Haslemere Natural History Society

Providing a focus for enthusiastic naturalists of all ages

Reports on Previous Field Meetings

(Click underlined links for photos taken on the day)

Bird Song with Nightingales in Tugley Wood, Chiddingfold Forest (Forest England)

Date: 4 May 2024
Time: 8:30
Directions: GR: SU981330 GU8 4TE W3W: mooring.ballroom.procured

Leader: Paul Nevett (HNHS member)

A fairly early start of 8.30am on a beautiful May morning, proved ideal for hearing not only 8 Nightingales but Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Blackcaps too.  Male Nightingales arrive in mid to late April and sing to establish a territory and to attract a female.

Early spring heathland birds on Lavington Common (National Trust)

Date: 20 April 2024
Time: 9:00
Directions: GR: SU949186 GU28 0QL South of Petworth on A285 at Heath End, take R turning signed Graffham. After 1 mile look for parking area on R.

Leader: Alan Perry (HNHS member and Emeritus President of Sussex Ornithological Society)

28 bird species were located by 13 members on this SSSI site (south of Petworth) of 95acres of dry and wet heath, acid grass and woodland. Three notable heathland species were seen: Woodlark frequently singing and tumbling in their display flight, Stonechat males perching on Gorse and Silver Birch and Dartford Warbler, somewhat elusive until one flew over the track.  A Nightingale was positively identified but the song was only in snatches.

Fossils at Bracklesham Bay

Date: 6 April 2024
Time: 13:45
Directions: GR: SZ80499636 PO20 8JH From A286 at Birdham roundabout by petrol station, turn L onto B2198 for Bracklesham Bay (Bell Lane becomes Bracklesham Lane). Continue to end of road, turn left for car park (cash or card) and toilets. Meet at slipway by “Billy’s on the Beach” café on seafront, next to car park.

Leader: David Bone (Geologist and Chair: Sussex Geodiversity Partnership)

The date and time of 13.45 were chosen as having good probability for finding fossils in the clay sediments during a receding falling tide. 
David, a local expert geologist, gave a short talk to 21 people describing the site and showed examples of what might be found there.
Then everyone moved across the shingle bank and began searching in the newly exposed sandy mud.  Soon discovered were numerous conically-spiralled Turritella gastropod shells and many Nummulites plankton-like foraminifera which look like tiny coins.
Sometimes to be found are small, black Striatolamia shark’s teeth.  To his delight a member’s grandson found one and David dug up one with his long-armed small spade.

Signs of spring on a Shillinglee walk

Date: 23 March 2024
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU965319 GU8 4SY On A283 (going southwards towards Northchapel), take L at crossroads (signed Plaistow). At Shillinglee with group of cottages on L, look for property “Barton” first on R. Parking by kind permission of owner.

Leader: Jon Taylor (HNHS member)

Birds seen or heard included: Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Stock Dove, Skylark, Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff, Buzzard, Red Kite, Pied Wagtail and Mandarin Duck.
In flower were: Bitter Cress, Common Dog Violet, Dog’s Mercury, Barren Strawberry, Lesser Celandine and Moschatel. Blackthorn bushes were laden with blossom.
Badger latrines were found and in muddy tracks Jon identified footprints of Roe Deer, Muntjac and Badger.
The Lake had been extensively dredged in summer 2023 and three large islands created.

Solar Boat, West Itchenor: Bird Watching (Chichester Harbour Conservancy)

Date: 17 February 2024
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU800014 PO20 7AW Directions: On A286 towards the Witterings, pass petrol station at Birdham, then 2nd exit to West Wittering. After ¼ mile turn R for Itchenor. Park & Display on L just before Ship Inn (currently £4.50 for 4 hours)

Even before the 25 members went on board, seen was a Black-throated Diver, not often present in Chichester Harbour.
John Arnott and his wife Philippa helped identify species and he gave a most interesting commentary on their feeding habits and history.
Seen were: Little Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Plover, Shelduck, Redshank, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Mute Swan, Heron, Teal, Curlew, Dunlin and a Harbour Seal which surfaced close to the Boat. 
Also seen were: pairs of Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser; a second view of the Black-throated Diver, Mediterranean Gulls and Lapwing.  Brent Geese (Dark-bellied Sub-species) were much in evidence having migrated from Arctic Russia to spend the winter in the Harbour.

Winter birds at Pulborough Brooks Reserve (RSPB)

Date: 20 January 2024
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: TQ058164 RH20 2EL

After flooding in October and January, areas of flood water were still frozen at the shallow edges and grassland was reappearing.  Most of the ducks and waders were feeding a long way from the hides.
There were two exciting sights: White-tailed Eagles and Snipe.  One of the Eagles was first located through a ’scope as a large blob perching in a distant tree.  Late one flew high over treetops, disturbing other birds, followed by a second one; their wings so deep and long made a huge contrast to other birds.  When one landed on open ground and the other flew low the white tail feathers were clear to see.
Close to one of the hides three Snipe probed with their long beaks.  One walked across the ice from one small island to the next.  Their striking plumage of creams and browns blended with the dead grass stems.
Two members, carefully keeping a list, recorded 38 species.

Winter Birds at Frensham Great Pond (managed by Waverley B.C. owned by National Trust)

Date: 2 December 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU844405 GU10 2QB Take A287 to Frensham, turn L into Bacon Lane. Car Park on L at Visitor Centre. Bring N/T Membership card. Non-members Pay by phone. Further details on their website.

Leader: Jonnie Taylor (HNHS Member)

Jonnie and 10 members were able to identify Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Dunnock and a small flock of Lesser Redpoll with a Goldcrest feeding on Alder catkins despite reduced visibility due to freezing fog.
In the copse surrounding the Outlet Pond many Redwing were heard and then seen flying off in droves as they fed on berries on the heavily-laden Holly bushes.  An active Badger sett had footprints at the sandy entrance.
An exciting sight was of a Water Rail click for photo (aided by the Society’s ’scope), running to and fro in the mud and puddles under a holly bush.

