New Forest Water Wildlife Month

New Forest Water Month poster Hyde Commons WaterBlitz 02jul2017

Email from Hannah Worker, Freshwater Habitats Trust Project Assistant

Hi Everyone,

As I’m sure many of you know that New Forest is a unique and outstanding place for wildlife. However not everyone knows how quite how special it is for freshwater wildlife too.

This July we, the Freshwater Habitats Trust, are holding the New Forest Water Wildlife Month. This is a celebration of the fantastic freshwaters of the New Forest.

We will be holding events every weekend through the month, offering opportunities for people to learn about and interact with their local ponds, rivers and stream. The events also offer the chance to take part in conservation work for some of the Forest’s rarest wetland plants and animals, and in current research on water quality.

For a full list of event please visit our website:

All the events are completely free and open to all, although places are limited so please book by emailing Jo at

Please can you share this email with your contacts, friends, family and anyone else you think might be interested in getting involved. Information can also be found on social media (#NewForestWaterMonth), please retweet us.

Kind regards,


 Hannah Worker Freshwater Habitats Trust Project Assistant

(Please note I work on several projects and may be away from my desk for periods of time. This may mean there is a delay in my response)



Freshwater Habitats Trust, 1st Floor, Bury Knowle House, North Place, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9HY

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Freshwater wildlife needs you. Support us today.

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Woodlark (Lullula arborea)

Martin Bennett lives in our Parish and is a keen ornithologist as well as a highly accomplished photographer. He writes here about a fascinating bird that can be found locally, we are privileged to have them here. Martin writes with passion about the potential threats to their successful breeding.

Despite the Woodlark  being  relatively abundant on Ibsley Common and  Rockford Common, some localised areas of the New Forest, and some parts of Southern England, it is more scarce elsewhere in Britain although it is increasing its range.  It is classified as a Schedule One bird, so any disturbance of any kind to this species is an offence.Continue Reading

The Adder (Viperus berus)

Martin Bennett lives in our Parish and is a keen ornithologist as well as a highly accomplished wildlife photographer. He writes about creatures found locally, we are privileged to have them here.

Over the past ten years, I have noticed a significant decline of the Adder. From my observations, partial reasons for their demise is the rapid increase of the Buzzard, Continue Reading

Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)

The Great Grey Shrike is a bird that breeds in the Scandinavian/Russian regions.   A small number migrate to overwinter in the UK.  The New Forest  accommodates  a population of 3-6 individuals from October through to March in most years.  Ibsley Common (Digden Bottom) was often a regular hunting area for them, especially from late February when the Common Lizards would start to emerge from their winter hibernation, Digden Bottom being a prolific area for these small reptiles. Continue Reading

The Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Article by Martin Bennett, all images copyright Martin Bennett.

We are extremely fortunate to live in an area of the New Forest that has a healthy quota of Dartford Warblers.

 Southern England is on the northern limits of its breeding range. They stay with us all year round,unfortunately a period of severe weather in the winter can have a devastating affect on their population. They are very reliant on a diet of spiders,and other small invertebrates, surviving a cold winter can be difficult to find enough food and in cold weather they can lose up to 30% of their body weight overnight.

Continue Reading

The Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Article by Martin Bennett, all images copyright Martin Bennett.

Header image Juvenile Cuckoo being fed by Meadow Pipit

The Ibsley Common and Rockford Common have relatively good numbers of the Cuckoo compared to some areas of the New Forest, although the numbers are gradually declining, possibly due to the demise of the Meadow Pipit who’s numbers have reduced significantly, certainly in the last 5 years.  The Meadow Pipit, Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Wheatear, along with the Cuckoo appear to be migrating further up the country to northern areas of the UK. It seems inevitable that the Cuckoo numbers will continue to decline in our area. The reason for these bird species moving north is possibly due to climate change.

Continue Reading

Ragwort – Senecio jacobaea

A common member of the Daisy family, Asteraceae.

Probably the most contentious plant in the Parish, or perhaps a close second to Bracken. Ragwort is a British native plant that is well known to be toxic to Mammals, that’s why it is often seen standing tall when all around is grazed within inch or so of the soil. Cows, Horses and Donkeys know that they should not eat it, it is bitter to taste and smells bad too. When restricted in a field or paddock Horses will eat Ragwort if they are almost starving because there is no grass but that is never the case on the open ‘Forest’.

Your Parish Council has a policy to remove by pulling all Ragwort from open ‘greens,’ and verges owned by the Council. This is done annually and is a measure to avoid the spread of seeds to cultivated land and also to enhance the visual appearance of open areas such as Gorley Green and the Green by the Alice Lisle. Some residents have expressed a well founded view that ragwort is most beneficial to some wildlife, particularly insects and so we try just to concentrate on the grazing areas leaving inaccessible spots for conservation purposes.

Being mindful of the value of Ragwort to many species of insect and indirectly supporting other wildlife the Council, in conjunction with the National Trust is allowing Ragwort to grow without major control in the Furzehill area. In 2016 more than 1000 Cinnabar moth caterpillars were counted using Ragwort in this area as a food plant.

Thanks are due to Martin Bennett for contributing the photos below which show just a few of the insects that feed on Ragwort.

A number of plants look like Ragwort, one of them is a very special plant in our area, the Small Fleabane….photos of that and more information to follow.

Small Fleabane – a local celebrity plant.

Small Fleabane

A special plant in our Parish

The New Forest is known for having a wide range of interesting plants, many that are found in larger numbers and better health than elsewhere in the UK. Small Fleabane (Pulicaria vulgaris) is one of them. This plant has its own peculiar requirements for survival and parts of our Parish are ideal for it. It’s not a water plant but it does like wet places and its life cycle is intimately linked to our large herbivores; the Horses and Cattle….Oh! and JCBs too.

Small Fleabane is having a good year, there are plants flowering along the side of the ditch that runs from (roughly) the phone box by the ex village shop down to the green by Mockbeggar chapel. It will be flowering for a few more weeks so why not take a look, go armed with a wild flower book to help with identification because it’s not a showy plant. Once you have your ‘eye in’ you’ll probably see quite a few plants.