make sparks which falling on cotton wool produced a flame. They certainly agreed with Jon’s comment: “Bushcraft is a fun way to interact with the countryside.”
Fungi Foray on Marley Common (National Trust)
Leader: Sara Shepley (HNHS Member)
Conditions seemed promising, 39 species were recorded and there were some good finds: many intensely-coloured amethyst deceivers, the less common scurfy deceiver and hare’s foot Inkcaps growing on a nest of wood ants.
With her expertise Sara was able to distinguish between the bonnets, yellowleg, milking and the uncommon pinkedge; and between the rare fool’s webcap (deadly poisonous) and chanterelle which is edible.
Graffham Common (Sussex Wildlife Trust)
Leader: Jane Willmott (Living Landscapes Officer, Sussex Wildlife Trust)
14 members met for a guided walk and talk around this ancient heathland, which was a new location for the Society.
Jane explained the history of the Common before the Trust purchased it in 2010 as a pine plantation. Since then they have gradually been restoring it to heath and heath-pasture by removal of pine and rhododendron and scraping back the pine and litter layer.
Originally an SSSI it was not redesignated in 1981 and the Trust hopes to regain this status.
With local support the common has been fenced off to allow for grazing using British white and British white cross cattle.
In an exposed sandy area members were delighted to come across several groups of busy mining bees. A member spotted two bees clearly having a fight! It seemed that there was more than one species of bee in the mix.
Other notable species sighted were: hobby, kestrel, ruddy darter, 7-spot ladybird, dung or dor beetle, female bog bush cricket, male brimstone, red admiral, comma, scaly earthballs and sulphur tufts.
A walk up onto Gallows Hill revealed splendid views across to Petworth House.
Leader: Matt Bramich
16 members met in a garden on a dry, but cool evening.
Matt had set up a moth trap in a woody area of the garden, whilst member Andy Swan set his trap up near a flower border outside the house. There were also wine ropes (soaked in a mixture of red wine and sugar) as not all moths are attracted to light.
15 different species came to the moth traps, including 2 brimstones, oak lutestring, several yellow underwings and a snout, but the prize of the evening was a Clifden nonpareil, sometimes called a blue underwing. Not often seen, it was the star of the evening.
Bats at Frensham Little Pond (National Trust)
Leader: Martyn Phillis (HNHS Member)
A warm still evening brought out the soprano pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus early, and they put on a good display on the west side of the pond. One male was seen emitting social calls, trying to attract females into one of the bat boxes on the Scots pines.
Distant noctule bat Nyctalus noctula calls were heard, but they failed to visit the pond this time and none were seen.
On the east of the pond, common pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus outnumbered sopranos, and two calls of brown long-eared bats Plecotus auritus were detected – unusual as they call very quietly and are easily missed.
Despite favourable conditions and many insects over the water, there were very few Daubenton’s bats Myotis daubentonii to be seen at the end of the walk. However, one or two did perform extremely well, skimming the water close to us, dipping periodically to seize their prey from the surface of the pond.
The many visitors who attended the meeting seemed to have enjoyed the walk enormously, and all went home happy.
Halnaker Windmill and tunnel of trees (West Sussex County Council)
Leader: Peter Hogan (Countryside Ranger: West Sussex County Council)
This meeting was sadly cancelled on account of heavy rain and high winds.
Kingley Vale (Natural England) North of Chichester
Leader: Helen Beal (Reserve Volunteer Warden)
23 members were led through the ancient yew forest (considered the finest in Europe) and Helen pointed out how some of the very old trees have spread by a natural process of layering. For management of the chalk hillsides a mainly “hands off” approach is used with grazing from Belted Galloways and Herdwick sheep.
The hillside was a mosaic of pink, mauve, blue and yellow flowers with over 30 species identified. From the summit of Bow Hill with the ancient tumuli, far-reaching vistas were enjoyed and frog orchids were found on the clay cap.
The afternoon sunshine brought out 14 species of butterfly, including chalkhill blue, brown argus and several painted lady.