Winter Birds at Farlington Marshes (Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust)

Date: 18 November 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU685045 P06 1UN From end of A3(M), merge onto Havant Bypass. At roundabout leading to A2030 (Southsea Road), keep in left hand lane. Immediately turn sharp L onto a track, through gateway. Bring lunch.

*** MEETING CANCELLED ON ACCOUNT OF ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS ***

Ancient Trees in Petworth Park (National Trust)

Date: 21 October 2023
Time: 14:00
Directions: GR: SU966238 GU28 9LS Meet in Petworth Park, London Road, NORTH car park. Bring N/T Membership Card or credit card for parking. (Cash not accepted.)

Leader: Gerald Gresham Cooke

With the exception of a Northern Oak with leaves beginning to change colour to orange and red, the trees on the walk were still green.
Gerald Gresham Cooke pointed out the plaque set in the Park wall “Beelzebub Oak” that marked the boundary between the parishes of Petworth and Tillington and was recorded by name in 1779.
Ascending the gentle gradient to Arbour Hill the oldest oak of all at 940 years old and the oldest Sweet Chestnut of 600 years were much admired.

Fungus Foray at Waggoners Wells (west end) (National Trust)

Date: 7 October 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU855337 GU26 6DN Meet in the car park. Leave Bramshott village in an easterly direction along Rectory Lane. After about 1km. turn L at the T-junction: car park is at the end of the road.

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS Member)

After a very dry early Autumn, 11 members were pleased to see a good range of boletes, including two with bright red stems: Scarletina and Bitter Beech. Also found were several Russula and Cortinarius species and Otidea onotica which has rabbit-ear shaped cups. The species list numbered 48.
The find for the day was a twig with numerous tiny (3mm) white and woolly caps with stems and thought to be unusual. On further investigation later it was almost certainly identified as Entoloma jahnii for which there are only 13 previous records in the UK, two being at Waggoner’s Wells.
Click for species list

Plants, insects and animals on Mare Hill Common, Witley (Waverley Borough Council)

Date: 9 September 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU934399 GU8 5NZ From Haslemere on A286 northwards, through Brook, after 1 mile at crossroads turn R into Mare Hill. Park on L near a barrier or on side of road. Parking limited. Roke Lane.

Leader: Mike Edwards (Entomologist) 

Heather and Bell Heather were still in flower and producing nectar for many, very active insects on an extremely hot morning when 11 members met leader Mike Edwards on September 9th. Mike is a professional entomologist, author and an expert on ants, bees and wasps. His identification skills are acute and his knowledge of the complicated, often predatory, life cycles is outstanding.
With Mike’s sweep net and collection tubes members were able to look very closely at tiny insects, many of which only have Latin names. Among those studied were: Spider-hunting Wasp, Bee-wolf Wasp, Slavemaker Ants, sand wasps, digger wasps and solitary bees.
The large, uncommon hoverfly Xanthogramma pedissequum was located. This drops its eggs into the nests of ants where its larvae feed on aphids within the ants’ nest.

Bats at Frensham Little Pond (National Trust)

Date: 1 September 2023
Time: 19:15
Directions: GR: SU858417 GU10 3BT Meet at the National Trust car park, parking exemption leaflet will be handed out.

Leader: Martyn Phillis (HNHS Member and Member of Surrey & Sussex Bat Groups)

A bright, mild evening after a damp spell brought out the insects to attract our bats. Thirteen members joined Martyn and a Surrey Bat Group volunteer just before sunset.
Bat detectors were distributed amongst the group to enable everyone to hear, and perhaps identify the ultrasound calls of passing bats.
Close to the first of the HNHS funded bat boxes, we picked up our first Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, which were seen fluttering amongst the Scots Pines. Then the distinctive, but distant call of a Noctule bat Nyctalus noctula was picked up on the detectors.
We were treated to a wonderful display by these large bats to the southwest of the pond, where several were clearly seen, flying high and fast in the fading light. Feeding buzzes from our detectors showed they were catching flying beetles on the wing.
Moving along the south side of the pond, more pipistrelles were hunting over the water’s edge, flying just a few feet in front of us. Then an early emerging Daubenton’s bat Myotis daubentonii skimmed the water a few times, plucking its prey from the surface.
Returning along the east side of the pond, three more species were detected, one or two of them glimpsed by lamp light. Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Brown Long-eared Plecotus auritus and, unusually for this site, another large bat, the Serotine Eptesicus serotinus.
A final highlight was a juvenile Slow-worm spotted on the path by one of the group.
So, a very rewarding evening – two of our largest bat species, two of the smallest, and two medium sized.

A morning with moths in a HNHS member’s garden.

Date: 12 August 2023
Time: 9:00
Directions: GR: SU945333 GU8 4SW From Haslemere on B2131 past Lythe Hill Hotel, turn L into Killinghurst Lane. After approx.1 mile on R is “June Hill”. Park in drive.

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS Member)

Three light traps with strong UV output (one Mercury vapour light and two “Backlight” tubes) contained more than 64 species which were identified and then released. The site at Killinghurst has produced many rarities in recent years but on this occasion none was found.
Nationally Scarce were: Mocha and Four-spotted Footman and the infrequent micromoths Orthotaenia undulana and Mompha propinquella.  Distinctive macromoths were: Elephant Hawk-moth, Canary-shouldered Thorn, Black Arches, Rosy Footman and Lesser Swallow Prominent.
Click for species list.
Light trapping is a scientific, non-destructive way of surveying which can be informative of issues affecting insects in general.

A morning on Hankley Common, nr. Thursley

Date: 29 July 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU882392 GU10 2LQ From Haslemere at Hindhead go straight across roundabout, in approx. ½ mile turn R. into Tilford Rd and go through Beacon Hill. Continue to Bell & Dragon PH on L, turn R (Thursley Road). Continue approx ¾ mile car park on L.

