Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Visit To Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve And Fifty Thousand Page Views Beckon......

Today we had a College Day Out to Lymington and Keyhaven Nature Reserve, an area covering some 500 acres and including nationally important mudflats and salt marshes. As usually happens on a College Day out, we got alternately frozen and rained on, but it was still Good Fun. And as well as being Good Fun, I came back with pictures of several New Birds and extended my plant ID skills as well (largely thanks to Mat, Dave and Des). This is a different bit of the salt marsh to the section I've shown you in the past, so bear with me.

We started off with a talk from the reserve manager where we learnt that Lymington was built on salt (not literally of course, because that would be foolish and unsustainable and besides, in heavy rain the houses would all melt, although I suppose you'd never have a problem with ice on driveways again.....). It was built on the proceeds of a Vast Salt Industry. Copious quantities of sea salt were produced in the marshes every year and the money was used to build big smart houses, until rock salt was discovered and the whole industry stopped.

I do like a Spot Of Nice Architecture, but given the choice I'd rather be photographing Wild Things, and one of the benefits of doing this with a group of people who are also interested in them is that you don't get teased for taking pictures of, say, pieces of grass, generally tutted at or harried to Hurry Up, as I often do at the weekends.

Herewith then, the results of Todays Camera Offerings.....

Artificial Lagoon, created forty years ago to provide a Brackish Environment for Brackish Creatures. Also has Terns trying to nest on it, when the foxes allow.....

Black-Tailed Godwits, listed as a Vulnerable Species. Why has this sentence turned green?

More Black Tailed Godwits and a Shell Duck Sitting Down for Good Measure

A group of Cold And Wind-Blown Ecology Students.. Leaning Into The Wind is their normal stance.

More Created Lagoons
An Oystercatcher Striding Forth...
Another One, striding forth the other way...
 A Meander through the Mudflats
More mudflats looking out to the Isle of Wight
A Skylark- apols for poor pic quality, but it was some distance away, and how often do you get to see them on the ground anyway?

I think the next four shots may be Small Eggar Caterpillars found among the Hawthorn, which is their food plant. Small Eggars are a type of moth, and if these are their pillars we saw lots of them. I didn't appreciate the significance until I came home and id'd them (Caroline (RR) or Martin, if you think I'm wrong please shout). They are a nationally scarce species that were once widespread and now they only breed in selective areas. Their decline has been put down to hedge removal. I'm not a hundred percent on this one because I can't find a reference to them at Keyhaven anywhere, so I will try and find out and confirm later. 

UPDATE- Thanks once more to Dave, who has confirmed that these pillars are in fact Brown-tail moths, who are pure white and fluffy when adults and have (no surprises here) a brown tail :-)

Moving on, I spied these chaps who turned out to be Juvenile Redshanks (thanks to Dave for the id).

Bit Gorgeous.....

Spotted Redshank catching lunch
After that the birds just got better and better.... I got a shot of this male Linnet (thanks Mat for the id- it does help to have friends who know what they are talking about....)


Also this Meadow Pipit (never seen on of those before either). Thanks to Des for the id on that one....

Meadow Pipit
I also saw a Lesser White-Throat. Again thanks to Dave and Mat for the id on that one (worked out by the call- how impressive is that? It puts me to shame). No piccy sadly as he flew off too fast. 

There were several Small Moth Folk fluttering about. One obliged by landing and remaining still long enough for me to get this shot. Using my excellent Small Moth Bible as given to me by Clever Husband for Crimble, I reckon it is either a) Incurvaria pectinea or b) Incurvaria masculella. My money is on masculella, simply because of the yellowish head.... If any of you moth experts out there know different feel free to shout. LOVE the antennae.

I'm in need for an id for this please, if anyone knows? I'm pretty sure it was on an Oak...

UPDATE: thanks once more to Dave- these are oak apple galls made by a very small wasp called Biorhiza pallida

There were lots of galls....

Oak Gall pretending to be a potato
The marina looked Rather Lovely....

And the apple blossom along the path was glorious....

Not to mention all the other flowers and seed heads which were also Worthy Of Documenting....

Horsetail or Equisetum,called a 'living fossil' because it is the only living genus of its entire class still remaining

Purple-Ramping Fumitory (it was decided, after much protracted discussion, scratching of heads, staring at the ground and thumbing through various id books while studying leaf and flower size, shape and texture...)


