Rejuvenation

Some of you will know the magnificent Willow tree on the edge of our site. Children climb it and grown ups love the shade…sometimes it has a hammock or two hanging from it’s ample branches.
Sadly, as often happens with Willows the gales took a toll on it and some large splits appeared at the main fork. We have had to pollard it, so for a while it will look, frankly, a bit butchered. All being well the cracks will heal and regrowth will be stronger and very quick. We made the pollard cuts high up to make sure the tender new growth is out of reach of the dozens of naughty deer that visit every night.

Raptor!

I have just settled in our first caravan of the new season – keen birdwatchers. While we were standing having a chat after getting the van into position we were thrilled to see a raptor glide in the gate and along the hedgerow about 6 feet above the ground…we looked at each other and smiled….it was a Merlin. What a great start to their stay here in the New Forest.

Oh! Deer

Visitors to our CL often ask if they will see deer during their stay – the simple answer is YES. There are dozens of Deer living within easy walking distance of the CL, in fact they often visit the field that the CL is in.  To see the Deer just take a walk – keep your eyes open and look well ahead.

Fallow deer are the most numerous by far, between the CL and Fritham there are several hundred in groups of 10 -20. Roe deer are around but mostly seen singly or Does with Fawns. There are a few Red deer around and one or two Sika, you are very unlikely to see Muntjac.

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Killers in the mire

If you bring children to the New Forest chances are they will be fascinated if you show them the carnivorous plants that grow in the valley mires (bogs).

Drosera rotundifolia
Drosera rotundifolia

Most photos of  Sundew show them up close and you might be encouraged to expect them to be chunky things as big as a cabbage and dangerous to small dogs and children…they aren’t, they are quite small just a few inches across the whole plant. Once you get your eye in you’ll see Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) in most of the wet boggy places.

Look closely and you easily see the sticky droplets on the leaf hairs that adhere to insects careless enough to land on one of the ‘leaves’. Look even closer at a mature leaf and you see the remnants of a meal with all the nutrients sucked out. The early Spring means the Sundews are already well developed (they die down during Winter). If the mires stay wet you can expect Sundew to thrive and get relatively large, they should flower well too. Around Furzehill you’ll mostly see the round leaved sundew as in the photo but in other parts of the New Forest there is the long leaved sundew and an intermediate form.

What IS that?

Every year a round this time I get asked the same question, ‘what are those things that stick up appearing in all the hedgerows?’Cuckoo Pint I know exactly what they mean, it’s a plant called ‘Cuckoo Pint’ and it has dozens of other names depending where you are in the country. The latin name is Arum maculatum.

The leaves appear in the depths of the Winter, they look tender and vulnerable but seem to take the harshest weather in their stride. Then, around the end of April up pops the spadix with it’s hood neatly showcasing it. The actual flowers are tiny and deep inside the closed up area below the spadix. Pollination is by insects, mostly flies attracted by the smell and warmth generated by the spadix.

In the Autumn you’ll see the fruits, clusters of bright red berries – don’t touch as they can cause allergic reactions.

Strolling around Gorley Common

Between the Avon valley and the Western edge of the New Forest is Gorley Hill. Like so many hills in the area it is a massive lump of clay with a gravel capping. That Gravel capping was the hill’s undoing back in the 1950’s when the top 10 metres or so was dug away for building materials. That period of destruction left the hill both lower and missing the remains of an ancient hill fort at it’s Southern end. Half a century later the hill’s vegetation has somewhat recovered, although misguided efforts of land managers have suppressed what could have been a fine clothing of woodland in favour of gorse and rabbits.

Don’t be put off because the walk around the rim of Gorley Hill is both easy and pleasant

Blashford Lakes is a series of former gravel pits surrounded by grassland and willow, birch and alder woodland. The Dockens Water stream flows through the reserve and is bounded by ancient woodland of Oak and Beech.

How to get there

Blashford Lakes is 2 miles north of Ringwood on the A338, turn right (east) onto Ellingham Drove, the reserve entrance is after 500 yards with main car park to the left and Education Centre to the right. Main car park is at SU151083, Education Centre is at SU151079, postcode BH24 3PJ. View a map.

Public transport:

Bus, the X3 Bournemouth-Salisbury service stops at Ellingham Cross 500yds west of the main reserve entrance.

Getting around

The main paths are all rolled gravel with shallow gradients. At access points the kissing gates have RADAR keys for wider opening to allow passage of wheelchairs and buggies. A key can be borrowed from the Education Centre by arrangement. There are disability buggies available to borrow – to book, call 01425 472 760.

Opening times:

Open from 09:00 to 16:30 daily apart from Christmas day. During these hours the car park, all bird hides and Centre building with toilets are open. Outside these hours the paths are accessible but there is no vehicle access.

Information:

There are blackboards with recent sightings in the car park, at the Education Centre and in several of the bird hides. Also check latest reserve news. Leaflets, including a site map are available at the main car park, in the hides and at the Education Centre. Download a copy of the new reserve leaflet.

Contact information

Call 01425 472760 or 07917 616695

via Blashford Lakes · Our Reserves · HWT.