Leader: Mike Waite (Living Landscapes Manager Surrey Wildlife Trust)

11 members of our Society visited Hankley Common, hoping to see the Great Fox Spider. Mike had spent two years searching for the spider that was thought to be extinct from the common, his hard work paid off. There were high hopes that one might be seen on the walk. To our delight one was found a very tiny juvenile.
Initially the weather was dull, other heathland insects were hard to find, that is until the sun came out, what a difference, Red-flash bugs, Red-tailed Sand-wasp, Green-eyed Flower Bee and many more were spotted.
The Common is owned by the MOD, and had a bad fire in 2022, but is now slowly recovering. In particular the heather, creating a beautiful pink/purple haze everywhere. Lots of Bilberry, sometimes known as Hurts, there was Wood Sage, bright yellow Dwarf Gorse, Cudweed, some White Bell Heather, Water Pepper, and Gypsywort, a Holly Blue butterfly and a Small Heath, made an appearance.
A morning walk in an area that once the hills had been climbed offered fantastic views.

INVERTEBRATE SPECIES LIST
Red-flash bug Alydus calcaratus. Nationally Scarce, and a mimic of the spider-hunting wasps.
Bombus jonellus, the Heather Bumblebee.
Ammophila pubescens Heath Red-tailed Sand-wasp.
Agelena labyrinthica a spider related to our house spider, this was a mating pair.
Bombus terrestris Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Myrmeleotettix maculatus, the Mottled Grasshopper. A small grasshopper which has many colour variations.
Thyridanthrax fenestratus Mottled Bee-fly, a cleptoparasite of the Ammophila.
Dark ground-spider of the Zelotes species, most likely Z. petrensis. Nationally Rare.
Aeshna cyanea Southern Hawker Dragonfly.
Alopecosa fabrilis the Great Fox Spider, a tiny juvenile.
Philanthus triangulum a solitary wasp, cleptoparasitic on honey- and other bees.
Anthophora bimaculatum, the Green-eyed Flower Bee.
A crab-spider of the Xysticus genus, most likely cristatus.

Butterflies on Magdalen Hill Down, nr. Winchester

Date: 15 July 2023
Time: 11:00
Directions: GR: SU511295 SO21 1HB From Farnham to Winchester A31 take B3404 Alresford Road towards Winchester. On L, at entrance to Magdalen Hill Cemetery, drive to top of track adjacent to the Stonemason's yard (special parking permission).

Leader: Margaret Hibbard (HNHS Member)

*** MEETING CANCELLED DUE TO BAD WEATHER ***

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Butterfly Conservation manage this flower-rich grassland on chalk downland. Of the 34 butterfly species recorded it is possible that over 20 species will be there in July.  Bring lunch if you wish to stay on into afternoon.

Pond Dipping at ponds in Plaistow

Date: 17 June 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: TQ009304 RH14 0NT From Plaistow church continue south along Rickmans Lane for ½ mile and park at “Bramble” on R.

Leader: Katy Ayers (HNHS Member)

Although the water level in two ponds was very low an interesting range of species were found.
In the more shaded pond there were many Common Newts, large dragonfly larvae, Ramshorn Snails and Pea Mussels.  Hand lenses were used to observe Water Louse and daphnia which had been transferred to white plastic boxes.
The other pond, more exposed in sunshine had damselflies, Common Pond Skaters, Lesser Water Boatmen, juvenile newts and very lively water beetles.

Chalk downland flowers on Pewley Down, Guildford (Managed by Guildford Borough Counciland owned by the people of Guildford)

Date: 3 June 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: TQ004484 GU4 8AW On A281 just past Shalford (towards Guildford and opposite playing fields), turn R into Pilgrims Way. The Echo Pit car park is a short distance along on R signposted North Downs Way and Chantry Wood.

Leader: Vanessa McClure (HNHS Member and Guildford NHS Member)

In continuous sunshine the flowers were superb, including swathes of bright pink Sainfoin and Yellow Rattle. Among many other species identified were: Bulbous Buttercup, Salad Burnett, Common Milkwort and Pyramidal Orchid.
Vanessa located yellow spikes of Man Orchid, so called because of 4 spurs from each floret resembling arms and legs of a person.
In three wildflower meadows Skylarks were singing and watched flying very high and then plummeting down into the grass.

Spring butterflies at Oaken Wood, nr. Plaistow (Butterfly Conservation)

Date: 27 May 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU993330 GU8 4PH From Chiddingfold take minor road Fisher Lane. After entrance to Tugley Wood (on L) continue for ½ mile and park under barrier on R.

Leader: Phil Darley (HNHS member)

Thirteen members were not disappointed in the hope of seeing Wood White butterflies, of which at least 15 were flying. Also seen were Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and many Speckled Yellow Moths.
As part of Butterfly Conservation’s Wood White Project over 1,000 plug plants needed as food plants by Wood White caterpillars had been provided by Wakehurst Place and distributed among local landowners.
Two mature Wild Service Trees were covered in white blossom. Singing were Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a Nightingale in full voice.

Botany and Butterflies on Noar Hill, Selborne (Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust)

Date: 13 May 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU742319 GU34 3LW From A3 heading into Selborne, just beyond traffic calming take sharp L turn. Go up hill. Take next L turn. Beyond house on R park on verge. Steep paths.

Leader: Fiona Haynes (Reserves Officer)

A Red Kite greeted 17 members at the entrance.  This chalk downland site with 50 former small chalk pits and many old ant hills has SSSI status. Widespread and impressive were Cowslips still in flower.  When the sun broke through several adult Duke of Burgundy butterflies were seen.
Also seen or heard were: many flowering Twayblade, Fly Orchid, Song Thrush, Whitethroat, Firecrest, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Dingy Skipper and the larva of a Small Bloody-nosed Beetle.