Click for species list.
Butterflies at Levin Down, Singleton (Sussex Wildlife Trust)
Leader: Margaret Hibbard (HNHS Member)
The weather conditions (cool, often grey with a short shower) were disappointing for finding large numbers of summer butterflies on Levin Down, which is managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust. Ten species were seen, including marbled white, common blue males and a probably newly-emerged pristine red admiral.
However, the 12 members (led by member Margaret Hibbard) were amazed at the variety of plants and the flowers were stunning.
Click for species list.
A safari tour at Knepp Castle Estate Wildland Project, nr Shipley, West Sussex
Leader: Rina Quinlan, a terrestrial ecologist and wildlife guide specialising in megafauna
13 members visited on a sunny day for a safari experience on this land that was once was an intensively farmed business, but now left for nature to take its course, with a little help from introduced species such a long horn cattle, Tamworth pigs, Exmoor ponies, fallow and red deer. Purple emperor and purple hairstreak butterflies were abundance. A beautiful white stork watched us from high up in a tree. The flora, birds and reptiles, three grass snakes and two slow worms and a stoat were to be admired by all. A wonderful afternoon experience.
28th June: The first day was for surveys by specialists. Myriapod and isopod expert Keith Lugg found 15 species of these little-studied invertebrates, and June Chatfield began to accumulate a list of a similar number of species of mollusc, including one snail that, if confirmed, will be the first record in Surrey. A long walk around the target area yielded about 150 species of flowering plant.
29th June: The public events on this day were not well attended, except for Scotty Dodd’s lively exploration of the Museum grounds for invertebrates, which included a good variety of organisms from the pond. Specialist surveys continued: arachnologist Simon Moore reported nine species of spider and Martyn Phillis detected seven species of bat overnight. The rarest of these bats, the western barbastelle, was also detected on the evening bat and moth session. The light traps attracted a large number of diverse insects: flies, wasps, caddis flies, bugs and beetles as well as moths.
30th June: The planned activities consisted of just a viewing of the results of overnight traps. An infra-red camera trap revealed that a path in the woods was used by a badger. The light traps yielded four species of hawkmoth including the huge privet hawkmoth, and a careful scrutiny of the other moths brought the total of lepidoptera on the BioBlitz to 82.
The BioBlitz total is 512 species, including 42 vertebrates, 173 insects and 216 vascular plants. The surveys identified the damp fields just beyond the gardens on the east side of Haslemere High Street as being particularly interesting. A full report will be forthcoming.
Chalk downland flowers on Pewley Down, Guildford (Managed by Guildford Borough Council and owned by the people of Guildford)
Leader: Vanessa McClure (HNHS member)
It was a perfect summer’s day for 20 members to walk along a dry path among an abundance of wild flowers, insects and occasional birds. Pyramidal, common spotted and man orchids were found in the chalky scrapes. A long list of summer-flowering, chalk downland plants, some shrubs and grasses was made. Among butterfly species were marbled white, small blue and common blue males.
A Wild Flower Meadow at Adversane, nr Billingshurst
Leaders: Michael and Jane Joseph (owners)
20 members visited the wildlife friendly garden and wildflower meadow created over 36 years by Jane and Michael Joseph. All were in awe of their achievements in creating a garden which was both formally planted but with a wildness that encourages insects and invertebrates. In spite of the chilly and windy conditions many bees were in evidence. The site is home to a colony of long-horned bees which are now very rare indeed.
In the meadow, created over a period of 30 years, oxeye daisies were waving gracefully, with bright red poppies, lots of yellow rattle seed heads and many other wild flowers. Our host was thrilled to find salad burnet during our walk. It was a first for the meadow. Among grasses to be encouraged were sweet vernal grass and quaking grass, whilst ‘thugs’ such as Yorkshire fog and smooth brome have to be managed out. Habitat provision is an important part of the meadow: dead hedges, a pond and log piles.
There are hopes that an elm tree planted 3 years ago will reach maturity. That would be very special.