All in all a Great Day Out and one in which I learnt many things, not least of which was NEVER EVER get in the back of a minibus again if Stuart is driving..... Roll on Miss Marple, eh Des?

I'll finish by saying that the blog is teetering on the brink of getting its 50,000th page view, which seems like a Good Time to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of you for reading/ commenting on it over the past year or so. Bless you all :-)

I'll leave you with my Two Intrepid Explorer Friends working out exactly what kind of Sow Thistle this is.....


Have a Great Night All,

CT x


  1. Thanks so much for the name of the moth, Waved Umber, I've never seen one before and looking it up it says it likes clematis, I have a couple in my bijou garden, do you think that is what attracted it?
    I just knew if anyone knew the name it would be you, thanks again.

    1. I could be wrong but I think it's the larvae that feed on things like jasmine. Some adult moths don't feed at all. I've been trying to find out for you but it isn't especially clear in my books. Have a look at these websites for more info:
      I'll let you know when I find out more x

  2. You are getting some fantastic photos, and it sure does help having some ID-ing help, no? I need to schedule a trip with one more learned in mushrooms! It's nice to see all the color you're enjoying. It will be a couple more weeks here.

    Question - Do you mind if I use a photo you shared on an earlier post? One of the "bluebells in the woods." All credit to you and your blog, of course. I've a haiku brewing and gaining steam, inspired by the photos.

    Thank you!

    1. I don't mind at all and thanks for asking first :-)

      Very nice to think the pic has inspired some poetry- will look forward to reading it in due course.

    2. Manners maketh man (and woman).... :-)

  3. Stunning photos! glad to see there are more people exploring Lymington. The community is so small and close to each other, for example

  4. You had lots of interesting photos and wildlife sightings. I wish I knew more about saltmarsh plants for ID and then for foraging, too. I'd love to do a course or at least get a good ID book. Super skylark photo - I've never managed to take a decent one and they always see me first when they're on the ground and disappear fast!

    1. It's a great place- always so much to see and relatively peaceful people-wise too. The FSC do a couple of printed sheets on seaside/ saltmarsh plants- worth a look if you haven't already seen them. I couldn't believe the skylark and in fact there were two on the ground. Beautiful birds I love listening to them.

  5. Brilliant photos, I especially like the seed heads. I'm so glad you're having a good time and for sharing the id's and photos with us.

    1. I thought you might like those :-) Good time yes, but some of the lectures are tough...more on that in a minute! x

  6. I have certainly enjoyed this virtual trip to the seaside. Many of the marshes and mudflats remind me of our local areas here at home. I am amazed you captured so much on your outing. I especially like the "Horsetail/ Equisetum" as I have never seen one before. It is really interesting, really interesting. Thanks for the romp, the photos and the explanations. I've had a great read at your post. Cheers :)

    1. I'll look forward to seeing your marshes and mudflats when the ice and snow have gone :-) I bet you get different plants to us though- be really interested to see.

  7. I love Keyhaven! So many amazing birds there. We once found some pyramidal orchids just to the left of that corner where the students are all leaning into the wind. A bit early for them probably.....

    1. Ooh, I shall look out for the orchids next time I go. Thanks for the tip :-)

  8. Great post, how great to go out with people who are interested in the same things as you, no funny looks as you are taking photos, it's ok to have your head buried in a hedge looking at caterpillars....I need to find a bug pall...

    1. You do! It's good fun going out with others equally obsessed with the natural world. If we lived nearer I'd offer :-)

  9. Some amazing shots, love the Small Eggar Caterpillars, never seen anything like that!! And your bird photos are fab, I have a tidal estuary close by, and love seeing the redshanks, godwits, curlews and egrets.
    Linda O xx

    1. Thanks Linda :-)

      How marvellous to have an estuary nearby. I'll bet you see all sorts of amazing birds during the year. Have a lovely weekend x

  10. A great post CT and lovely to see all the wildlife you spotted. I particularly like the Horsetail photo - the species really fascinates me. Glad you got the caterpillars identified - I wouldn't have had a clue!!!

    1. Horsetails are fascinating plants aren't they? We've a few coming up here. They are amazing close-up like that. :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x