Snails and general wildlife at Lynch Hill Hanger, Alton

Date: 29 April 2023
Directions: GR: SU732404 GU34 4HF Directions: If approaching Alton along B3004, about 1km after going under A31 bridge, turn R into Mill Lane. Continue for about 1km then park in Aldi car park on L

Leader: Dr. June Chatfield (Vice President British Conchological Society)

Snail species totalled 18 (plus 2 slug species) thereby opening members’ eyes to an often overlooked group of organisms. In grassland were found: Wrinkled, Garden and White-lipped. In the beech hanger living examples were found: Round-mouthed, Discus and door snails.  The highlights were 3 species of glass snails and, by using a hand lens, their beating hearts could be seen through their transparent shells.

Spring birds at Grayswood and Frillinghurst

Date: 18 March 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: :SU924348 GU27 2EE Directions: From Haslemere on A286 to Grayswood, just before the Green, turn R into Lower Road, pass Grayswood School, at crossroads turn L into Prestwick Lane. After appx ¼ mile park on R at entrance of Frillinghurst Wood.

Leader: Jon Taylor (HNHS Member)

Jon, who has acute hearing, wanted the 17 members to identify species of birds by listening carefully to their song, rather than by through binoculars.
The Chiffchaff and the Cuckoo call their own name; the Song Thrush loudly repeats different phrases over and over; and the Blackbird has a beautiful, relaxed song.  Goldcrest and Firecrest, which were heard and seen, have very high-pitched calls.
Passing alongside fields where crops had been specially planted for wild flowers and winter food for birds and insects, a Woodlark was seen.
Altogether 27 bird species were recorded.  Thanks to Jon’s extensive knowledge it was an excellent and interesting morning.

BIRDS AT MEDMERRY (RSPB Reserve)

Date: 25 February 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SZ817966 PO20 7JL Directions: From B2198 at East Wittering turn L for Earnley. Nr. Earnley Church take Drove Lane. Meet in RSPB car park on R. Stay on for further bird watching and lunch, optional.

Leader: Mike Prince (RSPB Volunteer)

14 members were treated to sightings of around 43 different bird species and several Roe Deer. 
These included several flocks of Linnet, Dartford Warbler, Stonechat.
At Stilt Pond, there were sightings of a Grey Heron, many Wigeon and Shoveler, a solitary Avocet, a Greenshank and 2 Common Ringed Plovers, The highlight being a female Marsh Harrier making several passes over the water and flushing out a number of Snipe and sending flocks of the smaller water birds up into the air.  And always a favourite, two sightings of a Kestrel hovering close by.

LYNCHMERE COMMON IN WINTER

Date: 28 January 2023
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU864315 GU27 3NF Directions: From Haslemere B1231, Liphook Road, take 2nd minor road on L, leading to Lynchmere Church.  In less than ¼ mile (near large notice board) park on roadside.

Leader: Mike Edwards (Member of The Lynchmere Society)

In 2012 our Society had given a donation for the purchasing of Hazel saplings. The walk passed the plantation on “Little Common” where, despite the poor acid soil, the trees had reached a good height and were covered in yellow catkins.
Mike gave help to identify trees in winter: Silver and Downy Birch, Rowan, Ash, Oak and self-seeded Amelanchier. He recounted the uses in times past of Gorse, Bracken, Heather, Purple Moor Grass and Soft Rush.

Winter Birds on Black Down (National Trust)

Date: 3 December 2022
Time: 10:30
Directions: GR: SU922307 GU27 2BJ From Haslemere at end of Tennyson’s Lane, on bend by entrance to Aldworth House, turn R down to car park.

Leader: Paul Matson (Sussex Ornithological Society member).

On a grey morning (not ideal for seeing birds) fourteen species of birds were seen or heard, notably Tree Creeper, Dartford Warbler and Stonechat.  Redwings and Fieldfares had been there previously, but having devoured the berries, most had moved away.  However, a small flock flew over.  Through the ’scopes a Great Spotted Woodpecker was located in a Silver Birch tree.

Birds at Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve, Cliff Road Hill Head, Fareham (Hampshire County Council)

Date: 19 November 2022
Directions: Park opposite the Reserve sign, or by sea wall north of the bridge. Meet by Visitor Centre. Entrance fee at time of going to print £6. Bring lunch or purchase refreshments at the small Centre.

Leaders: Doug Maughan and Phil Darley (HNHS Members)

The weather conditions were ideal for visiting this National Nature Reserve which has 369 acres of wetland in the Lower Meon Valley alongside the Solent.On the shoreline, with the Black-headed Gulls, were Turnstone busy searching among the pebbles and bathing.For the three hides on the east side seen were:  Canada Geese in small flocks; a pair of Greylag Geese; a circling flock of Lapwing; and single Curlew, Oystercatcher, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe and Heron.  A large bird was finally identified as a Marsh Harrier.From a hide on the west side seen were: a Cetti’s Warbler, several Shelduck, Shoveler, Ringed Plover and Reed Buntings. More than 10 Snipe were located.
The number of bird species counted was 52.

Small Mammal Trapping at Swan Barn (National Trust)

Date: 22 October 2022
Directions: Take the B2131 out of Haslemere, after a few yards just past Crofts Veterinary Practice turn L down Collards Lane, continuing to end of Lane.

Leader: Dee Durham (Area Ranger National Trust South Downs West)

Eleven members met with Dee for this walk.
She explained that 12 Longworth traps had been set in various habitats and it was hoped that mice and voles would be caught.
It was good weather for the walk, but unfortunately all the traps were empty. Dee said this was probably due to the heavy rain during the night, which meant the animals were probably less inclined to forage far.
The National Trust rangers do not regularly monitor the small mammals in this area, but are confident that the rodent population is thriving due to the presence of Tawny Owls.

Fungi on Ebernoe Common (Sussex Wildlife Trust)

Date: 8 October 2022
Directions: From A283 1½ miles south of Northchapel, take turning on L into Steel's Lane, signposted Ebernoe. After 1½ miles just past phone box, look for track on R leading to Ebernoe Church.

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS Member)
Andy produced a list of 57 identified species of largely quite ordinary fungi at this renowned site.
However, there was several attractive and uncommon ones including:  a clump of bright orange Pholiota adiposa (uncommon) on a huge fallen beech tree; several black and white Magpie Inkcap; and a patch of the minute white Fluted Bird’s Nest (Cyathus striatus) which has spores in packages held in the cup-shaped structure, somewhat resembling eggs in a nest.
Death Cap, Horn-of-Plenty, Pink Waxcap and Moss Oysterling were also found. Click here for species list.

Moth Trapping

Date: 16 September 2022
Directions: From Haslemere on B2131 past Lythe Hill Hotel, turn L into Killinghurst Lane. After approimately 1 mile on R is "June Hill". Park in drive. Bring torch.

Leader: Andy Swan, Margaret Tomsett

The clear skies and cold temperatures (starting at 11°C and dropping to 8°C) spoilt this event.
Three Skinner Moth Traps had been set up in different areas in a large garden.
Very few moths were found at repeated inspections, but at some point during the night there was some activity.
No fewer than 41 Lunar Underwings were found in the traps in the morning. There were only seven moth species, with the highlights being an Autumnal Rustic and the uncommon Deep-brown Dart.

Burton Mill Pond (Sussex Wildlife Trust)

Date: 3 September 2022
Directions: On A285 3 miles south of Petworth at Heath End turn L into Burton Park Road. After a mile, opposite the Pond, drop down L to car park.

Leader: Andy Swan, HNHS President

The morning’s walk, passing through many different habitats at Burton Mill Pond and Chingford Pond, revealed some very interesting finds.
In the acidic woodland the Blushing Rosette fungus was adjacent to the uncommon Zoned Rosette (Podoscypha multizonal).
The Sweet Chestnut trees, planted in the 1740s, are remarkable for their height, age and twisted bark.
At the edge of Chingford Pond there was a brief glimpse of a Water Vole and Nodding Bur-marigold with button-like yellow flowers was found.
In the alder carr with a boardwalk leading to the acidic peat bog Back Hole, Alder Leaf Beetles were devouring the leaves leaving them full of holes. A damselfly only resident in the UK for the last few years was identified as a Willow Emerald Damselfly.

Woolmer Pond, nr Greatham

Date: 20 August 2022
Directions: Parking at above grid reference (just off roundabout on the A325) is limited; alternative parking will be recommended, depending on numbers.

Leaders: Andy Swan and Mike Lawn (HNHS Members)



Mike led 18 HNHS members through the gate to enter the MoD land on a sunny but not excessively hot morning.
The level of the main pond was very low – it was just a few inches deep. Along the damp margins a Black Darter was found, and the extensive carpets of Marsh St John’s-wort were still fresh. Whilst the dry heathland appeared quite lifeless, some classic heathland insects were found around the pond: the sand wasp Ammophila and the scarce Grayling butterfly.
The site is the only location where all 12 UK native species of reptile and amphibian occur, but these are all quite elusive! We saw some shallow excavations that had been dug for the rare Natterjack Toad. Natterjacks breed in shallow seasonal ponds in otherwise dry habitats, so at this time of year they were (hopefully) secreted amongst vegetation, from which they emerge at night.
Some patches of almost bare boggy peat displayed both Round-leaved and Oblong-leaved Sundew, plus numerous plants of the pale green Marsh Clubmoss. Invertebrate activity included the semi-aquatic Raft Spider and the extraordinary Long-winged Conehead.
Two Green Sandpipers were found at the margins a boggy pond, and the rare Small Red Damselfly and uncommon Emerald Damselfly posed for photographs. During the return walk, the group was treated to a close encounter with a small flock of Woodlark.
We were lucky to have had a guide with such a depth of expertise and local knowledge, without whom we would have overlooked much of the special wildlife in this unique site.

Hankley Common, nr. Thursley

Date: 30 July 2022

Leader: Mike Waite (Living Landscapes Manager Surrey Wildlife Trust)

***MEETING CANCELLED ON ACCOUNT OF FIRE AT SITE*** 

Butterflies on Magdalen Down, nr. Winchester

Date: 16 July 2022

Leader: Margaret Hibbard (HNHS Member)

***MEETING CANCELLED ON ACCOUNT OF HEAT AND LACK OF SHADE AT THE SITE*** 

Nightjar walk on Iping Common

Date: 25 June 2022

Leader: Veronica Carter (HNHS Member)

As the group left the car park daytime birds were singing. One Nightjar (possibly relieved of nest-sitting duties) was seen and 20 minutes later the first churring was heard at 9.36.
During the next hour at least a dozen were heard and at one point Nightjars were calling on three sides of the group. The route continued towards a Silver Birch with a churring Nightjar, but when this bird decided to move on it provided the best sighting of the evening.
In the dark, on the return walk, attention turned to watching for Glow-worms as two had been spotted there recently. By the time the car park was reached six had been seen.

Field Crickets on Farnham Heath (RSPB), Tilford

Date: 28 May 2022

From the Farnham Heath area where 6 Longhorn Cattle were resting and grazing, the walk entered “Tankersford Common” which is not open to the public.
Seen were:  Fox, Roe Deer, Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stonechat, Dartford Warbler and Heath Cudweed. A Whitethroat gave its scratchy song.
In an open, sunny area of tussocky grasses with bare patches of soil the male Field Crickets were stridulating from their burrows.  A female cricket was located crawling through the grass. After crickets were introduced here in 2010 the numbers steadily built up until in 2018 136 males were recorded.  This spring 48 had been heard by the end of May.
In flower-rich acid grassland (soon to be grazed by 8 resident Konik Ponies) finds included: Heath Bedstraw, Heath Speedwell, Sheep’s Sorrel, Bird’s-foot and Heath Grass.

Selborne (National Trust): Landscape, Wildlife and Gilbert White

Date: 14 May 2022

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS Member)
Standing near the edge of Selborne Churchyard, Andy explained to 11 members the geology of the area which includes Middle Chalk, Lower Chalk, Upper Greensand and Lower Greensand.  All these have given rise to specific types of flora and fauna.
When Gilbert White wrote “The Natural History of Selborne” the village was an isolated place.  He had only limited ability to travel but corresponded with fellow naturalists.  His interest in wildlife, particularly the behaviour of birds, and the arrival and departures of some species contributed towards knowledge of migration. He is considered the first writer on ecology.
During the walk along the valley of the Oakhanger Stream seen were: Marsh Tit, Red Admiral, Orange Tip, Beautiful DemoiselleGreen Dock Beetle, Blue-tailed Damselflies and Heath Woodruff.
At the end of the morning respects were made in the Churchyard at the grave of Gilbert White with its very simple headstone.

Early Spring Heathland Birds on Lavington Common (National Trust)

Date: 30 April 2022

Leader: Alan Perry (HNHS member)
Leading the walk across Lavington Plantation, Alan was soon able to locate the scratchy song of the Whitethroat and 12 members heard Chiffchaffs, a male Yellowhammer, Linnets and a distant Cuckoo.  Two key heathland species were encountered:  Woodlarks were heard then seen in flight and Dartford Warblers made brief appearances.
Stonechat males and females perched on top of Gorse bushes. Alan was delighted to see his first Swallow of the year, followed later by two more.
Two young children in the group spotted two Common Lizards and a Wood Ant highway leading to two nests still under construction.
Alan remarked: “We have seen everything I had hoped we would see but doubted.”

Early Spring Heathland Birds on Lavington Common (National Trust)

Date: 30 April 2022

Leader: Alan Perry (HNHS member)
Leading the walk across Lavington Plantation, Alan was soon able to locate the scratchy song of the Whitethroat and 12 members heard Chiffchaffs, a male Yellowhammer, Linnets and a distant Cuckoo.  Two key heathland species were encountered:  Woodlarks were heard then seen in flight and Dartford Warblers made brief appearances.
Stonechat males and females perched on top of Gorse bushes. Alan was delighted to see his first Swallow of the year, followed later by two more.
Two young children in the group spotted two Common Lizards and a Wood Ant highway leading to two nests still under construction.
Alan remarked: “We have seen everything I had hoped we would see but doubted.”

Kingley Vale,West Stoke, National Nature Reserve (Natural England)

Date: 9 April 2022

Leader: Helen Beal (Reserve Volunteer Worker)
The visit included walking through the groves of the famous Yew forest, climbing uphill to the ancient barrows on top of the South Downs and returning through mixed woodland to look for spring flowers.
The Yews here are some of the oldest living organisms in the UK, with some estimated to be 2,000 years old.
This National Nature Reserve has four dew ponds. Belted Galloway bullocks and Jacob Sheep help to keep down the scrub. Wood Anemone was one of the species in flower and a Brimstone and Comma were on the wing.
The very close, spectacular fly-past given by Red Kite was the highlight of the day for many members.

Wild Daffodils at West Dean Woods Reserve,Singleton (Sussex Wildlife Trust)

Date: 19 March 2022

Leader: Glenn Norris(SWT Ecologist)

On a beautiful, sunny spring morning on March 19th with barely a cloud in the sky, fifteen members were greeted by Glenn Norris, the Ecologist for Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT), at their Reserve in West Dean Woods, near Singleton to see the Wild Daffodils.
The Reserve has been worked as a Hazel coppicing site for hundreds of years. SWT took the area over in 1975. Rotated on a seven year cycle, all wood is sold for use as fencing or poles. Once an area has been coppiced it is fenced off to protect the new growth from deer, and, more surprisingly, hares.
In the cleared rides many butterflies were seen nectaring on the fully-opened flowers of Goat Willow: Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Brimstone.
Plant species seen: Butcher’s Broom (an ancient woodland species), Blackthorn, Primrose, Violet and Wood Anemone. Glenn pointed out a pair of Ravens, a Firecrest singing high up in pine tree and a Marsh Tit. Chiffchaffs were heard everywhere, having just return to the UK. Also seen were Red Kite and Buzzard.
The visit to see the Wild Daffodils in flower in this private reserve certainly did not disappoint. They were spectacular ! – in full flower and extensive, a carpet of pale yellow as far as the eye could see. Members were truly impressed to see the thousands of Daffodils; surely a sight to remember.

Solar Boat West Itchenor: Bird Watching (Chichester Harbour Conservancy)

Date: 12 February 2022

At mid-day, in glorious sunshine, 30 members boarded the Solar Boat for a two hour trip.  The boat moved silently towards Thorney Island and up the Thorney Channel, passing Cobnor Point on the return journey.
Species seen: Brent Goose, Common Gull, TurnstoneDunlinCurlewLittle Egret, Shelduck, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover and Cormorant.
The highlight species: Red-breasted Merganser in small flocks and also a group of 20 or 30 taking flight.

Winter Birds at Pulborough Brooks (RSPB)

Date: 29 January 2022

A very successful morning was spent in excellent light conditions enabling easier recognition of bird species. For birds associated with land, 24 species were seen including a male Kestrel, perched on top of a tree very close to members and remaining there for 10 minutes or more.
In the flooded fields more than 16 species of birds associated with water were identified, notably large numbers of Lapwings and among them 3 Ruff, a species not often encountered.

Winter Birds at Frensham Great Pond (managed by Waverley Borough Council)

Date: 4 December 2021

Leader: Sue Bradford (HNHS Member)
The pond area has distinct habitats: fresh water, woodland, alder carr and Cladonia Heath.
On the pond were Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Black-headed Gull, Coot, Moorhen and Heron.  The putlet pond is surrounded by woodland, predominately Holly, where Redwings were busy stripping the berries. In the alder carr (waterlogged woodland with alder, sallow and birch) Siskins, high in the canopy, fed on alder cones.  A medium-sized, pale-grey bird suddenly appeared flying fast and swerving between the alders  –  probably a Sparrowhawk.  The Cladonia Heath (fenced area between the pond and the main road) is dominated by silvery-grey Cladonia species lichen and green mosses.

Signs of winter on a Shillinglee walk.

Date: 20 November 2021

Leader: Jon Taylor (HNHS member)
West of Plaistow, the Shillinglee area just in the South Downs National Park has a mixture of habitats.
In a mixed deciduous copse found on different leaves were tiny white “tracks” or mines.  These had been made by leaf miner larvae of a micromoth or flies.
In the Sweet Chestnut woodland a tiny buff-coloured November Moth was seen fluttering and there was a circle of the common large Wood Blewit fungus.
Near the freshwater lake some members caught a brief glimpse of a Kingfisher and on The Lake were Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and Great Crested Grebe.
Walking through the rough grazing fields three pellets thought to be from either Little Owl or Kestrel were discovered.  These were taken home by members keen to dissect and identify the contents!  One with tiny remains of beetles and flies but no bones was probably from a Kestrel, but another with several undigested green and brown caterpillars (from two species of moth) was more likely to have been ejected by a Little Owl as these caterpillars will come out to feed on mild nights even in winter.

Birds at Ferry Pool, Sidlesham and Church Norton.

Date: 30 October 2021

Leaders: Phil Darley & Douglas Maughan (HNHS Members)
In mizzle with leaden skies, 11 members proceeded to the bird hide overlooking Ferry Pool. There was a wonderful view of Avocets on the water, then in flight. Lapwing, Shoveler and Wigeon were there too.
In the stream exiting the Pool the group was delighted to see a Red-necked Grebe.  A small squadron of Brent Geese flew silently overhead.
Moving to a view-point at the shingle spit alongside Church Norton overlooking Pagham Harbour, in brighter conditions seen were: Pintail, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, to name just some of the species, and surprising to see a Whimbrel and a Mediterranean Gull. Click for species list

Early morning autumn migratory birds on Black Down (National Trust)

Date: 23 October 2021

Leader: Paul Matson (Sussex Ornithological Society member).
Report to be posted shortly.

Fungus Foray: Waggoners Wells (west end) (National Trust)

Date: 9 October 2021

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS Member)
The conditions were near-ideal.  Descending to Cooper’s Stream identified were: Chanterelle, Hedgehog Mushroom and large number of “Jellybabies.” In more open areas were: a large Orange Birch Bolete and the Parasitic Bolete which grows from old Common Earthballs, but is found only very sporadically.
Colourful finds were:  Amethyst Deceiver, Fly Agaric, Yellow Stagshorn and Sulphur Knight. Beech Milkcap has intensely hot and acrid-tasting “milk.”   Further discoveries were: Bulbous Honey Fungus, Blue-spot Knoght, Grey Knight, Panther Cap, Lilac Leg Fibrecap and faintly honey-smelling Sweet Poison pie.
The group of 14 enthusiastic forayers did a good job of finding an interesting and diverse range of fungi, numbering a total of 48 species.
Click for species list.

Moth Trapping

Date: 17 September 2021

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS member)
Three traps were set up, tree trunks had been smeared and wine ropes dipped in a special concoction. 
After a slow start lots of pug moths were found, several different species of thorns and then a Brimstone Moth and a Barred Sallow.  Two Copper Underwing alighted on tree trunks.
The traps remained out overnight and by morning 20 species had collected. 
Member Martyn Phillis bought along his bat detector so Common and Soprano Pipistrelle and a single, distant Noctule were identified. Martyn was able to confirm that social calls were probably being made by a male Soprano trying to attract females into a bat box!

Reptiles on Ambersham Common (Natural England)

Date: 4 September 2021

Leader: Paul Stevens (Sussex Amphibian & Reptile Group Committee member)
With more than 20 years’ experience of recording amphibians and reptiles, Paul led members across part of Heyshott Common, which is on the other side of the road from Ambersham Common.
He had carried out a full survey of the site during the previous week and had planned a route to visit the tins (refugia) where Slowworms, Adders, Grass Snakes or the rare Smooth Snake take shelter.
The very first tin that was lifted revealed a fairly small, adult male Smooth Snake. For several members this was an exciting ‘first’.  A second male Smooth Snake was also found beneath another tin.
As the group moved on over the Heath where heather was still in flower, seen were: 6 dark brown, furry Fox Moth caterpillars; a Wasp Spider in her web and an egg pot made by the same species; an unusually dark Slowworm, clearly gravid and near to giving birth; and flowering Dwarf Gorse growing adjacent to Common Gorse.
Under the final tin a third male Smooth Snake was found, with members declaring it had been thrilling to have had the chance to see three examples of this rare and elegant snake.

Bats at Frensham Little Pond (National Trust)

Date: 28 August 2021

Leader: Martyn Phillis (HNHS Member)
Weather conditions were very promising at the start of our walk. A warm, still evening with 90% cloud cover was ideal to bring out the insects, and following them, the bats.
Soprano pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus were the first to emerge, shortly after sunset. High amongst the tall conifers, north-west of the pond, they flitted about, silhouetted against the sky, above the bat boxes funded by HNHS a few years ago.
Near the south-west corner of the pond, the distinctive call of a large noctule bat Nyctalus noctula was picked up faintly on the bat detectors. Shortly afterwards, one appeared above us, hawking for large flying beetles and moths. Its distinctive ‘chip-chop’ call could be heard clearly on our detectors as it swooped about at high speed.
We were soon surrounded by soprano pipistrelles, flashing past very close, just above our heads. Our bat detectors rattled loudly as they gobbled up the midges homing in on our group.
Common pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus first appeared on the east side of the pond, at one point taking advantage of our midge cloud in the same way that sopranos had earlier.
To finish, we watched a splendid display of Daubenton’s bats Myotis daubentonii skimming the water in front of us at the dam, plucking their insect food from the surface of the pond.
Then a final surprise as we reached the car park – a large serotine bat Eptesicus serotinus passed unseen above us a few times, its calls clear on the detectors. It will have been catching flying beetles emerging from the mature pine trees.

Mainly Dragonflies on Graffham Common (Sussex Wildlife Trust)

Date: 14 August 2021

Leader:  Jane Willmott (Reserve Manager)
Sussex Wildlife Trust took over the Common in 2010 and removed many rhododendron plants and pine trees to bring it back to open heathland.  The large pond was probably used for shooting.
The Common is renowned for its spider population.  Found were: a tiny, white-flowered sundew (previously not recorded here) and a bright-orange female of the uncommon Red-brown Longhorn Beetle.  There were several grasshopper species, Bog Bush-Cricket, Common Cudweed, Common Eyebright, Sphagnum Moss, immigrant Silver Y Moth and the large hairy caterpillar of the Fox Moth. At the pond identified were: Large Red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, several Ruddy Darter and an Emperor Dragonfly flying fast over the water.

Midhurst Common

Date: 31 July 2021

Leader: Murray Marr accompanied by Friends of Midhurst Common.
Murray has studied the history of the Common in detail, has made maps going back to 1550 and kindly produced a leaflet for our 12 members.
200 years ago Scots Pine was introduced on the bare heath as ornamental planting and with little grazing and being self-seeded has spread and adapted to the poor soils.
In wet heath areas Purple Moor Grass grows. Cross-leaved Heath and Bell Heather were in flower with heather about to do so.  Deep in the bracken a marker stone (1793) was located.  This was one of four and showed the boundary between Midhurst and Woolbeding Manors.  Commoners had the right of turbary, i.e. cutting of peat and turf as fuel.
Near the Pest House (1741) chalk and lime were brought in to neutralise the acid soil so the inmates could cultivate food.  Now it is deciduous mixed woodland.
The flat, open sandy area with three ponds was the base of a sandpit.  Here grow Common Wintergreen, Blue Fleabane, Smooth Cat’s Ear and Yellow-wort. 
Murray commented: “The Common is really a place of mixed-up habitats.”

Butterflies at Oaken Wood near Plaistow (Butterfly Conservation)

Date: 17 July 2021

Leader: Phil Darley (HNHS Member)
The rare butterfly in the south of England, the Wood White, made its first emergence of the summer brood on the very day of this field meeting.
During the hot, sunny morning many species of butterfly were in high numbers and very active:  Small Heath, Marbled White, Purple Hairstreak, Gatekeeper and Large Skipper were all seen; Silver-washed Fritillary had newly emerged; and numerous Small Skipper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet flew wherever one looked.
For butterflies (and 21 members) it was a perfect morning in a perfect location!

Entomology at Myrtle Farm, Rake

Date: 3 July 2021

eader: Scotty Dodd (Entomologist)
Myrtle Farm was a new venue for the Society.  The farm owners had requested that numbers be limited but were kind enough to allow an afternoon visit too.
With 16 acres of pasture and 10 acres of woodland the aim is to promote a more natural landscape and increase biodiversity, habitats and carbon capture.  ~
With Scotty’s collapsible white fabric beating tray, a pooter and the Society’s two sweep nets a large number of insects and spiders were collected which Scotty very ably identified. Many were very small and only have Latin names.  Seen were grasshoppers, bush-crickets, weevils, soldier beetles, leaf hoppers, shieldbugs, spider mites, hoverflies, ladybirds and harvestmen.
When the sun appeared butterflies in the meadows were active: Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large and Small Skipper and Marbled White.
Click here for Scotty’s comprehensive species list.  Included are 5 Notable Species and one on the Rare Data Book, namely a false click beetle Microrhagus pygmaeus.

Insects and Plants on Bramshott Common

Date: 19 June 2021

Leader: Andy Swan (HNHS Member)
Andy gave a brief history of the Common, particularly the impact of Canadian Army Camps in WW1 and WW11, whereby mortar from buildings and materials for roads have altered the pH allowing calcareous-loving plants to survive and plants brought in to maintained gardens have spread. Examples of these are Carline Thistle, Mossy Stonecrop, Birdsfoot Clover, Lady’s Mantle, and St. Dabeoc’s Heath, Bloody Cranesbill and Dotted Loosestrife, all of which Andy revealed their precise location as he knows the area well.
Although mainly dull and overcast, there were two occasions when male and female Silver-studded Blue butterflies were seen and photographed.
Click for species list.

Spring Plants on Ebernoe Common (Sussex Wildlife Trust)

Date: 22 May 2021

Leader: Frances Abraham (Sussex Botanical Recording Society member)
After 15 months with no Field Meeting due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was a great pleasure for 16 members to meet up again. Visitors are not permitted yet.
Ebernoe Common is a National Nature Reserve, owned and managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust,   It is a Low Weald woodland and is an example of old wood pasture with glades, all created when cattle and pigs one grazed and browsed on acorns and beech mast.
Along the main track found were: Wood Millet, Wood-sedge, Dog’s Mercury Wood Mellick, Black Bryony, Agrimony, Wood Sorrel and Butcher’s Broom, to name a few.  In a glade with acid soil were: Sharp-flowered Rush, Tormentil, Broad Buckler Fern, Dwarf Gorse, Crab Apple and Midland Hawthorn. In damp Willand Wood, once coppiced, were: Thin-spike Wood Sedge, Goldilocks, Sanicle and Pignut.
Members had enjoyed Frances’ anecdotes, both botanical and historical and had learnt to recognise plants new to them.

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